American Football

NFL Draft Recap: AFC North

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Beatdown
NFL Draft Recap: AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Round 1, Pick 30- T.J. Watt, Linebacker/Defensive End, Wisconsin
  • Round 2, Pick 62- Juju Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver, USC
  • Round 3, Pick 94- Cameron Sutton, Defensive Back, Tennessee
  • Round 3, Pick 105- James Connor, Pittsburgh
  • Round 4, Pick 135- Josh Dobbs, Quarterback, Tennessee
  • Round 5, Pick 173- Brian Allen, Defensive Back, Utah
  • Round 6, Pick 213- Colin Holba, Long Snapper, Louisville
  • Round 7, Pick 248- Keion Adams, Defensive End, Western Michigan

T.J. Watt obviously reminds analysts of his older brother J.J., but he has some growing before he reaches his brother’s level. Nevertheless, he will bring a disruption on every snap. Juju Smith-Schuster will pair with Antonio Brown and will force the defense to cover both of them, rather than double teaming Brown. Cam Sutton was a solid corner at Tennessee and will likely play an immediate role in the defensive backfield.

James Connor is both a feel good story and a great player. During his career at the University of Pittsburgh, Connor was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after having numerous physical problems during practice. He continued to participate in team practices, and announced in May of 2016 that he was cancer free after numerous chemotherapy sessions. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in his final season in college, and was named ACC Player of The Year. He’ll obviously be behind Le’Veon Bell and perhaps Knile Davis, but Connor is a bruiser in waiting.

Brad Allen and Keion Adams will provide depth on defense, and Colin Holba is obviously going to be the new long snapper.

Josh Dobbs is a curious case. Much has been made about him turning down a job offer from NASA to enter the NFL Draft. He is obvioulsy intelligent, but that doens’t necessarily mean he has a high level of football intelligence, as it’s called. He can burn defenses with his feet, but his arm has been suspect, and that is the main factor in being an NFL quarterback. He has had accuracy issues, and it seems that the further along the play goes and the deeper his receivers get, the worse his throws become. However, this can be fixed in practice. Dobbs is unlikely to be who the Steelers see as Ben Roethlisberger’s long term replacement. Landry Jones, who was supposed to be Big Ben’s replacement for at least a season or two, has seemingly not progressed to the team’s standard, and so Dobbs was brought in. Dobbs could become a very good player with some work, but as of now, it seems he’s the new stop gap for when Roethlisberger hangs up his cleats.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Round 1, Pick 9- John Ross, Wide Receiver, Washington
  • Round 2, Pick 48- Joe Mixon, Running Back, Oklahoma
  • Round 3, Pick 73- Jordan Willis, Defensive End, Kansas State
  • Round 4, Pick 116- Carl Lawson, Defensive End, Auburn
  • Round 4, Pick 128- Josh Malone, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
  • Round 4, Pick 138- Ryan Glasgow, Defensive Tackle, Michigan
  • Round 5, Pick 153- Jake Elliott, Kicker, Memphis
  • Round 5, Pick 176- J.J. Dielman, Center, Utah
  • Round 6, Pick 193- Jordan Evans, Linebacker, Oklahoma
  • Round 6, Pick 207- Brandon Wilson, Defensive Back, Houston
  • Round 7, Pick 251- Mason Schrek, Tight End, Buffalo

The Bengals had the most picks in the draft, and boy did they use them. John Ross does have some durability concerns, but he is the fastest NFL player on record, and he can be an absolute burner if he stays healthy.  Josh Malone was a good pass catcher for Josh Dobbs at Tennessee, and will make a good rotational receiver behind Ross and AJ Green. Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson, and Ryan Glasgow heavily bolster the defensive front, with Jordan Evans providing some literal backup. Dielman, Evans, Wilson, and Schrek will provide good depth, but may wind up on the practice squad. Jake Elliott will compete with the inconsistent kicker Randy Bullock, who has missed easy chip shot field goals throughout his career.

The Joe Mixon pick is one of the most controversial of the entire draft. Mixon is an extremely talented running back, but his past has haunted him his entire college career. Mixon punched a woman in the face during an arguement in 2014, causing her face to smash into a table, which required the woman to have surgery to repair the damage. While a settlement has been reached and Mixon has served his punishment, the incident caused numerous teams to publicly state that they would not draft him due to character concerns. Mixon has stated that he regrets the incident and that he is matured past that kind of behavior. If Mixon can stay out of trouble, he will be a valuable asset.

