2018 NFL Draft Analysis – AFC North

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Welcome to part six of our eight part series reviewing how each team did in the 2018 NFL Draft.  If you missed any of our earlier installments, be sure to check them out.  I am not going to go too in depth about the first rounders as I already dedicated an entire article to that topic.

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1 – 25 (25) – TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
Round 1 – 32 (32) – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Round 3 – 19 (83) – OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Round 3 – 22 (86) – TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Round 4 – 18 (118) – CB Anthony Averett, Alabama
Round 4 – 22 (122) – LB Kenny Young, UCLA
Round 4 – 32 (132) – WR Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State
Round 5 – 25 (162) – WR Jordan Lasley, UCLA
Round 6 – 16 (190) – S DeShon Elliot, Texas
Round 6 – 38 (212) – OT Greg Senat, Wagner
Round 6 – 41 (215) – C Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
Round 7 – 20 (238) – DE Zach Sieler, Ferris State

Ozzie Newsome put the cart before the horse in terms of getting a weapon for his new quarterback as he draft Hurst before actually getting his quarterback. But Baltimore walked away from Thursday night with an upgrade at a position of need, their long-term quarterback, and will probably end up breaking even in terms of draft capital after all their trades.

On the other end of the Bills terrible trade up for a linebacker is that Ozzie Newsome was the recipient of the 65th pick.  Through two trades, one with Oakland and one with Kansas City, Baltimore turned the 65th pick into the 86th, 122nd, 152nd, and 212th picks of the draft.  In total, the Ravens profited 5.3 points of draft capital according to the Chase Stuart draft chart.  The 99th pick is worth 5.3 points, so Ozzie Newsome basically created the 99th pick out of thin air.

Armed with two 3rd round picks, Baltimore tapped into the Oklahoma program twice.  First they selected ginormous offensive tackle Orlando Brown.  Brown was projected to be a first rounder before having a disastrous combine.  His testing numbers were so bad that there is no precedent of someone posting such numbers and succeeding in the NFL.  He tested better at his pro-day, but only in relativity.

The result of his poor testing is that he fell to the middle of round three, where the Ravens were happy to take the chance that he will be as good as he looks on tape.  It’s a smartly calculated lotto ticket.  The biggest concern before Brown ever tested athletically was could he stick on the left side in the NFL?  Well the Ravens have Ronnie Stanley, so Brown will be utilized on the right side of the line.

Three picks later Ozzie Newsome brought in another tight end for Flacco/Lamar.  Mark Andrews is a “tight end” by designation, but really functions as a slot receiver.  The versatility will allow offensive coordinator Mornhinweg to create mismatches against opposing defenses.  There seemed to be a big four of tight ends in this draft – Hurst, Goedert, Gesicki, Andrews – and Andrews was the last of the bunch and a good value at the end of the 3rd.

It must have killed Ozzie Newsome to pass on Alabama product Calvin Ridley in the first round, so he found his way to the well in the 4th.  Anthony Averett fits the draft range and a team can never have too many corners.

Kenny Young is definitely a reach where the Ravens took him.  He is a reliable tackler but I would say at least five inside linebackers to go after him were superior prospects.

With their next two picks, the Ravens double dipped at wide receiver.  Jaleel Scott is an intriguing prospect as he is massive and has shown to be a quality deep threat.  On the flip side, he has difficulties creating separation and isn’t a threat after the catch.  At the end of round 4, however, he is worth a look.

Jordan Lasley is someone who plays like a 2nd rounder but dropped due to off-field concerns.  The Ravens are the type of team that has a veteran locker room and coaching staff that can probably keep Lasley out of trouble.  If that happens Baltimore could end up with a major steal here.  Lasley does have an issue with drops, however

I thought DeShon Elliot could have gone much higher so to get him in the 6th is good value.  Safety isn’t a huge need but when you’re gunning for the Steelers and Patriots you can’t have too many guys that can cover.

Ozzie Newsome threw two darts at the offensive line at the end of round 6.  Both Senat and Bozeman fit the range and will hopefully provide some quality depth along the offensive front.

Sieler didn’t have a draftable grade but was perhaps a priority free agent.  Locking up a defensive end you like in the 7th isn’t a bad idea.


Ozzie Newsome delivered a masterpiece in his last draft.  He manipulated the board, extracting value by trading down, kept taking good players, and left the organization with its future quarterback on the roster.  I cannot stress enough how good of a landing spot Baltimore is for Lamar Jackson.

If the Bills and Jets weren’t taking notes on what the Cardinals did after drafting a quarterback, I really hope they were taking notes on what the Ravens did.  The Ravens surrounded their quarterback with talent, and did it more so than Arizona.

In total Baltimore had 12 selections.  One of them was Lamar Jackson.  Of the other 11 choices, seven of them were offensive players.  Three lineman, two tight ends, and two receivers.  That is how you support your young quarterback.

I am surprised Newsome passed on Calvin Ridley for Hayden Hurst, one because he is a receiver and two because he went to Alabama.  Tight end was a bigger need, but Ridley was the superior prospect.  I wish I could ask Newsome what went into that decision, as he is known for a draft philosophy of taking the best player available.

