Draft Review: AFC North

Draft weekend is over. It’s sad times in the lair. I guess it’s back to binging super hero movies until fantasy season picks up for us keyboard warriors. But before we go open Disney+, here’s some grades. Remember, I did an analysis of each pick of the first round already, and be sure to check out the earlier editions of the review series.

Baltimore Ravens – B+

The Ravens have a case for the best Day 1. Getting Rashod Bateman and Odafe Oweh where they did was tremendous value.

Baltimore didn’t draft again until late in the third but got a mid round guard I like in Ben Cleveland. They followed that up a few picks later with a puzzling selection. Throwing resources at the corner position is basically always a good idea, but Brandon Stephens is a serious project as he started his career as a running back at UCLA before transferring to SMU. The Ravens clearly see a lot of potential they believe they can maximize but who is starting at right tackle for this team? Not that you expect the 104th pick of the draft to come in and immediate contribute but after shipping off Orlando Brown seriously who is the Week 1 starter at right tackle? And god forbid Ronnie Stanley gets injured again Brown isn’t around anymore to flip over to the left.

I really like Baltimore’s next three picks. Adding Tylan Wallace’s speed to their receiver room is wise and this pick is essentially taking out an insurance policy on the Bateman selection. I’m a fan of doubling up at positions in the draft to maximize the odds of hitting on one of them. Shaun Wade had a disastrous 2020 after moving to outside corner for the Buckeyes. However, in 2019 when he was a slot corner he would have been an early Day 2 pick had he declared for the 2020 draft. The dude who was that good in the slot is still in there somewhere and seeing if you can find him with a 5th round pick is tremendous value. The Ravens’ corner depth is out of this world. Grabbing Daelin Hayes as a flyer pass rusher is another savvy late round move.

Again, I don’t get who is starting at right tackle for this team. Look, after Bateman and Oweh fell to them in the first I don’t blame Baltimore for not addressing right tackle at 27 or 31. I’m by no means asking them to needs based draft. But can you throw *a* resource at the position? Like I mentioned in the Buffalo writeup teams can begin signing players next week without it factoring into their compensatory pick formula. There’s some interesting names still out there in free agency so maybe that’s the plan.

Cincinnati Bengals – A-

I really like the Bengals draft and think it’s getting lost in the shuffle of the best hauls. I think taking Ja’Marr Chase over Sewell was the correct decision, though there was no wrong decision. Cincinnati then fleeced the Patriots when they traded down from 38 for 46, 122, and 139. We all knew the Bengals were going to take an offensive tackle in the second when they opted for Chase in the first. I don’t particularly like Jackson Carman and think there were better tackles to be had. I also am concerned he needs to move inside to guard. However, there exists a world where he’s a good guard or even a good tackle, and the process of moving down eight slots in the second to add two fourth rounders is good business.

Cincinnati then spent their next two picks, one in the third and one in the fourth, on two pass rushers. Joseph Ossai could have gone in the second without anyone guessing it and the Bengals nabbed him atop round three. Coming back with Cameron Sample in the fourth is good process as doubling up on pass rushers is always sound strategy.

Cincinnati had two more picks in the fourth and walked away with Tyler Shelvin and D’Ante Smith. Shelvin is one of the easiest projections in this draft. As long has he keeps his weight in check he should be a quality run defender and this is when you start taking run stuffing nose tackles. After choosing Chase over Sewell it’s only prudent to double up at offensive tackle. D’Ante Smith needs work but he’s going to have an opportunity to develop in the background for at least a year

Trey Hill is a good dart throw at center in the 6th round and I love Chris Evans as a late round running back sleeper.

Cleveland Browns – A –

Cleveland started off with having a perfect scheme fit corner fall into their laps in the first round with Greg Newsome. So that’s good. I basically hate trading up for non-quarterbacks, and I just killed the Patriots for doing something similar to this, but landing Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round is just really good value. The Browns sent off #59 and #89 for #52 and #113 in order to make it happen. Falling back 24 spots later to jump up 7 spots in the second round is bad practice, but maybe this situation is just the exception to the rule since they landed a top 20 prospect 52nd overall.

In my final mock I ended up giving the Browns Elijah Moore at 26, with Newsome off the board, to not only add fire power to their receivers but to start building a succession plan for both OBJ and Jarvis Landry. Well, Andrew Berry may have entered the draft with a similar mindset since they added Anthony Schwartz in the third round. Schwartz is the fastest kid alive and has the potential to open up a lot of things for this offense.

With two picks in the fourth Cleveland took James Hudson and Tommy Togiai. I love both of these picks. Hudson is a great stash as a developmental (and potentially swing) tackle behind Conklin and Wills. Togiai flashed at Ohio State and I think he can really stick around in the league and potentially develop into a starting caliber player.

With two 5th’s the Browns opted for linebacker Tony Fields and safety Richard LeCounte. LeCounte bombed his pro day in part with a 4.8 40 but he was a steady presence in the Georgia secondary for years. Maybe something weird just happened that day and it’s worth seeing what he may become this late in the draft.

I love taking Demetric Felton in the 6th. Felton showed out at the Senior Bowl as a running back and I think that’s where he will ultimately stick. As a former receiver he can bring a lot to the passing game out of the backfield and Cleveland can save $6.25 million in cap space by cutting Kareem Hunt in 2022.

Pittsburgh Steelers – D

The Steelers had the second worst pick of the first round. So, bad start. Taking Pat Freiermuth at 55 is actually good value so I can’t even say anything too negative. Pittsburgh finally decided to address the offensive line in the third with Kendrick Green, who I like, but the Steelers have a serious offensive line problem and as of now are hoping Green and fourth round pick Dan Moore are going to be the solution? Like I said with Baltimore (and Buffalo) teams can start signing players soon without it messing up their comp pick formula so we’ll see how Pittsburgh fills out the rest of their roster, but this is why you don’t put lipstick on a pig with a first round running back.

Quincy Roche in the 6th is a nice flyer.

filed under: NFL

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