The AFC North: Grading the Draft Courses of 2021

The draft season has come and gone, and so now it’s time to grade the draft lessons. First up is the AFC North, as every crew from the division had a first-round choice and a number of later-round alternatives. Listed below are the draft grades for every of the groups within the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens: B+

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  1. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (Spherical 1, twenty seventh Total)
  2. Jayson Oweh, OLB, Penn State (Spherical 1, thirty first Total)
  3. Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia (Spherical 3, 94th Total)
  4. Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (Spherical 4, 131st Total)
  5. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (Spherical 5, one hundred and sixtieth Total)
  6. Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame (Spherical 5, 171st Total)
  7. Ben Mason, FB, Michigan (Spherical 5, 184th Total)

The Ravens’ high want appeared at left deal with after buying and selling Orlando Brown to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs proper earlier than the draft. Whereas they uncared for to make use of any of their picks on a cornerstone deal with, it was obvious why after the draft when the crew signed former Steelers deal with Alejandro Villanueva to a 2-year contract. With their essential place of want addressed, they received good worth at different positions to place Lamar Jackson and Co. in a superb place to make a run on the Tremendous Bowl this 12 months.

Getting Bateman at twenty seventh was of nice worth and fitted a necessity for the crew. The Ravens spent their first-round decide on receiver Marquise Brown within the 2019 draft, however Brown is best utilized within the slot versus outdoors. Bateman will step in and instantly change into Jacksons’ high red-zone goal together with his massive body and physicality on the catch level. The crew additionally chosen Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace so as to add extra weapons for Jackson within the 4th spherical. He’s additionally nice on the catch level, tying for 4th within the nation final 12 months with 13 contested catches. He’ll possible trade-off snaps with Brown within the slot.

Ravens Tackle the Protection

With the first-round decide that the crew obtained from the Chiefs, they opted for Penn State outdoors linebacker Jayson Oweh. After letting Matthew Judon depart in free company, the crew wanted depth on the linebacker place. After only one 12 months as a full-time starter, the Ravens will look to deliver Oweh alongside slowly and refine his method to go together with his bodily traits and athleticism.

The crew took two corners as nicely, Ben Stephens from SMU and Shaun Wade from Ohio State. Wade had a improbable 2019 taking part in nickelback with the Buckeyes however struggled in 2020. If he can attain his full potential, he has an opportunity of beginning Week 1. Provided that the crew signed left deal with Alejandro Villanueva after the draft, the Ravens had been capable of finding nice worth at different positions of want.

Cleveland Browns: A-

Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive back Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) celebrates after sacking USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium.
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  1. Greg Newsome ll, CB, Northwestern (Spherical 1, twenty sixth Total)
  2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, ILB, Notre Dame (Spherical 2, 52nd Total)
  3. Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn (Spherical 3, 91st Total)
  4. James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati (Spherical 4, a hundred and tenth Total)
  5. Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State (Spherical 4, 132nd Total)
  6. Tony Fields ll, ILB, West Virginia (Spherical 5, 153rd Total)
  7. Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia (Spherical 5, 169th Total)
  8. Demetric Felton, WR/RB, UCLA (Spherical 6, 211th Total)

When a crew can get two first-round skills utilizing only one first-round decide, that draft is taken into account successful. Basic supervisor Andrew Berry discovered nice worth together with his picks in the previous few drafts, and this 12 months was no totally different.

First up was Northwestern nook Greg Newsome ll. A affected person nook, his protection grade ranked within the 98th percentile in accordance with Professional Soccer Focus. Newsome will compete with final 12 months’s draft decide Grasping Williams for the beginning nook spot reverse former top-10 decide Denzel Ward.

They had been capable of snag Owusu-Koramoah within the second spherical, which was improbable worth given his some predraft predictions had him going within the top-10. A coronary heart subject found late within the course of triggered him to fall out of the primary spherical, however he was cleared, and it’s not anticipated to be a problem sooner or later. He’s a stellar protection participant and brings a variety of versatility to the Browns entrance 7.

