NFL DRAFT

Los Angeles Times - - NBA PLAYOFFS -

The NFL draft will be held Thurs­day, Fri­day and Satur­day in Chicago. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer ex­am­ines team needs by di­vi­sion. To­day, the North di­vi­sions:

AFC North

With Tor­rey Smith now in San Fran­cisco, the

Bal­ti­more Ravens are look­ing for a speedy re­ceiver who can stretch the field. They have the 26th pick and should be able to find a burner there, per­haps Cen­tral Florida’s Bre­shad Per­ri­man, who ran a 4.22 in the 40-yard dash for scouts. The Ravens are look­ing for help at cor­ner­back, too, so they might go that di­rec­tion in the open­ing round. The team could pur­sue a run­ning back on Day 2.

Pitts­burgh hasn’t used a first-round pick on a cor­ner­back since tak­ing Chad Scott in 1997, but the Steel­ers could be headed that di­rec­tion with the 22nd se­lec­tion in this draft. With the re­tire­ment of Troy Po­la­malu, the team also will be on the hunt for a po­ten­tial next-gen­er­a­tion star at safety. The Steel­ers need a pass rush­ing line­backer, as nearly 37-year-old James Har­ri­son might be the best they’ve got. The left tackle for

Cincin­nati, An­drew Whit­worth, will turn 34 this sea­son, so the Ben­gals might put a suc­ces­sion plan in place with the 21st pick in this draft. But the Ben­gals need to for­tify their de­fense, as well, and they are in good po­si­tion to go in sev­eral di­rec­tions on that side of the ball. Geno Atkins hasn’t looked like a su­per­star of late, so the Ben­gals need to look at this crop of de­fen­sive tack­les.

With two firstround picks, the Cleve­land

Browns can con­tinue to re­shape their ros­ter. Hard to be­lieve, but the Browns could once again be on the look­out for a quar­ter­back, although they might not be will­ing to give up what it takes to get Ore­gon’s Mar­cus Mar­i­ota. Wash­ing­ton de­fen­sive tackle Danny Shel­ton will be tempt­ing if he’s there at No. 12, and this fran­chise needs re­ceivers, too, with Josh Gor­don suspended again.

NFC North

Every­body needs at least some fine-tun­ing, and that in­cludes the

Green Bay Pack­ers, who have the 30th pick. With A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones gone, the Pack­ers need help at in­side line­backer and should be able to get a good one. The Pack­ers are eye­ing this class of tight ends, too, and might take one on Day 2. Cor­ner­back is also an area of need, although Green Bay will miss the first wave of those in its cur­rent spot. There’s a de­fen­sive makeover hap­pen­ing in

Detroit, with the Li­ons los­ing de­fen­sive tack­les Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fair­ley in free agency and adding the gray­ing but tal­ented Haloti Ngata. The Li­ons will be look­ing for more help along the de­fen­sive front. The Li­ons also have needs along the of­fen­sive line, so they might go that di­rec­tion with the 23rd pick.

The Min­nesota

Vik­ings took a step for­ward with first-year Coach Mike Zim­mer last sea­son, but there’s work to be done. The team has a glar­ing need at left guard — ide­ally one who might even­tu­ally be able to move to tackle. The Vik­ings need more pass rush­ers, too, in a passhappy di­vi­sion that in­cludes quar­ter­backs Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cut­ler. The draft has moved to Chicago, and the Bears are look­ing to make a splash. With Bran­don Mar­shall gone, new Gen­eral Manager Ryan Pace might look to grab a re­ceiver at No. 7 and could be in po­si­tion for ei­ther West Vir­ginia’s Kevin White or Alabama’s Amari Cooper. The Bears’ de­fense was 30th in yards al­lowed in 2014, so the fran­chise surely will be tempted to ad­dress that with its first-round pick.

NEXT: SOUTH DI­VI­SIONS

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