NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

Kenny Pickett could lead to a high grade for Pittsburgh in the NFL Draft Grades
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The NFL Draft is officially over so it is time to hand out NFL Draft Grades! These NFL Draft Grades will cover all 32 teams who will be graded based on who they picked, team needs, and their overall draft process. Here are the NFL Draft Grades for the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens: A-

The Ravens might have had the best draft through the first two days of the weekend. But a lot of their Day 3 moves left me confused. That said, the draft is about what you do at the top, and few teams did as well as Baltimore. The Kyle Hamilton selection was a great recovery from missing out on Jordan Davis. He’s one of the top five players in this draft based on talent, and is a defensive chess piece. Tyler Linderbaum was the best center in this class, and they got him plus extra draft capital by trading Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, then trading back two spots. Excellent process to get the best player at his position late in the first round.

Although his size could limit him in the physical AFC North. David Ojabo in the second round even with the injury is incredible value. He’s a top 15 talent they let fall all the way to them on Day 2. Travis Jones is the “Jordan Davis-lite” of this draft class and is an excellent fit. And finally Daniel Faalele is another huge and physical freak at tackle (6’8, 380) who should develop nicely into a reliable starter.

They are also obviously changing their philosophy, electing to not go WR in this draft after the trade but instead take two TEs in the fourth round. While I can see the vision for giving Quarterback Lamar Jackson big targets in the middle of the field, taking multiple tight ends in one round seems risky. They also took a running back and punter on Day 3, which are positions you don’t want to draft unless they’ll be impact players. They did however take two cornerbacks to add depth to a position that was hurting last year.

Cincinatti Bengals: B

With just six selections in the 2022 NFL Draft the Cincinatti Bengals did a pretty good job. The two biggest needs they had this offseason were offensive line and defensive backfield. In free agency they addressed the line by bringing in Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. In the draft they started with two versatile defensive backs, Daxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt. Both players have experience at both safety spots, as well as cornerback. It’ll be interesting to see how the two rookies will be used considering the team brought back Jesse Bates III and still has Vonn Bell on the roster. The Bengals also found good value on Day 3 with Cordell Volson and Jeffrey Gunter. Volson could end up being a starter on their offensive line and Gunter is a high upside edge rusher.

Cleveland Browns: C

The Cleveland Browns had just a fine draft. But what would you expect not picking until the third round? Even so, some of their moves were perplexing. Their first pick was a corner, despite extending Denzel Ward and drafting a corner in the first round of last year’s draft. But defensive line was a big need for them which they addressed well with Alex Wright, Perrion Winfrey, and Isaiah Thomas. Winfrey especially was a steal in the fourth round. Wide Receiver David Bell will be an interesting player to watch after enjoying a productive college career, but came in to the draft with poor testing numbers. Another mid round receiver underwhelming would not look good for the team. Taking a kicker in the fourth round is also bold, and could be disastrous if it does not work out.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+

The B+ grade for the Pittsburgh Steelers almost serves as an incomplete. As the only team to take a QB in the first round, they have the highest ceiling for a grade in this draft. If Kenny Pickett hits and is a top 10 QB in this league, they could potentially have the best draft from the year. If he fails, or is just average, it could hurt the team in a big way. But they get points for the process of waiting at 20, and still getting the top QB on their board.

They also heavily addressed the WR position with two picks in the middle rounds. WR from a depth charge standpoint was their biggest need, and they got two excellent products. George Pickens and Calvin Austin III will add a downfield, big-play element the Steelers were missing before the weekend. DeMarvin Leal also brings an infusion of young talented to a strong, but aging, defensive line. HB Connor Heyward not only provides a familial element but is a swiss-army knife offensive weapon that should be utilized in Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada’s system. Leaving the edge rusher position unattended (especially with some talent available in the later rounds) brought the grade down slightly.

Be sure to follow along as I give NFL Draft Grades for all 32 teams, right here on Fantom Sports! And for more draft content you can listen to my podcast, the Simon Shortt Podcast, on Apple and Spotify!

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