NFL

State of AFC North: Browns turn heads; Ravens leave Flacco high and dry; Steelers hard to peg

The Browns finally did something productive with their arsenal of draft picks. The Steelers drafted polarizing players, making it hard to truly judge their draft. The Ravens spent a lot of time adding to the defense, but very few picks help their quarterback.
State of AFC North: Browns turn heads; Ravens leave Flacco high and dry; Steelers hard to peg

The 2017 NFL Draft is over, and it is time to take a look at how the rest of the AFC North fared. The Ravens went defense early and often, but that could lead to Joe Flacco struggling next season. The Browns actually had a good draft. I know, it’s weird. The Steelers draft has some real question marks throughout.

Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens 2017 Draft Picks
RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
1(16) Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
2(15) Tyus Bowser OLB Houston
3(10) Chris Wormley DT Michigan
3(14) Tim Williams OLB Alabama
4(16) Nico Siragusa OG San Diego State
5(15) Jermaine Eluemunor OT Texas A&M
6(2) Chuck Clark S Virginia Tech
Humphrey surprised by first round call

The first round of the draft was full of shocks and surprises. Marlon Humphrey was as shocked as the rest of us at the strange run on quarterbacks, which pushed talented players like him down the board.

“After I saw Deshaun Watson be the third quarterback, it really surprised me, so it kind of threw off the way I thought the draft would go,” Humphrey said via AL.com. “So I didn’t know where I would be picked or if I would be picked. So when Baltimore called me, that’s why I was so surprised also.”

The Ravens did call though as they chose Humphrey even with their choice of offensive linemen still on the board. The Ravens chose to add a corner who fits their physical profile (and also someone who can help attempt to chase down John Ross, the Bengals’ Round 1 selection. The major point the Ravens made after the pick was how physical Humphrey is. They said it countless times.

Still, did the Ravens need to spend a first round pick on a guy like Humphrey who isn’t likely to start with Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young on the roster? The only reasonable explanation is that he is insurance for an injury prone Smith who has had plenty of trouble staying healthy during his career. The Ravens did stick to the story that he was their best available player at the time, which is questionable. Maybe the Ravens see something more that made him so valuable. Needless to say, it is hard for us as Bengals fans to call out another team for drafting a corner in the first round.

Ravens go defense early and often

It was honestly a little surprising how many defensive players were chosen by the Ravens. Going into the draft, we knew they needed to add a few pass rushers since Terrell Suggs can’t play forever, and they drafted two to add some depth to the position since they also cut Elvis Dumervil this offseason. They got some good value adding Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams during the second night of the draft.

They also had a huge need along the offensive line. It’s no secret the Ravens offensive line is hurting after losing two major pieces during the last two offseasons. They waited until the third day to address this need though. To be fair, this was a very weak offensive line class, but they had really good options sitting there at 16 in the first round, who could’ve had an impact.

They also could’ve added a new receiver to help out Flacco after a rough 2016 season. Flacco’s go-to receiver, Steve Smith Sr., retired this offseason. The Ravens elected not to draft a single receiver though, signaling they are comfortable rolling with Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman as their main receiving threats.

In all fairness, the defensive players they took are fantastic, but the Ravens waited a little too long to decide to protect their biggest investment from getting hit constantly, and they failed to add more weapons for him as well. It could turn out to be a long year for Flacco.

balt

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns 2017 Draft Picks
RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
1(1) Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M
1(25) Jabrill Peppers S Michigan
1(29) David Njoku TE Miami (FL)
2(20) DeShone Kizer QB Notre Dame
3(1) Larry Ogunjobi DT Charlotte
4(20) Howard Wilson CB Houston
5(16) Roderick Johnson OT Florida State
6(1) Caleb Brantley DT Florida
7(6) Zane Gonzalez PK Arizona State
7(34) Matthew Dayes RB North Carolina State
Browns turning heads with their draft

The Browns are slowly changing their infamy with the draft. The last regime was historically bad at drafting. They only have two first round picks from that regime left on the team, Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving. From 2011 to 2014 the Browns had six first round picks who have failed to stick in Cleveland. That regime was great at acquiring picks, but they were awful at turning those picks into difference makers. This new group has had two drafts so far, and they’ve done so much already to give fans in Cleveland hope that things may finally be changing.

First of all, they didn’t screw up the first overall pick. They took easily the best player in the draft in Myles Garrett who will be wreaking havoc on the NFL for years to come. Andy Dalton should be scared.

They traded out of the 12th spot back to 25 to get Houston’s first round pick next season, and they already own their second round pick as well after the Brock Osweiler trade. The Browns ended up taking Jabril Peppers, who I personally wasn’t a fan of as a prospect. He is a bit of risk as far as translating his talent to success in the NFL. He didn’t play too much safety in college, which is what he will be in the NFL, but he does have an incredible amount of athleticism to work with.

