AFC North Draft Grades:
27. Jimmy Smith, cornerback, Colorado: While the whole trade mess, was a black mark it wasn’t really Baltimore’s fault. Smith fills a big need for the Ravens, and should really help their defense.
85. Jah Reid, tackle, Central Florida: The Ravens have multiple offensive linemen who are free agents and Reid is a nice value at this spot.
123. Tandon Doss, wide receiver, Indiana: With Housh a free agent and Mason nearing the end of his career, Baltimore needs multiple WR’s. Doss is a good value here and I see him developing into a nice number 3 receiver going forward.
164. Chykie Brown, cornerback, Texas: The Ravens CB’s were pretty bad last season and their top 3 corners are all free agents. Brown is a good nickel corner prospect and should have an impact going forward.
165. Pernell McPhee, defensive end, Mississippi State: This is a great value for McPhee who was more of a 4th round prospect. I’ll be interested to see if they look for him to stand up, or put on weight and play the 5 technique, but either way he has value.
180. Tyrod Taylor, quarterback, Virginia Tech: Taylor is a nice value here and while he might never become a starting QB, he could help as a wildcat type of QB.
225. Anthony Allen, running back, Georgia Tech: This is a nice value for the Ravens as Baltimore is likely to lose a couple of their backup backs to free agency. Allen has nice size and could be a good between the tackles back in the future.
Baltimore did a great job addressing their needs at CB and WR, while at the same time not reaching for players. Grabbing Reid was a nice pickup in the 3rd round that filled another big need as well. I also liked their late round picks as I believe none were reaches and all add quality depth to the Ravens.
4. A.J. Green, wide receiver, Georgia: I like AJ Green, but when you have as many needs as the Bengals have a wide receiver isn’t really the answer. Apparently the Bengals had a chance to take the Falcons offer and they passed on it, which I think they will grow to regret.
35. Andy Dalton, quarterback, TCU: I like Andy Dalton and could see him start in this league, but he was more of a 2nd or 3rd round pick in my book. I just don’t think Dalton will be any better than an average starter and that to me isn’t worth a high 2nd rounder.
66. Dontay Moch, defensive end, Nevada: Moch is an impressive pass rusher, but he really only looks like a situational pass rusher for the Bengals. I just don’t know if he can be an every down LB in a 4-3. I love this area for Moch, but just don’t know if he is good fit here.
101. Clint Boling, guard/tackle, Georgia: This is a good fit for Boling and nice value pick here. The Bengals needed to address their line and this is a nice addition for them.
134. Robert Sands, safety, West Virginia: I love this pick for the Bengals. Sands is a bit raw, but he has big time upside, and feels a big need for them.
167. Ryan Whalen, wide receiver, Stanford: Whalen is a nice pick here. Cincy needs some depth at WR and Whalen is a good possession receiver.
207. Korey Lindsey, cornerback, S. Illinois: Lindsey is a nice value pick here and gives the bengals some nice depth.
246. Jay Finley, running back, Baylor: I like this pick for the Bengals, Finley is a power back and should find a role here.
Overall I liked the Bengals draft, but I just felt that their hope of a Green and Dalton combo won’t be what they expect. Green could be great, but the track record for big play receivers isn’t pretty. I also don’t see Dalton as a star quarterback they are looking for. The end of their draft could be pretty redeemable, which makes me think it will all balance out for the Bengals.
21. Phil Taylor, nose tackle, Baylor: While this could be slightly high for Taylor he has the upside to be a star defensive tackle.
37. Jabaal Sheard, defensive end, Pittsburgh: I love this Sheard pick for the Browns. I think he can be a very good pass rusher and should make a big impact for Cleveland.
59. Greg Little, wide receiver, UNC: The Browns gave up the shot to take Julio Jones, but they still could end up with an impact WR. Little has major upside and I think he can be the number one WR, Cleveland was looking to give Colt McCoy.
102. Jordan Cameron, tight end, USC: The Browns added a big time upside TE in Cameron and another weapon for their offense. This is a great value here and really could set the Browns up going forward.
124. Owen Marecic, fullback/linebacker, Stanford: Marecic is a classic fullback, and is a nice pick for the Browns here. He makes their running game even more potent.
137. Buster Skrine, cornerback, UT-Chattanooga: Skrine could be a nice late round value for the Browns and I really believe he can develop into a starter.
150. Jason Pinkston, guard, Pittsburgh: Pinkston is a steal in the 5th round and fits a bit need at either RT or G. I think he can be a solid starter and a nice value pick here.
248. Eric Hagg, safety, Nebraska: Hagg is a good young safety and a real solid 7th round value. He will likely never be a starter, but he is a nice value as a backup/special teamer.
I thought the Browns had an excellent draft from top to bottom. They made the bold move to trade down from number 6 overall, but for their combined 1st and 3rd rounders, Cleveland ended up with Taylor, Little, Marecic and the Falcons 1st and 4th rounder next year. In addition I think Sheard, Cameron, Skrine and Pinkston should all be significant contributors early on in their careers.
31. Cameron Heyward, defensive end, Ohio St: DE wasn’t the biggest need, but Heyward is an excellent value here. Pittsburgh knows how to build a 3-4 defense, and this Heyward pick is the perfect example.
63. Marcus Gilbert, tackle, Florida: Gilbert fills a big need for Pittsburgh at either tackle or guard. He was a nice value pick here and fills a major need for them.
95. Curtis Brown, cornerback, Texas: the Steelers corners last year got burned constantly last season. Brown is a great value at the bottom of the 3rd round and could end up being even better than 2nd round college teammate Aaron Williams.
128. Cortez Allen, cornerback, Citadel: The Steelers needed to double up on CB’s in this draft and they did exactly that. Allen is a nice developmental guy and should be at least a 3rd corner.
162. Chris Carter, outside linebacker, Fresno St: This is an absolute steal for Pittsburgh as Carter was expected to go in the 3rd round. Carter is an excellent pass rushing prospect and is going to the absolute best team possible for him.
196. Keith Williams, guard, Nebraska: The Steelers needed to add multiple offensive linemen, and while Williams isn’t a star prospect, he has some nice potential.
232. Brandon Batch, running back, Texas Tech: This is a nice late round pick for the Steelers as he has some depth potential and could be a special teamer.
Pittsburgh got great value at each of their picks while filling their biggest needs. Pittsburgh added three players that should help them right away, while getting great depth guys later in the draft. The Steelers did a nice job not reaching for players and taking guys that fit their system.