My NFC South colleague Pat Yasinskas compiled the list of 26 players who have been invited to attend the NFL draft in New York. With the AFC North having six first-round picks, some of those players could be walking up to the podium wearing a hat of a team in this division.
Here are the invitees who have a good chance, in my opinion, of ending up in the AFC North:
Morris Claiborne, cornerback, LSU: If the Browns trade down two or three spots from No. 4, Claiborne would be the best player available.
Cordy Glenn, guard-tackle, Georgia: He could go to any team in this division in the bottom half of the first round. The Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers could all use Glenn as a guard or tackle.
Mark Barron, safety, Alabama: The Bengals and Ravens could end up taking the top safety in the draft. Cincinnati cut Chris Crocker and Baltimore has to look to the future (Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard are both free agents next year).
Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina: Some have linked Gilmore to the Bengals at No. 21. The Bengals have taken two cornerbacks in the first round in the Marvin Lewis era.
Stephen Hill, receiver, Georgia Tech: The Browns, Ravens and Bengals all could use a downfield threat like Hill. I have Hill going to the Browns at No. 22 in our first Blog Network mock draft of the year.
Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, Alabama: Nearly every mock draft has the two-time Alabama captain going to the Steelers. If Pittsburgh passes on him, the Ravens would take a hard look at him.
Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, Alabama: Like Gilmore, Kirkpatrick is another candidate to go to the Bengals at No. 21. The Steelers could also take a cornerback in the first round.
Shea McClellin, linebacker, Boise State: He could be a sleeper pick for the Ravens at No. 29. Baltimore is always looking for more pass-rushers.
Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama: He is the leading candidate to be taken fourth overall by the Browns. But he won't be available if Cleveland decides to trade down.
Courtney Upshaw, linebacker, Alabama: This is another prospect who could get selected by any team in the division in the bottom half of the first round. Upshaw is a physical tackler and an emotional leader, which makes him an AFC North-type of player.
Kendall Wright, receiver, Baylor: He lacks size but he can run past defenders. That could interest the Bengals and the Browns.