As a division, the AFC North may have been the best drafting in the NFL. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it against looks like they are coming up short in comparison to their rivals.
Cincinnati Bengals: A-
The Bengals have done well in recent years through the draft and again look as though they are on the right track to success. Long have I praised who I believe was the best back in the draft Giovani Bernard (RB-UNC) who has versatility, speed and will take the starting job by the end of the year, if not sooner. The pick of Tyler Eifert (TE-ND) in the first was a bit questionable considering they already have a solid TE in Gresham. However, Eifert was easily the best TE and in the draft and considering Dalton’s lack of arm strength he provides another trusty checkdown target. Speaking of, I was a little surprised the Bengals didn’t draft some competition to push Dalton. I think he is serviceable, but will likely never be a star. The additions of Shawn Williams (S-Georgia), Sean Porter (OLB-TAMU), Cobi Hamilton (WR-Arkansas), and Reid Fragel (OT-OSU) were all very solid picks.
Best Pick - Giovani Bernard / Most Questionable – Margus Hunt / Sleeper Pick – Reid Fragel
Baltimore Ravens: B+
The Ravens have had a tough run since their Super Bowl victory. They lost their defensive leaders Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Then saw Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and Anquan Bolden depart via free agency and trades. They needed a solid draft and did well to fill holes. FA pickup Elvis Dumervill will help with the pass rush. Matt Elam (S-Florida) and Arthur Brown (ILB-KState) should step right in as starters and are NFL ready. While the leadership might not be the same, talent wise, they are actually an improvement on the aging veterans. I would have liked to have seen a wide receiver drafted much earlier considering the depth at that position, instead of Brandon Williams (DT-MSS). Later in the draft is where their grade jumped with great picks in the 4-7th rounds including John Simon (DE-OSU), Ricky Wagner (OT-Wisconsin), Kyle Juszczyk (FB-Harvard), and Aaron Mellette (WR-Elon).
Best Pick – Matt Elam / Most Questionable – Brandon Williams / Sleeper Pick – John Simon
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
Similar to their archrivals, the Steelers had some holes to fill this offseason. They had pick holes at WR, RB, and LB which they addressed in their first three picks. Jarvis Jones (OLB-Georgia) slipped down to 17 which I think will be a godsend to Pittsburgh. The best OLB in the draft, Jones just feels like a lifelong Steeler. He could vie for defensive ROY. Le”Veon Bell (RB-MSU) and Markus Wheaton (WR-OregonSt) both addressed needs although Bell was the better pick. He is the kind of workhorse back the team loves. Considering a lack of superior competition, he should be the favorite to start. Wheaton is solid, but replacing Mike Wallace will be a tall order. Landry Jones (QB-OU) is an intriguing pick. It seems a little early to start grooming Big Ben’s prodigy, but he does have injury concerns and Jones needs time to develop. The later picks were not quite as strong as the Ravens, but Vince Williams (ILB-FSU) has high potential value in the 6th round.
Best Pick – Jarvis Jones / Most Questionable – Markus Wheaton / Sleeper Pick – Le’Veon Bell (high pick, but I think he is in the hunt for ROY)
Cleveland Browns: C
The Browns did not have as many picks as some teams, but I’m not sure they used them wisely which is why they get a lower grade. Their defense is actually not their biggest weakness, yet their first four (of five total) picks were on the defensive side of the ball. I do really like Barkevious Mingo (DE-LSU) and he should be a terror off the edge. Leon McFadden (CB-SDSU) is a good player, but at this point the Browns needed to address more on offense. An offensive lineman, wideout, or even quarterback prospect would probably have been more relevant. Then again, maybe the Browns are planning for 2014.
Best Pick - Barkevious Mingo / Most Questionable - Leon McFadden / Sleeper Pick – Garrett Gilkey (OG-Chadron St)