|1||14||Kyle Hamilton||S||Notre Dame|
|4||128||Charlie Kolar||TE||Iowa St.|
|4||130||Jordan Stout||P||Penn St.|
|4||139||Isaiah Likely||TE||Coastal Carolina|
UDFA: LB Josh Ross
The Ravens front office have completed yet another draft that pundits claim was best in class. Eric DeCosta learned from the best and just scooped up every sliding stud. S Kyle Hamilton slid because of a slow 40 at the Combine. His speed doesn’t need to be his calling card as a single-high safety with more than sufficient range. At 6’4”, he’s an asset in the run game as well. C Tyler Linderbaum slid because he has t-rex arms and is shorter than ideal. The Ravens saw a savvy iOL who has a profound understanding of play leverage and is smart enough to make the right choice between hand and body leverage as appropriate. EDGE David Ojabo was projected to be a top-16 pick before rupturing his Achilles at his pro day. Baltimore had no problems scooping him up a full round later than pre-injury and has the roster to be patient for a year. It remains to be seen whether the burst is still there for Ojabo 14 months post-injury this time next year.
iDL Travis Jones and OT Daniel Faalele were not thought of as premier prospects due to being on opposite ends of the size spectrum. Jones is shorter than most DTs, but is plenty strong enough to hold his own on the inside. His lower level of competition in college was also notable before he assuaged any concerns at the senior bowl. Faalele is a giant of a man at 6’8” and 384 pounds. With that size comes certain drawbacks that teams were wary of, including slow feet and poor bend. While Faalele suffers from both of these, the Ravens have plenty of experience with bigger OTs, making this a perfect match. If there is one team that could compete with the Commanders’ love for Alabama defenders, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. CB Jalyn Armour-Davis doesn’t do anything spectacularly well but is a solid if still-developing DB. Once again, he is a value because of injuries.
Apparently the Ravens plan to run some 14 personnel this coming season. With the additions of TEs Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely, Baltimore has more variety of skillsets in their TE room than in most teams’ entire offense. Kolar couldn’t block to save his life. What he brings to the table is a polished receiving game that can be used almost like a big WR. Likely has some blocking prowess, but he’s more of a prescribed weapon where he can bowl people over in space. Finally, special teams matter, too, as P Jordan Stout replaces the recently retired Sam Koch. Stout had the best average hangtime in the entire draft class, but didn’t sacrifice too much distance in the process.
|4||136||Cordell Volson||OL||North Dakota St.|
|7||252||Jeffrey Gunter||EDGE||Coastal Carolina|
UDFA: OL Ben Brown (PUP/NFI/IR)
History says that Super Bowl losers, especially those that experienced postseason success earlier than expected, often go through an offseason hangover. The Bengals hope to buck this trend as they went all in during the free agency period. However, their draft was a little more disjointed.
S Dax Hill primarily played in the slot for Michigan, but was drafted with the idea that he would succeed Jessie Bates when he walks in free agency next offseason. Hill is a twitchy DB who can cover even bigger receivers with competitive energy at the catch point. He also has the range to play in a two-high system. He’ll see time all over the defensive backfield for this year. CB Cam Taylor-Britt is the exact opposite type of player. Taylor-Britt has all the physical tools you could want, running a 4.38 40 while measuring in with 31.5” arms and good jump numbers. The problems lie in his abilities above the shoulders. His time on IR should help him assimilate to the NFL before being expected to contribute. EDGE Zachary Carter was drafted specifically for the lessons learned during last season’s playoff run. Too many teams were able to effectively run the ball on the Bengals front, so they drafted a run-defending EDGE in Carter who weighs in at 280 pounds. EDGE Jeffrey Gunter is the better pass rusher in this draft class. Possibly best-known for bullying Zach Wilson, Gunter has good quickness but variable effort and strength.
