Last week at this time, teams were making their final preparations for the first round of the draft. Now, rookie minicamps are around the corner for the newest players in the AFC North. The mandatory minicamps for veterans is still a month away. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First things first, which means the wake-up call ...
RAVENS: Jameel McClain is optimistic that he'll return from a spinal cord contusion he suffered last December, but the starting inside linebacker has yet to be medically cleared to resume playing. "I'm running around full speed, working out, lifting weights with no problems, nothing on my end," McClain told The Baltimore Sun. "I can do everything. Everything is positive on my end." McClain said the injury didn't require surgery. The severity and location of the injury had initially created doubt about his future.
BENGALS: Clark Judge of CBS Sports thinks the Bengals are changing their draft-day image. They are taking the best players available instead of reaching for need and players who come with baggage. Case in point: Selecting Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round. "So maybe it says something about the value of stability, with coach Marvin Lewis in place since 2003," Judge wrote. "Or maybe it says something about the influence of an improved scouting department and the impact that it has on Brown and the coaching staff. All I know is Mike Brown and the Cincinnati Bengals just got things right. Again."
STEELERS: Linebackers coach Keith Butler wanted the Steelers to draft an inside linebacker in the second round after taking outside linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first. "As I told them, last time we picked first and second with linebackers (2007 with Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley), we won the Super Bowl two years later," Butler told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We didn't go to it, we won it. I tried to make that argument, it didn't work. It worked for one round, but it didn't work for the second round." The only inside linebacker taken in the second round after the Steelers drafted running back Le'Veon Bell was Florida's Jon Bostic. The Steelers eventually selected Florida State inside linebacker Vince Williams in the sixth round.
BROWNS: The house-cleaning of the old regime's scouting department continued Wednesday, when director of college scouting John Spytek was fired along with two pro scouts, according to The Plain Dealer. Earlier in the week, senior national scout Pat Roberts left after the Browns did not renew his contract. Perhaps one reason why the Browns traded for two future picks is because CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi want to use their draft choices when they have their staff in place. Also, updating previous news items, The Plain Dealer is reporting free-agent offensive tackle Winston Justice is not visiting the Browns and the team isn't interested in Cardinals backup quarterback Brian Hoyer