Draft Grades: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

1 – Round 1 (32): Matt Elam, S. Florida
2 – Round 2 (56): Arthur Brown, LB. Kansas State
3 – Round 3 (94): Brandon Williams, DT. Missouri Southern State
4 – Round 4 (129): John Simon, DE/OLB. Ohio State
5 – Round 4 (130): Kyle Juszczyk, FB/TE. Harvard
6 – Round 5 (168): Ricky Wagner, OT. Wisconsin
7 – Round 6 (200): Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE. Notre Dame
8 – Round 6 (203): Ryan Jensen, OG/C. Colorado State-Pueblo
9 – Round 7 (238): Aaron Mellette, WR. Elon
10 – Round 7 (247): Marc Anthony, CB. California

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Following the departure of future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens had the impossible task of finding replacements at the safety and linebacker positions. While it is literally impossible to do so, the team targeted the positions and landed two starting-caliber players with each of its first two picks in Matt Elam and Arthur Brown. Elam is a physical, downhill attack safety with ball skills and Brown, a laterally fluid, productive linebacker who finds the football. Brandon Williams was an interesting pick, but I felt he came off the board too early. Still, he poses an interesting project for defensive coaches and the MSS product has loads of untapped potential as a space eater with some movement skills. Ozzie Newsome added a couple good soldiers on either side of the ball in round four with consecutive picks. John Simon is a high energy, high motor 3-4 OLB type who will provide depth to the teams rotation and can play the run. Juszczyk is bit of a hybrid H-back type with blocking ability and sneaky-good receiving skills. A good underneath player or hands in the flats that can turn it up-field with quickness. Rounds five and six brought more depth aboard. Wagner, is a fundamentally sound run blocker with bulk – albeit possessing limited upside. Lewis-Moore adds size at the 3-4 DE spot with a strong lower-half, some lateral agility, and experience in an unbalanced front. Ryan Jensen is an interesting interior OL projection that offers versatility, but I don’t know that he’ll ever be a starter at the NFL level. Aaron Mellette, the productive Elon wide out with size and get-off speed can be a quality big-slot option early in his career if he can prove his separation skills translate. Marc Anthony is primarily a special teamer who may have to really leave a strong impression to make the team at all. It was a solid, unspectacular draft. The Ravens hit off many needs, were realistic in the later rounds adding depth and potentially key role players. Although there isn’t much true impact potential after the first two-three selections, a nice bunch of players should come from this class.

Grade: B

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Cincinnati Bengals

1 – Round 1 (21): Tyler Eifert, TE. Notre Dame
2 – Round 2 (37): Giovani Bernard, RB. North Carolina
3 – Round 2 (53): Margus Hunt, DE. Southern Methodist
4 – Round 3 (84): Shawn Williams, S. Georgia
5 – Round 4 (118): Sean Porter, LB. Texas A&M
6 – Round 5 (156): Tanner Hawkinson, OT/OG. Kansas
7 – Round 6 (190): Rex Burkhead, RB. Nebraska
8 – Round 6 (197): Cobi Hamilton, WR. Arkansas
9 – Round 7 (240): Reid Fragel, OT. Ohio State

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Cincy’s draft is bunched with potential day one starters at the top. Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham should pose a very formidable pass catching tight end duo for Andy Dalton to utilize as they continue to try and stockpile offensive weapons. Gio Bernard is a quick, shifty rusher with nice vision and big-play ability who could even contribute on special teams. Medical is a question on Gio, but if healthy, he could be a nice yard-getter as a rookie in both run and pass games. The Bengals added another physically imposing defensive end to the stable with the Estonian specimen Margus Hunt. Not much immediate pressure to produce in Cincinnati and he can play/learn off fellow freak athletes Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap as he picks up on the subtleties of the position. Shawn Williams is a hard-hitting in the box safety that may vie for time very early on – should have been a day two player. Sean Porter underachieved a little this past year, but he was still a productive starter and should contribute in a rotation as a rookie as well. Tanner Hawkinson will likely play guard exclusively at the next level and will need to strengthen his base and add to his frame in order to potentially move up the depth chart, but he moves well and has good feet. Rex Burkhead has hands and can be a scrappy scat-back type, but he’s limited. Cobi Hamilton was shear value at No. 197. Another big-bodied pass catcher who can make plays down field and high-point a lot of passes. He, like Tyler Wilson, was victim of a major transition year at Arkansas and saw numerous double-teams this past season. Reid Fragel, a converted tight end is a nice wild card to cap this class. Very raw, but had quality athleticism. Developmental swing-tackle. Value almost all over the board and you can see exactly what Cincinnati was trying to achieve with nearly all picks. On paper, I thought it was a win.