Cleveland Browns

  • Round 1, Pick 1- Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
  • Round 1, Pick 25- Jabril Peppers, Safety/Linebacker/Cornerback/Running Back, Michigan
  • Round 1, Pick 29- David Njoku, Tight End, Miami
  • Round 2, Pick 52- DeShone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame
  • Round 3, Pick 65- Larry Ogunjobi, Defensive Tackle, Charlotte
  • Round 4, Pick 126- Howard Wilson, Defensive Back, Houston
  • Round 5, Pick 160-Roderick Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Florida State
  • Round 6, Pick 185- Caleb Brantley, Defensive Tackle, Florida
  • Round 7, Pick 224- Zane Gonzalez, Kicker, Arizona State
  • Round 7, Pick 252- Matthew Dayes, Running Back, North Carolina State

Moneyball may finally be working in football. Paul DePodesta, the man who introduced the concept now known as “Moneyball” to Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, left baseball and joined the Browns as Chief Strategy Officer in early 2016. Many questioned if the strategy would work in football, though it is very effective in baseball. DePodesta seems to have done well so far, as the Browns wrangled three first round picks through two several trades over two offseasons. The first overall pick was their own by virtue of being the absolute worst team in the NFL. They selected Myles Garrett with that pick, rather than taking a quarterback, as many figured they would. They have Osweiler, but most experts assumed they would try to trade Osweiler themselves and take a quarterback with one of their picks. Garrett was the much safer pick, as he is the most dominant pass rusher in the class, and he will be a wrecking ball for years to come.

Jabril Peppers was their second first round pick, but it did not come without questions. Peppers is an extremely versatile player, having played on both sides of the ball at numerous positions throughout his football career, including at a high level college (Michigan). However, Peppers is considered to be undersized at both defensive back and linebacker, his two main positions. Further questions arose when his drug test sample from the combine came back as diluted, meaning that there was too much water in his urine to get a definitive result. Diluted samples are almost always seen as athletes over-hydrating in order to cover up drug use of some sort. However, Cleveland wasn’t concerned about it, and took Peppers. If he can prove everyone wrong and continue to perform at multiple positions like he did at Michigan, this will be a worthwhile pick.

David Njoku is a dynamic pass catcher, to use a cliched term. He will provide a target for either Osweiler or DeShone Kizer, the second round pick. Kizer was hit with the stigma of having gone to Notre Dame, a school that doesn’t belong to a conference and thus can choose to face any school that will accept their offers. This has lead to people saying Notre Dame selects weaker teams to ensure victory. Kizer had a lot more surrounding him than that, but he can be a quality quarterback with some time.

Larry Ogunkobi, Howard Wilson, Caleb Brantley, and Roderick Johnson will provide depth, in all likelihood. Ogunjobi will likely get the most playing time of the later round picks. Matthew Dayes may make the team for depth at the running back position, and Zane Gonzalez has a very good chance to take the kicker position away from Cody Parkey, as he stood out during his time at Arizona State, winning the Lou Groza Award for best college placekicker.

Overall, this is a very, VERY good draft for the Cleveland Browns, who just need to figure out how to use all of this young talent to finally break out of the doldrums of the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens

  • Round 1, Pick 16- Marlon Humphrey, Defensive Back, Alabama
  • Round 2, Pick 47- Tyus Bowser, Linebacker, Houston
  • Round 3, Pick 74- Chris Wormley, Defensive End, Michigan
  • Round 3, Pick 78- Tim Williams, Linebacker, Alabama
  • Round 4, Pick 122- Nico Siragusa, Guard, San Diego State
  • Round 5, Pick 159- Jermaine Eluemunor, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
  • Round 6, Pick 186-Chuck Clark, Defensive Back, Virginia Tech

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome has a known soft spot for Alabama, his alma mater. Marlon Humphrey did have a few questions about his play during his Alabama career, but they can easily be rectified, and he should be a vital member of the Ravens secondary. Tim Williams was a first round talent, but concerns about his grasp of certain defensive schemes at Alabama, a few failed drug tests, and an arrest for carrying a gun without a proper permit caused some teams to cow. Williams is a dominating pass rusher and should bring a looming threat ti Baltimore, provided that there are no more off the field incidents.

Tyus Bowser and Chris Wormley will join Williams in the new look front seven for the Ravens, and Chuck Clark will join Humphrey in bolstering the secondary behind Brandon Carr and Eric Weddle. Nico Siragusa is no relation to popular former Ravens lineman Tony Siragusa, but he’s a big body and is likely to begin as a rotation lineman behind John Urschel and Marshal Yanda. Jermaine Eluemunor is likely in the same boat: a backup behind Ronnie Stanley, but may be in the hunt for the other tackle spot. A defense heavy draft for Baltimore, but their offense is pretty stable at the moment, so Baltimore could stand to focus on their defense this year.

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