The Browns weren’t finished in the first round as they traded back up to take the second best tight end in the draft, David Njoku. He adds an athleticism and playmaking ability the Browns haven’t had outside of Gary Barnidge’s weird 2015 season. And, adding Njoku actually made them decide to part ways with Barnidge just hours later.

They also added DeShone Kizer in the second round, which is an incredible value. It will be exciting to see what Hue Jackson will be able to do with the talent and drive Kizer possesses.

The rest of the draft was spent getting incredible value for players, and it really confirmed the idea the Browns may finally be headed in the right direction.

Browns done with Barnidge

As mentioned above, the Browns drafted Njoku late Thursday night. Barnidge decided to be a good teammate and welcome the rookie.

It is rough to watch that unfold, but that is the business of football. Barnidge had a breakout season two years ago, but last season he regressed quite a bit. The NFL is a what have you done for me lately league, and the Browns made it clear they weren’t banking on a 31-year0old (32 by the time the season starts) recapturing the magic he had during the 2015 season.

Cleveland already loaded for 2018 draft

One thing Cleveland accomplished this offseason was capitalizing on the draft capital they acquired last year. They came into the 2017 draft with 11 picks and wound up selecting 10 players after some wheeling and dealing. They did the same thing this offseason and during the draft, too, and loaded up for next year’s draft as well.

It started with the Osweiler trade where Houston sent over the quarterback, his ridiculous contract and a second round pick for the Browns. They add that pick to the second round pick they got in the Carson Wentz deal in 2016, as well as their own pick for three second round picks total coming in 2018. Then, when Houston wanted to move up to 12 from 25, the Browns managed to get their first round pick next season as well. That gives them five picks in the first two rounds in 2018. They also have an extra fourth round pick from the Andy Lee trade, and a sixth rounder from the Steelers for Justin Gilbert.

Right now, the Browns have 12 picks for next year’s draft. This is before they probably make some more deals when cuts start coming around and before the trade deadline. The Browns have shown they can trade with the best of them.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Draft Picks
RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
1(30) T.J. Watt OLB Wisconsin
2(30) JuJu Smith-Schuster WR USC
3(30) Cam Sutton CB Tennessee
3(41) James Conner RB Pittsburgh
4(29) Joshua Dobbs QB Tennessee
5(30) Brian Allen CB Utah
6(30) Colin Holba LS Louisville
7(30) Keion Adams DE Western Michigan
Steelers have a very weird draft

It is really hard to judge this draft. Your opinion on your Steelers’ draft class probably depends on if you’re a fan of the team, or not. It is easy to criticize their draft, but it is just as easy to make a case for why the Steelers picked who they did.

It started in the first round when they selected T.J. Watt to add some pressure to a defense that is desperate for it. Watt is the little brother of J.J. Watt, so clearly talent and having two letters for a name runs in the family. The knock on Watt is he only started one season in college. It could take him some time to grasp Pittsburgh’s complicated defense. It may have also been a slight reach considering a lot of draft analysts considered him a second round pick. If you want a guy, sometimes it is best to just take him when you can as there was no chance for him to fall deep into the second round.

The Steelers also Selected JuJu Smith-Schuster, who I’ll talk about a bit more below, but Smith-Schuster doesn’t have the speed of a typical Steelers receiver, which may be the point. Ben Roethlisberger may miss throwing the ball up to a big receiver who can go up and get it like Plaxico Burress use to.

pitt

More in NFL

Are the Jets really tanking?

Robin StewardJune 14, 2017

Marshawn Lynch expected to be traded from Seahawks to Raiders. How will that work?

Robin StewardApril 13, 2017

Randy Moss signing with a soccer team is probably an April Fools’ joke

Robin StewardApril 1, 2017

Patriots receivers’ turnaround sparked their tremendous Super Bowl comeback win

Robin StewardFebruary 8, 2017

2016 Patriots are eerily similar to the 2003 Patriots that won the Super Bowl

Robin StewardJanuary 26, 2017

Kirk Cousins might be on 49ers radar this offseason

Robin StewardJanuary 22, 2017

Seahawks vs. Falcons 2017 final score: Young Atlanta defense steps up in 36-20 win over Seattle

Robin StewardJanuary 14, 2017

Giants vs. Packers 2017 final score: Green Bay dominates second half to beat New York, 38-13

Robin StewardJanuary 10, 2017

Seahawks tried a trick play against the Rams that ended with Doug Baldwin falling on his butt

Robin StewardDecember 15, 2016

Are You Looking For The Best Analysis Of The Big Game?