Overall Grade: A

Cincinnati Bengals 

Round 1 – 21 (21) – OL Billy Price, Ohio State
Round 2 – 22 (54) – S Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
Round 3 – 13 (77) – DE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
Round 3 – 14 (78) – LB Malik Jefferson, Texas
Round 4 – 12 (112) – RB Mark Walton, Miami
Round 5 – 14 (151) – Davontae Harris, Illinois State
Round 5 – 21 (158) – DL Andrew Brown, Virginia
Round 5 – 33 (170) – CB Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
Round 7 – 31 (249) – QB Logan Woodside, Toldeo
Round 7 – 34 (252) – G Rod Taylor, Ole Miss
Round 7 – 35 (253) – WR Auden Tate, Florida State

The Bengals had maybe the worst offensive line play in the league in 2017, so taking Billy Price makes perfect sense as he could play any position along the interior.  That will allow the Bengals to find their best five man group and put it on the field.

In the second round the Bengals traded down.  They shipped #44 and #100 to Kansas City for #54 and #78.  Cincinnati only profited 0.6 points of draft capital in the trade, but I would definitely drop 10 spots in the second round to move up 22 spots in the third.

When the Bengals did pick at #54, they took safety Jessie Bates.  The Bates hype machine really ramped up leading into the draft and he could have gone higher in the second round.  Bates may be the best safety in the draft in terms of guarding a receiver one on one.  The Bengals never properly replaced Reggie Nelson after he left.

I think Sam Hubbard is a really good value in the middle of the third round.  This draft was light on pass rushers and Hubbard is very technically proficient.  Also, for someone that is said to not be enough of an athlete to succeed, his 3-cone time gives reason for a lot of optimism.

I love the Jefferson pick.  Jefferson was a 5 star recruit out of high school and never lived up to the hype while at Texas, but he has all the athletic tools you could want.  He did have easily his best season in 2017 and is already good in run defense.  If Cincinnati can unlock his potential they have a serious steal here.

Mark Walton was going to be a day two pick if he didn’t have his season cut short by injury.  He may be small, but he is a good runner between the tackles and a receiving threat as well.

There are several corners I would have taken over Harris, and while I think the pick is a reach Lance Zierlein seems to have a solid opinion of Harris.

I would say Andrew Brown went in the proper range.  I’m not sure where the Bengals plan to play him along the defensive front, but the versatility is nice.

Darius Phillips is a very interesting dice roll.  Phillips was a receiver until his sophomore year of college, and due to his athleticism and ball skills he had a pretty smooth transition.  He certainly isn’t without his weaknesses though, but I can see how a coach could become infatuated with trying to coach him up.

There were so many Logan Woodside fans pre-draft that they probably formed a cult.  I’m not saying anyone is wrong or that Woodside is terrible, I’m just saying I can’t remember so many people pointing to the same round 6/7 quarterback in another draft.

Rod Taylor didn’t have a draftable grade but I can understand wanting to lock someone up that late in the 7th.

I love the Auden Tate selection here.  He has size and talent and should have gone at least 50 picks higher.


I thought the Bengals would use more premium selections on their offensive line, but in theory their first round pick was both Cordy Glenn and Billy Price.  So, yea, that’s pretty good.

The Bengals had one of the best groups of first five selections in the entire league.  They loaded up on defensive talent, mostly in the trenches and in the secondary.  They threw three darts at the offense in the 7th round, including a really good value on Auden Tate.

Overall Grade: A-

Cleveland Browns

Round 1 – 1 (1) – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Round 1 – 4 (4) – CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
Round 2 – 1 (33) – OL Austin Corbett, Nevada
Round 2 – 3 (35) – RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
Round 3 – 3 (67) – DE Chad Thomas, Miami
Round 4 – 5 (105) – WR Antonio Callaway, Florida
Round 5 – 13 (150) – LB Genard Avery, Memphis
Round 6 – 1 (175) – WR Damion Ratley, Texas A&M
Round 6 – 14 (188) – DB Simeon Thomas, Louisiana Lafayette

I just want to state that taking Denzel Ward is not an option I would have considered at #4.  I gave the pick a B- in my first round grades, but I think Cleveland should have taken the Buffalo deal.

They did, however, get their future quarterback and the best cover corner in the draft.  Not bad.

I was surprised when Cleveland opened day two with Austin Corbett.  They plan to play him at tackle, at least that is my understanding, which is the position he played in college.  The league projected him to move inside to guard, however.  I’m not saying that he should, I guess I’m just saying I would have taken Connor Williams.  Regardless, Joe Thomas retired so obviously Cleveland needed to try to replace him.

I have no problem with the Browns taking Nick Chubb this high in the second round, he is a talented running back and is now under cost control for four seasons.  This just further highlights how illogical it was to make Carlos Hyde the 9th highest paid running back by average annual value.  I’m sure the Browns will end up cutting Hyde after 2018, but it was a really short sighted decision.

