NFL

2015 NFL Draft – AFC North Grades

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In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, the next step is judging how each team performed. The AFC North is one of the top divisions in the NFL placing three teams in the playoffs last year. With strong GM’s and scouting departments the division remains one of the best at evaluating and drafting players. Below are the grades given out to the four teams that occupy the AFC North.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens’ selections:

Round 1 –  Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

Round 2 – Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

Round 3 – Carl Davis, DT, Iowa

Round 4 – Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky

Round 4 – Javorius Allen, RB, USC

Round 4 – Tray Walker, CB, Texas Southern

Round 5 – Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware

Round 5 – Robert Myers, OT, Tennessee

Round 6 – Darren Waller, WR, Georgia Tech

Pick Value Grade Day 1 – A

Overall I like what the Ravens did on both sides of the football. Baltimore focused early on addressing the offense and surrounding quarterback Joe Flacco with new pieces. Former Central Florida receiver Breshad Perriman was the first player taken with the 26th overall pick followed by tight end Maxx Williams (55th overall) on day two.

Last year, 11 of Joe Flacco’s career-high 27 touchdown passes were thrown to receiver Torrey Smith who signed with the San Francisco 49ers after fulfilling his rookie contract in Baltimore. His departure opens the door for Perriman to step in opposite of veteran Steve Smith. At age 35, (Steve) Smith continues to beat father time like he does opposing defensive backs, but the Ravens know his time is ending soon. Perriman has NFL pedigree (father Brett Perriman played 10 years in NFL) and his protypical size and deceptive speed are two of the hallmarks of his game.

Pick Value Grade Day 2 – A

In round three the Ravens landed Iowa defensive end Carl Davis, who one of the top value picks in the entire draft. Davis provides a great interior talent to the defensive front and should quickly be up to speed and getting snaps early and often this upcoming season. The Ravens used their second fourth round pick on Texas Southern’s Tray Walker whose stock skyrocketed after his performance at the College Gridiron Showcase.  Walker is a 6-foot-2, 203 pound defensive back.

Tight end Dennis Pitta has been unable to stay healthy and has only played in seven games since 2013. His inability to stay off the injured reserve list made Williams an easy choice in the second round. It should also be mentioned that the Ravens division rival Pittsburgh Steelers likely would have taken Williams with the 56th overall pick, but Baltimore moved up in the second round to nab him before the Steelers.

Pick Value Grade Day 3 – B

During the final day of the NFL Draft the Ravens took Robert Myers, a small school Senior Bowl invite who held his own against top competition. He’s surprisingly sound from a technique standpoint and has tools to work with and for being a fifth round selection he was a terrific pick.

Overall – A

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals’ selections

Round 1 – Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

Round 2 – Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

Round 3 – Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers

Round 3 – Phil Dawson, ILB, TCU

Round 4 – Marcus Hardison, DE, Arizona State

Round 5 – C.J. Uzomah, TE, Auburn

Round 6 – Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State

Round 7 – Mario Alford, WR, West Virginia

Pick Value Grade Day 1 – B

The first two picks for the Bengals were used on offensive linemen. Texas A&M offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was taken in round one (21st overall) and Jake Fisher from Oregon was drafted in the round two. Fisher was a particularly great value as he was viewed to be a first round graded offensive tackle. Cincinnati stayed one step ahead of the game by selecting Ogbuehi and Fisher, since incumbent book-ends Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith are each entering the final year of their contracts.

The No. 20 was both good and bad for the Cincinnati Bengals. They ranked third in the NFL overall with 20 interceptions, but tanked dead last in the league with only 20 sacks. Many NFL Draft pundits viewed defensive end and cornerback two positions possibly to be filled via the NFL Draft during rounds one and two. Cincinnati elected to use the final day of the draft to take the versatile USC defensive Josh Shaw who can play both cornerback and safety. The Bengals used their other fourth round pick (compensatory) on Arizona State defensive end Marcus Hardison. Hardison is another great value who really came on late and has the potential to out play his fourth round selection.

