The draft is final, and I wanted to take some time to let it sink in before delving into grades. I will start my series with the AFC North – home to my Cincinnati Bengals! The North didn’t have many early picks, and the division went heavy on defensive players. While some picks may not be the sexiest, each team addressed huge needs.
Here are my grades and how I believe each team fared!
- 1.23: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
- 3.86: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
- 4.124: Tavius Robinson, DE, Ole Miss
- 5.157: Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford
- 6.199: Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, OT, Oregon
- 7.229: Andrew Vorhees, G, USC
The Ravens kicked off their draft class by taking Flowers, an electric receiver who can man the slot. Much has been made about the lack of passing attempts in Baltimore. New offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, led a Georgia offense that threw 455 times in 2022 and pushed the ball downfield. Lamar Jackson’s passing attempts have decreased in the past few years, but adding Flowers and veteran Odell Beckham Jr. may signal a change coming.
The addition of Trenton Simpson is critical, and the Ravens declined the fifth-year option on Patrick Queen today. Simpson should be groomed to take over the role and lead the defense with versatility and range. I thought Simpson was a borderline first-round talent and a value in the third.
The rest of the guys are depth pieces, but Kelly has the potential to be a starter, most likely as a nickel back. I liked his skill set; getting him in the fifth was a screaming value. Vorhees was once thought to be a top lineman as well.
The Ravens did what they could with limited picks and added impact players in Flowers and Simpson. They could be pleasantly rewarded with Kelly and Vorhees as well.
- 1.28: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
- 2.60: DJ Turner II, CB, Michigan
- 3.95: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
- 4.131: Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
- 5.163: Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
- 6.206: Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton
- 7.246: DJ Ivey, CB, Miami
Personal love aside, the Bengals had a really strong draft. I was running the draft card up to the podium as soon as they were on the clock; getting Murphy at pick 28 was a monstrous value. Most had him projected as top 10-15, and he has the ability to be an impact player. He will need to develop more moves but has a lethal first step and a relentless motor. The secondary is upgraded with Turner, a sticky corner from Michigan that could have been drafted higher, and Battle can contribute right away with the losses of Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates.
The offense got some love, too, with a trio of guys who provide interesting depth. Jones is an older receiver, but his tape is uber-impressive, and he’s a baller. He will step in when one of the top three goes down and give the Bengals an option if a receiver has to be let go. Jones is also a special teams stud. Brown gives them a good depth back and a guy to fill in if Mixon can’t play. I don’t love him as a long-term answer. And Iosivas was one of my favorite prospects. He played his college ball at Princeton and faced weak competition. But he’s a big cat with ball skills and interesting tools.
The team addressed needs and got great value with Murphy and Battle. Turner could develop into a legit NFL corner, and the receivers could be solid WR3s down the road. I would have loved to see more offensive linemen added.
- 3.74: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
- 3.98: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
- 4.111: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
- 4.126: Isaiah McGuire, DE, Missouri
- 4.140: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
- 5.142: Cameron Mitchell, CB, Northwestern
- 6.190: Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State
The Deshaun Watson trade hamstrung the Browns in this draft, and their first pick wasn’t until the third round. They knocked it out of the park by taking Tillman, and he could be an immediate contributor. Amari Cooper has one outside spot locked down, and Elijah Moore should man the slot. I like Tillman much more than Donovan Peoples-Jones, but DPJ is the other starter and is only under contract through 2023. Jones and Wypler could work their way into starting roles on the offensive line, and each was a massive value. Thompson-Robinson will be one of the best backup QBs in the league, I like his skill set.
Ika will help the Browns’ defensive line by locking up the middle and eating up space. McGuire and Mitchell give them depth, but Mitchell will likely only be a special teamer.
Tillman could be a solid starter and a WR2 for many years, but the rest of the class has upside, yet they could end up being projects. Jones was mocked in the first round, and he’s a massive man but has a lot of work to be a starter. Wypler fell way too far, teams may see something I don’t, and I thought he could be a starter too.
- 1.14: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
- 2.32: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
- 2.49: Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
- 3.93: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
- 4.132: Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin
- 7.241: Cory Trice, CB, Purdue
- 7.251: Spencer Anderson, G, Maryland
The Steelers had a phenomenal draft and filled many needs. Jones fell to them at pick 14, when many thought he was the top tackle. He will start right away and provide much-needed help to the offensive line. In the third round, the Steelers grabbed a massive red-zone target, Washington. He’s a nasty blocker and has freakish athletic talent. We are likely going to see the Steelers running more 12 personnel sets.
You may recognize the name Joey Porter and Steelers fans love the renowned legend – and now they have his son. Porter Jr. will likely start right away, and he’s a physical corner who is not afraid to tangle with receivers. Benton is going to contribute early, too. He’s a powerful run-stuffer and nearly impossible to move. Herbig also will see early playing time as a rotational linebacker and special teamer. He’s a blue-collar guy and a perfect fit in the Steel City.
The team drafted three day-one starters and a freakish talent who many had mocked in the first round. It’s tough to fault any team that can accomplish that, and the Steelers continued their tradition of strong drafts.