Grade: B+

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Cleveland Browns

1 – Round 1 (6): Barkevious Mingo, DE. Louisiana State
2 – Round 2 (N/A): Used on Josh Gordon, WR. Baylor in Supplemental Draft
3 – Round 3 (68): Leon McFadden, CB. San Diego State
4 – Round 6 (175): Jamoris Slaughter, S. Notre Dame
5 – Round 7 (217): Armonty Bryant, DE. East Carolina
6 – Round 7 (227): Garrett Gilkey, OG. Chadron State

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The Cleveland Browns may have fooled a few teams/draftniks into thinking they truly aren’t sold on Brandon Weeden enough that they may have seriously considered a quarterback. We don’t necessarily know they love Weeden, but perhaps simply nobody available this year. Either way, I do value acquiring future picks – like Cleveland was able to do – in a relatively notable way, as it gives them flexibility next year. Michael Lombardi will be around for two years at the very least, so the organization has some chips entering next year. From the top, I’ve long been a fan of Barkevious Mingo. Whether at defensive end, where he’ll likely play, or linebacker, he’s an athlete who can bend, play in space, locate the football, and finish. He’s barely scratched the surface of his potential and the talent speaks for itself with the LSU product. Josh Gordon’s selection in the Supp Draft meant no second round pick, but he’s proven to be a nice piece for the future. Leon McFadden has good feet for the position + fills a need, but limited upside and average value at best leave me wondering whether the Browns plucked a possible starter with the selection. Jamoris Slaughter, Armonty Bryant, and Garrett Gilkey are depth-caliber players that don’t possess much upside above that distinction. Although the movement set up Cleveland for future success in the 2014 draft and Gordon’s rookie season was encouraging, I’ll grade the picks made. I simply see one potential starter from this class and even though I really like the aforementioned player, it wasn’t enough to warrant high marks overall.

Grade: C+

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Pittsburgh Steelers

1 – Round 1 (17): Jarvis Jones, OLB. Georgia
2 – Round 2 (48): Le’Veon Bell, RB. Michigan State
3 – Round 3 (79): Markus Wheaton, WR. Oregon State
4 – Round 4 (111): Shamarko Thomas, S. Syracuse
5 – Round 4 (115): Landry Jones, QB. Oklahoma
6 – Round 5 (150): Terry Hawthorne, CB. Illinois
7 – Round 6 (186): Justin Brown, WR. Oklahoma
8 – Round 6 (206): Vince Williams, LB. Florida State
9 – Round 7 (223): Nicholas Williams, DT. Samford

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Hard to dislike what the Steelers did overall. Jarvis Jones is an immediate plug and play defender who continues the youth turnover on defense. Excellent value, to me, in the pick, as Jones is a playmaker that penetrates and disrupts. I’m not as sold as the team obviously is on Le’Veon Bell’s potential as a third-down ‘back, but he suits what the offense tries to do in the ground game, and if he develops further as a blocker, he could indeed be an unquestioned feature running back for Pittsburgh. So many parallels can be drawn between Markus Wheaton and Mike Wallace as prospects. Straight-line burners, who reach top speed with ease, third round selections. Take it for what it’s worth, but the team obviously knew what role they were trying to replace when adding the player, and I like the pick. Shamarko Thomas is a little stiff and maybe not the most natural cover-safety in the draft, but he fills a similar role to that of Troy Polamalu. That being, a downhill, near the line of scrimmage safety that primarily plays in the box and supports the run. He’s a rocked up athlete with impressive speed and strength. Landry Jones was a bit of an odd one, but I see the schematic fit and if he can quietly develop into a nice backup to Big Ben, it’s a fourth round pick well spent. For as tough as he is, Roethlisberger has only played a full 16-game schedule once in his nine-year career. A good secondary option is needed in Pittsburgh. Terry Hawthorne was a strong value in the fifth round, as I felt he could have gone a round or two earlier based purely on his talent, physical ability, and upside. He’s a fluid athlete with good hips and will fit nicely into a depth role in the short term. Justin Brown never really developed into the potential No. 1 receiver he could have been at Penn State, but flashed. At Oklahoma he was a support option and displayed some YAC ability. He could be a decent fourth or fifth option in time. There’s still some untapped ability there. Vince Williams is another athletic interior linebacker from FSU with fluidity and football IQ, much like Lawrence Timmons. Plays laterally and can hold his own at the point of attack, should be a good special teamer as well. Pittsburgh capped its 2013 draft with 6’5” 310 lbs. 5-tech Nicholas Williams. A decent bargain, as his movement skills and upside had him in the mid-round discussion to some. Top to bottom, I can appreciate Pittsburgh’s ability to draft value and talent when filling primary needs. Another solid one, on-paper.

Grade: B+

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Check me out on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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