Making the grade: Post NFL draft; AFC North
- Updated: May 9, 2016
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens were hindered tremendously by injuries all over. Suggs went down in Week 1 with a torn Achilles tendon, Joe Flacco tore his ACL and MCL in Week 11, and to top it off, Steve Smith tore his Achilles during his retirement tour to end his season. Baltimore was in such disarray from start to finish with injuries, but what needed to be addressed the most was the offensive line because Flacco was constantly under pressure all season. Best thing to do is address the offensive line and drafting Ronnie Stanley from Notre Dame should do the trick. Solid offensive tackle with great feet and great run blocker should help in the running game with Justin Forsett running up the gut. Kamalei Correra and Bronson Kaufusi add youth to a defensive line that is aging with Dumervil and Suggs in their 30s. The Ravens still need weapons on the outside which is something that I figured Ozzie Newsome would go after. Nonetheless, the Ravens know how to draft and draft well. Solid class for the flock.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are in a little bit of limbo. Another playoff loss for Marvin Lewis although you can’t knock the fight out of Cincy. Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones left the fold in free agency which means more young talent is needed on the outside to go alongside A.J Green. Selecting William Jackson III adds depth in the secondary while keeping him away from division rival Pittsburgh. Tyler Boyd, from Pitt is a wide out who has garnered comparisons the likes of Jimmy Smith. Definitely speaks volume for his future potential. Andrew Billings from Baylor is likely the replacement for Domata Peko who is in a contract year. By the way, he is over 30 now which means look for Billings, nose tackle, to replace the productive veteran at the end of this season. Bengals could face a little setback without Hue Jackson making the calls as offensive coordinator.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns are coming off yet another disappointing season. This has been a long term virus for the faithful fans of the Dawg Pound. Mike Pettine gone and finally Johnny Manziel is vanished from the fold. Insert Hue Jackson as the head coach and bring in RGIII from Washington and maybe Cleveland could rock again. First things first, the draft saw the Browns go from the second overall pick down to number 15 with two separate trades between the Eagles and the Titans. With pick number 15, Cleveland drafted speedy wide receiver Corey Coleman out of Baylor which should do great things with Robert if does win the starting job. With all this trading down, the Browns managed to rack up 14 draft picks. Focus on the defense was paramount for a team that couldn’t stop anyone. Cleveland focused on that in Day 2 of the draft selecting Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib. Getting Shon Coleman out of Auburn could help in the running game which will be a focus under Hue Jackson’s offense. Racking up on picks could mean big times for the future of the Browns.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers wouldn’t be the Steelers if they didn’t come into the draft focusing on defense. The offense is there especially bringing back Le’Veon Bell in the backfield after missing the second half of the season tearing his MCL in Week 7. The defense was the Achilles heel for the Steelers which you don’t usually attribute to a conventional Steelers team. The Steelers started to revamp their secondary by drafting Artie Burns out of the U and in the second round drafting the oft inconsistent corner Sean Davis out of Maryland. Showing some love for the MEAC, the Steelers drafted Javon Hargrave from South Carolina State who might have trouble making the next step to the league, but the motor and heart are all there. Hawkins will be a project on the offensive line. He will need to improve his power at the point of attack in order to be successful. Per usual, the Steelers do their thing with the draft.