OL Cordell Volson is next in line for a Bison OT to move to guard in the NFL. Volson is large but lacks some of the refinement that you would expect from a lineman that’s been through as many postseason runs as North Dakota State has gone through. He’ll make his money by showing his nasty streak to make up for poor feet.
|3||68||Martin Emerson||CB||Mississippi St.|
|7||246||Dawson Deaton||OL||Texas Tech||PUP/NFI/IR|
UDFA: S D’Anthony Bell, WR Isaiah Weston
The Browns didn’t have too many premium picks due to the acquisition of a certain quarterback. With established players at most positions, Cleveland came into the draft looking to add depth at all positions. CB Martin Emerson is an unremarkable player whose most notable trait is his patience. He can afford to wait on the pass to reach his receiver due to his spidermonkey-like arms measuring 33”. His aggressiveness at the catch point utilizing this length leads to a low completion percentage but higher YAC when the ball does manage to get through. EDGE Alex Wright has a superb frame. The coaching staff will have to train him to use his length and size to rush the passer. As of now, he is mostly a run-defender with the occasional sack simply from being more athletic than the OL in front of him. Expect him to rotate in early, especially on run-downs. iDL Perrion Winfrey doesn’t have the best balance that leads to getting beat often because his pads are too high. This has developed an overreliance on his powerful paws that has beaten many a Big 12 guard into submission. Cleveland has collected quite the collection of run-stuffing DTs and Winfrey will fit right into the rotation.
WR David Bell was a puzzling figure during the evaluation process. In my studies, I don’t know that I’ve seen even 20% of his routes be anything but a variation of a slant. The WR was clearly productive in college but there were many questions left unanswered regarding his separation ability. His pedestrian 40 time at the Combine did not help that perception and even slower time at his Pro Day was alarming. He should provide a warm body in a pinch.
The Browns look to fill their void at kicker with K Cade York. His experience in big games boosted his pre-draft grades and his accuracy numbers overshadowed his potential for an even bigger leg.
|3||84||DeMarvin Leal||iDL||Texas A&M|
|6||208||Connor Heyward||TE||Michigan St.|
|7||241||Chris Oladokun||QB||South Dakota St.||Cut/Waived|
UDFA: RB Jaylen Warren, CB Carlins Platel
The Steelers took the first QB off the board in QB Kenny Pickett to avoid missing out on the top-ranked QB from Pitt potentially becoming a Hall of Famer again. Pickett’s draft stock tumbled after the Combine where he measured in with 8.5” hands. It took him six years to figure it out at Pitt, but he thrived under Mark Whipple’s system by portraying good accuracy and a firm grasp of the scheme. The need for gloves will always be an issue, but as long as he avoids some of the poor habits of current-starter Mitch Trubisky, he could be the signal caller for the future. Twitter was all the rage about WR George Pickens, proclaiming him a “dawg”. Because of injuries, Pickens only posted 90 receptions in his college career. But the Steelers get a physically gifted WR with natural instincts for the position. The WR room is not quite as crowded as in the past in Pittsburgh, so Pickens will get an opportunity to work into the rotation and bet the third or fourth option in the offense. The diminutive WR Calvin Austin provides a jolt to the position group as a slot-only option. I wrote this about him before the draft: “Most of his separation package consists of manipulating his speed and leveraging his lower center of gravity. This can be seen at his route stem, where he consistently resets his feet to accelerate out of breaks. While his size may hinder his ability to high-point balls over DBs, he does track the ball well in the air and has the athleticism to adjust and get under deep balls.” FB Connor Heyward was drafted because he is Cam Heyward’s brother. He’ll compete for the starting job, but only makes this team if he shows his worth on special teams.
iDL Demarvin Leal was the epitome of Texas A&M football in 2021. Despite some of the highest of high points, Leal ultimately fell flat when he was most needed. His penetration skills are some of the best in the class thanks to his explosion at the snap. As a sub-300 pound defensive lineman, however, he needs to either put on weight or learn the functional strength to anchor down in the interior when penetration doesn’t work.