Cleveland Provides Excessive Upside Gamers on Offense

The Browns additionally added two stellar weapons on offense in Schwartz and Felton. Schwartz was a burner at Auburn and is spectacular with the ball in his palms. He was 2nd within the nation in display yards final season. Apart from his pace, he’s very uncooked in his route working and will probably be a mission for the Browns receiving employees. Felton fell to sixth due to abysmal testing numbers, however he confirmed a variety of versatility on the Senior Bowl. The Browns grabbed a variety of high-upside gamers and stuffed wants on the identical time. Whereas a variety of their mid-round alternatives might not pan out, Newsome, Owusu-Koramoah, and Schwartz have the potential to be a number of the crew’s greatest payers in a number of years.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B-

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) breaks away from Ohio State linebacker Justin Hilliard (47) as he runs during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Hard Rock Stadium.
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  1. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (Spherical 1, twenty fourth Total)
  2. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State (Spherical 2, fifty fifth Total)
  3. Kendrick Inexperienced, C, Illinois (Spherical 3, 87th Total)
  4. Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M (Spherical 4, 128th Total)
  5. Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M (Spherical 4, a hundred and fortieth Total)
  6. Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin (Spherical 5, 156th Total)
  7. Quincy Roche, OLB, Miami (Spherical 6, 216th Total)
  8. Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma (Spherical 7, 245th Total)
  9. Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech (Spherical 7, 254th Total)

ESPN’s NFL Draft knowledgeable Mel Kiper gave the very best evaluation of the Najee Harris decide at 24 throughout his grading of all 32 groups lessons in his article following the draft.

“I’m a giant fan of Najee Harris, however am virtually at all times towards taking a working again within the first spherical… we’ve seen over the previous decade that good working backs will be present in any spherical — and even as undrafted free brokers.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper

Harris was a improbable participant and loved nice success at Alabama. Nevertheless, depth alongside the offensive line appeared to be a extra urgent want, with many good deal with choices nonetheless obtainable once they chosen at 24.

Other than Harris, the crew chosen primarily high-floor gamers that may play a selected position on this Pittsburgh crew. Freiermuth will change into one other massive physique goal within the purple zone for the ever-aging Ben Roethlisberger. Inexperienced and Moore Jr. are the extra depth items on the offensive line, however their draft place looks like a attain primarily based on these gamers’ pre-draft projections.

Steelers Tackle the Protection

The Steelers added some high-upside guys on the defensive facet of the ball too. Loudermilk is a presence within the trenches at 6’6 and 274 kilos. Whereas not essentially the most athletic man on the sphere, Roche at all times finds a option to the quarterback, main the AAC in sacks and tackles for loss in 2019 throughout his time with Temple. With a stellar linebacking core that includes Devin Bush and T.J Watt, including a big-play man like Roche will solely make the entrance seven extra formidable.

Cincinnati Bengals: B+

Texas Longhorns linebacker Joseph Ossai (46) waits on the snap during the third quarter of the game agains the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium.
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  1. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (Spherical 1, fifth Total)
  2. Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson (Spherical 2, forty sixth Total)
  3. Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas (Spherical 3, 69th Total)
  4. Cameron Pattern, DE, Tulane (Spherical 4, 111th Total)
  5. Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU (Spherical 4, 122nd Total)
  6. D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina (Spherical 4, 139th Total)
  7. Evan McPherson, Ok, Florida (Spherical 5, 149th Total)
  8. Trey Hill, C, Georgia (Spherical 6, a hundred and ninetieth Total)
  9. Chris Evans, RB, Michigan (Spherical 6, 202nd Total)
  10. Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State (Spherical 7, 235th Total)

With essentially the most alternatives within the division, the Bengals had essentially the most throws on the dartboard and used that surplus of picks to deal with varied positions.

Dilemma With the Chase Decide

They began at fifth general, the decide that arguably holds them again from receiving an “A” grade. Sure, Chase is a superb receiver and will probably be extremely profitable within the Bengals’ offense. Nevertheless, ignoring the offensive line might be a deadly flaw. With a stable receiving corps of Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, and Tee Higgins, Chase looks like overkill. Oregon’s offensive deal with Penei Sewell was nonetheless on the board at fifth, having fallen previous the Falcons at 4. After watching Joe Burrow get completely massacred final 12 months behind an atrocious offensive line, you’ll have thought the offensive line could be a high precedence.

The subsequent three guys they grabbed can even have the ability to contribute from Day 1. Carman was a key part of a stellar Clemson offensive line for the final three years. He allowed simply 6 sacks in over 1700 snaps with the Tigers. Ossai has a excessive motor and seemed nice coming off the sting for Texas final season. Pattern completed with the ninth highest general grade amongst all edges within the nation final season. Alongside defensive deal with D.J Reader, Ossai and Pattern will give the Bengals a formidable cross rush.

Cincinnati’s late-round flier might blossom into stable rotational gamers as nicely. Shelvin is an absolute menace within the center and will probably be a giant a part of the Bengals’ run protection going ahead. Smith and Hill present some much-needed offensive line depth whereas Evans provides the crew some versatility subsequent to Joe Mixon within the backfield. Whereas their high decide might come again to “hang-out” them, the remainder of the Bengals’ draft was a step in the best path.

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