Around the AFC North: Bengals Sitting Pretty to Draft Playmaker at No. 5

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Left: Floriday TE Kyle Pitts; Right: LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals: Dynamic Target Should Be Available With No. 5 Pick

The draft dominoes are falling in favor of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Another team looking to land a quarterback made a bold move last week, when the San Francisco 49ers traded up to the No. 3 pick in the draft in a deal with the Miami Dolphins.

Pro Football Focus now predicts the first four picks in the draft will be quarterbacks – Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1, followed by Zach Wilson to the New York Jets, Justin Fields to the 49ers and Trey Lance to the New England Patriots.

That would leave the Bengals in great position to add a top playmaker at No. 5 to help quarterback Joe Burrow, with the choice between wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase of LSU or tight end Kyle Pitts of Florida. Burrow and Chase were a lethal combination as teammates at LSU, winning a national championship together in 2019 when Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, some scouts believe Pitts is among the best tight end prospects in years. At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, Pitts ran an unofficial 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day on March 22, and some believe he'll be one of the NFL's elite tight ends as a rookie.

If the Bengals opt for a less sexy pick at No. 5, they could still take offensive lineman Penei Sewell of Oregon. However, they have strengthened their offensive line already this offseason by signing tackle Riley Reiff in free agency. After the 49ers' trade last week, it looks more likely that either Chase or Pitts will be headed to Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns: Long-time Pursuit of Clowney Apparently Not Over

The Browns are focused on upgrading their defense this offseason, so it was not surprising when it was reported that they visited with free agent edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney last week.

Chris Roling of Bleacher Report believes Clowney would be a perfect fit for the Browns, but the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dolphins are among teams also mentioned as possibilities. The Browns have one of the league's premier pass rushers in defensive end Myles Garrett, but they are expected to lose Oliver Vernon, a free agent who had nine sacks last season before tearing his Achilles in Week 17.

Cleveland reportedly tried to sign Clowney last year, and at age 28 he could still add juice to the pass rush if he is fully recovered from a knee injury that slowed him in 2020. Clowney and the Browns may not be in a rush to reach an agreement, but the Browns are expected to keep him on their radar, especially if they don't add a pass rusher in the draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Alualu Expected to Return After Flirting With Jaguars

First it looked like the Steelers were going to lose defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. Now he's expected to return, which is good news for a defense that has already been hit hard during free agency.

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Alualu will re-sign with the Steelers after initially agreeing to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 33-year-old Alualu has been a pillar in Pittsburgh's run defense, playing 44 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season and contributing 38 tackles and two sacks.

Pittsburgh has already lost four starters on defense this offseason – linebackers Bud Dupree (Tennessee Titans) and Vince Williams (free agent), and cornerbacks Mike Hilton (Bengals) and Steve Nelson (free agent).

Word that Alualu would be staying delighted his Pittsburgh teammates, including defensive end Cam Heyward.

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