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Old 06-12-2009, 01:59 PM   #1
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Default Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

Building a championship NFL franchise is not easy. It takes tons of scouting, hard work and a little luck.

This week, ESPN.com takes a look at players in each division with the goal of putting together a championship-caliber team over the next three seasons. The time frame is very important, because the projection may exclude several veterans currently at the top of their game who may be retired or struggling down the road.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 building blocks for the AFC North:

1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: When building a team, it's important to have a winner at quarterback. The 27-year-old Roethlisberger already has two Super Bowl rings at the NFL's most important position. He will keep my AFC North team in the annual title hunt well into the next decade.

2. Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers: Currently approaching his prime, Polamalu is the most dynamic player on the league's most dominant defense. He also has two Super Bowl rings and is on his way to a Hall of Fame career. I want my franchise along for the ride.

3. Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns: Every team needs a stud left tackle to protect the quarterback's blindside. Thomas, 24, is already in elite company at his position in only his third season. More important, Roethlisberger won't have to scramble every game and take big hits on a weekly basis.

4. Terrell Suggs, DE/OLB, Baltimore Ravens: How good is Suggs? The Ravens used the franchise tag on him two years in a row. I don't blame them. Versatile and elite edge-rushers in their prime are hard to find.

5. Ed Reed, S, Ravens: Reed, 30, would be higher on the list if this was a one-year scenario. But recent ailments make it questionable whether he wants to play football for another three years and beyond. Reed even discussed flirtations with baseball, because it's much easier on the body. But pairing Reed with Polamalu, even if it's just for a few years, would give my team arguably the best safety tandem in NFL history.

6. Haloti Ngata, DT/DE, Ravens: Ngata's rare combination of size, strength and athleticism will help my franchise dominate the trenches for many, many years. He should develop into a Pro Bowl player very soon.

7. James Harrison, OLB, Steelers: Harrison, 31, should provide at least two dominant seasons over the next three years. After that, age becomes an issue.

8. Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns: I'm not big on building franchises around receivers. But Edwards is one of the best when he's focused. Being around other great players like Roethlisberger, Reed and Polamalu will keep him in line and productive.

9. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Every elite team has a good backup quarterback. It was a tough choice between Flacco and Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals. But because this quarterback will sit behind Roethlisberger for the next three seasons, it's safer to go with the younger prospect in Flacco, who is just scratching the surface and has tremendous upside.

10. Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Steelers: This wouldn't be a true AFC North team if I didn't run a 3-4 defense. Therefore, I need as many dynamic linebackers as possible. Because Suggs and Harrison are already coming off the edges, LaMarr Woodley wouldn't help as a third outside linebacker. So I'm going with the more versatile Timmons, who can start at inside linebacker and still play on the outside if someone gets injured. With Reed, Polamalu, Harrison, Suggs, Ngata and Timmons, this defense is the best of any division for both the long- and short-term.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

Yep, that's a helluva start there.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

Surprising I'd see this from ESPN. Thought they might throw in a few more Rats. Good thing to see some ESPN folks are getting smarter.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

i laugh at the fact.. that there are no bengal players on the list..
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

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i laugh at the fact.. that there are no bengal players on the list..
Wow! You're right! Flacco took Carson Palmer's spot....AWESOME!
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

Yeah but when Flacco gets his brains scrambled this season and the Bengals out shine their expectations, they'll flip again in this ranking and we'll get to hear in 2010 how the Bengals are going to compete to take our AFC North Title away...

They'll flip, watch. Ravens with a 2nd place schedule this year that includes the Colts and Patriots, they are in for a long season.

of coarse maybe I'm just a hater...but heck, being the Six Time Champs I can talk all the freaking smack I want about those loud mouth fools out of Baltimore. Enjoy the view from behind the bengals you slackers.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

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of coarse maybe I'm just a hater...
You are....
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but heck, being the Six Time Champs I can talk all the freaking smack I want about those loud mouth fools out of Baltimore.
...and you definitely can.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

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Wow! You're right! Flacco took Carson Palmer's spot....AWESOME!
I'd still take Palmer over him.

Flacco is either the Poor mans Roethlisberger (like dirt poor) or a Derek Anderson clone.

heck a lot of the Browns fans last year were joking that he was a DA-Clone judging by the scouting report.

The Ravens really didn't impress me all that much in our two losses to them. We pretty much beat ourselves thanks to our coach sticking with DA who threw costly interceptions
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

edwards ? flacco ? ......but yet they leave lammar woodley off the list ? i mean he only had, what , 11 sacks in his second season ? flaco played ok for a rookie, and showed some promise, but i think its a little premature to say he's going to be an elite player.. don't even get me started on edwards... anyone know of any young superbowl MVP's that might have future potential ?
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC North

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edwards ? flacco ? ......but yet they leave lammar woodley off the list ? i mean he only had, what , 11 sacks in his second season ? flaco played ok for a rookie, and showed some promise, but i think its a little premature to say he's going to be an elite player.. don't even get me started on edwards... anyone know of any young superbowl MVP's that might have future potential ?
well first.. he taking bout if he would start a team from players from all 4 teams.. and he alrdy has harrison and suggs as his olb.. so woodly wouldn't be a starter..

and 2nd.. holmes had a coming out party in the playoffs.. and usually edwards does have good season except for 08...

if holmes can keep it up.. then i'll take holmes over edwards
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