Thanks to the Carson Wentz trade, Cleveland had the 64th pick, but traded down to #67 in a swap with the Colts.  For Cleveland’s trouble the Colts gave them the 178th pick.  Cleveland profited 1.3 points of draft capital in the trade.

At #67 Cleveland selected Chad Thomas who I think really flew under the radar during the draft process.  For a draft light on pass rushing talent you would have thought there would have been a couple guys people would hype up in the week or two leading up to the draft that were slated to go on day two.  None of that ever transpired, but Chad Thomas should have been one of those guys.  Miami moved Thomas all around last year and he has he ability to play standing up.

Cleveland took a real risk by drafting Antonio Callaway.  There are plenty of people that think based purely on talent Callaway is the best receiver in this draft.  He has very significant off field concerns, however.  I have to wonder how far Callaway would have dropped have Cleveland not taken him at the top of round four.  Cleveland also traded up to make this happen.  If Callaway stays out of trouble this could be a major steal.  If Josh Gordon has turned his life around then he is basically a perfect example for Callaway to follow.  If Josh Gordon is still doing Josh Gordon things then this could be absolutely disastrous having these two in the same locker room.

Avery is a very interesting player as he is athletic, has shown an ability to rush the passer, and is solid against the run.  He really struggles in coverage though.  I’m sure the Browns view him as a part-time player though, so they can just put him in situations that work to his strengths.

Ratley did not have a draftable grade and I’m not sure if he should have been a priority undrafted free agent.

Simeon Thomas is an absolute freak of nature athlete.  He is 6’3.5″, 190lbs, has 35 inch arms, and at his pro day he ran a 4.47 40, had a 39.5″ vertical, and 11’3″ broad jump.


All of the Browns first five selections are good players, they made a nice trade down, and oh yea, I believe they have finally fixed their quarterback issue.  I do want to reiterate that I hate the Tyrod Taylor trade.  If you wanted to keep Mayfield on the sidelines for a year, you could have just signed some veteran to play in 2018.  You didn’t need to ship out the 65th pick of the draft to rent Taylor for one season.

Cleveland took a huge risk in taking Callaway but the move has enormous upside.  Avery and Thomas are interesting late round players, but I don’t get the Ratley pick.

The Browns traded for Jarvis Landry but also gave him a monster contract.  I guess those even out?

After drafting a quarterback, the Browns brought in a left tackle, running back, and two receivers.  Take notes, Buffalo.

Overall Grade: B+

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1 – 28 (28) – S Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Round 2 – 28 (60) – WR James Washington, Oklahoma State
Round 3 – 12 (76) – QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Round 3 – 28 (92) – OT Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan
Round 5 – 11 (148) – S Marcus Allen, Penn State
Round 5 – 28 (165) – RB Jaylen Samuels, N.C. State
Round 7 – 28 (246) – DT Joshua Frazier, Alabama

I said the Steelers would draft a safety in the first round because the Patriots live rent free in Pittsburgh’s head and the Steelers’ entire world revolves around New England.  So naturally their first pick will be bringing in someone to cover Gronk.  I got the particular safety wrong, but they did take a safety.  This indisputably proves that I was 100% right and that the only thing the Steelers care about is the Patriots.  Yep, case closed.

The Steelers traded away Martavis Bryant for Oakland’s 3rd round pick, so they replaced him with in the second round with James Washington.  Washington’s timed speed isn’t eye popping, but you can’t watch an Oklahoma State game without seeing Washington torch the entire secondary at least once.  Washington could have gone higher so this is good value.

Speaking of that 3rd round pick from Oakland, the Steelers made a small trade up from #79 (acquired in the Bryant deal) to #76 by sending #220 to Seattle to move up three spots.  The Steelers then drafted perhaps Roethlisberger’s eventual replacement, Mason Rudolph.

Roethlisberger may not be a fan of the pick, but I am.  I think Rudolph was the 5th best quarterback in this draft, so to get him in the middle of the 3rd round is good value.  It isn’t clear how well Rudolph will transition to a pro style offense, but he was basically a robot in college.  Landing in a spot like Pittsburgh where he can be seasoned for a few years was the best thing that could have happened to him.

With their own 3rd round pick Pittsburgh took massive offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor.  He fits the draft range and investing in the offensive line is always a good idea.

Many people expected Allen to go on day two so he is good value in the 5th.  Allen is really an in-the-box safety so he won’t be able to help cover Gronk, but considering the big, bad Jaguars offense embarrassed his defense, getting the best defensive talent at any position is a solid choice.

I really like Jaylen Samuels and believe the right coaching staff will be able to find a way to utilize him as a mismatch weapon.

I don’t think Frazier had a draftable grade or would have even been a priority free agent, but it’s the end of the 7th.


The Steelers didn’t reach until the end of the 7th, so whatever.  Their other picks were either solid or good value and they added talented players.  They also possibly drafted Roethlisberger’s successor, so this was a successful draft.

Overall Grade: B

filed under: NFL

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