Pick Value Grade Day 2 – B-

Cincinnati showed the appetite for tight ends by drafting their sixth tight end since 2007. Rutgers’ Tyler Kroft was taken in the third round and will play opposite of 2013 first round selection Tyler Eifert. Their 21st pick overall from 2010 tight end Jermaine Gresham is currently is a free agent.

Pick Value Grade Day 3 – B

Mario Alford is a great pick for Cincinnati considering his upside and the teams lack of depth at the position. With elite speed and great hands he could find himself as a very productive No. 3 receiver behind A.J. Green and Marvin Jones.

Overall Grade – B

 

Cleveland Browns

Browns’ selections

Round 1 – Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Round 1 – Cam Erving, OL, Florida State

Round 2 – Nate Orchard, DE, Utah

Round 3 – Duke Johnson, RB, Miami

Round 4 – Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State

Round 4 – Ibraheim Campbell, S, Northwestern

Round 5 – Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State

Round 6 – Charles Gaines, CB, Louisville

Round 6 – Malcolm Johnson, TE, Mississippi State

Round 6 – Randall Telfer, TE, USC

Round 7 – Hayes Pullard, ILB, USC

Round 7 – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

 

Pick Value Grade Day 1 – B

The actual selections the Cleveland Browns made were on par with any other team in terms of talent. The team selected Danny Shelton with the 12th overall pick, and many believed him to be a top five prospect. The former Washington defensive tackle/end is a highly productive run stuffing force in the middle with the ability to get to the quarterback.

Their second pick in the first round addressed the interior with FSU center Cameron Erving. Cleveland saw their offensive line play sour after starting center Alex Mack broke his leg last season and Mack also has an option to be a free agent after 2015. Adding Erving, who is well versed in all positions up front offensively provides Cleveland a starter at center or possibly guard if their right tackle Mitchell Schwartz does not re-sign with the team after the season, he hits the open market in 2016.


Pick Value Grade Day 2 – C

The neglect of both a quarterback and receiver earlier in the draft drops the Browns down in their overall grade. Cleveland will have to somehow convince opposing defenses they can pass the football and avoid opponents from stacking the box and forcing the Browns to earn yards on the ground. The Browns have some talented units on the team, but both receiver and quarterback are lacking the ability to rub elbows with the elite of the NFL

Pick Value Grade Day 3 – B

Middle round additions like Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper and safety Ibraheim Campbell (4th round) were great value picks for the team. They should become contributors and eventually evolve later down the road.

Overall Grade – C+

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers’ selections

Round 1 – Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

Round 2 – Senquez Golson, CB, Mississippi

Round 3 – Sammie Coates, WR, Clemson

Round 4 – Doran Grant, S, Ohio State

Round 5 – Jesse James, TE, Penn State

Round 6 – Leterrius Walton, DT, Central Michigan

Round 6 – Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami

Round 7 – Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville

 

Pick Value Grade Day 1 – B

The Pittsburgh Steelers have spent first round picks on the outside linebacker position in three of the last straight NFL Drafts. The list includes Jarvis Jones (2013), Ryan Shazier (2014) and new rookie Bud Dupree from Kentucky. Dupree could have been the best player on their board as they passed on the opportunity to select either a cornerback or safety. Outside the doors of the Steelers war room it was highly unconceivable that Pittsburgh would not draft either of those two positions in round one. New defensive coordinator Kevin Butler learned from Hall of Fame player turned coach Dick Lebeau that linebackers are the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh defense. Without elite edge rushers the team struggles to be dominant defensively.

Pick Value Grade Day 2 – B

Usually the team drafts long, physical cornerbacks but changed their philosophy by drafting Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson (5-foo-9, 176 pounds) in round two. He may lack size, but in terms of his total all-around ability to play the position he is second to none. It is also possible that Butler prefers a different style of defensive back to incorporate his defensive scheme. The 87th overall pick came as a shocker when the team took Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates off the board. The guy is a great value and once again looking at overall value instead of team needs the Steelers knew they had to pull the trigger on the speedy, physical specimen.

Pick Value Grade Day 3 – B

Pittsburgh added Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo who fits their 3-4 defense to perfection. Drafted in the sixth round, Chickillo (6-foot-3, 267 pounds) has a real shot at making the team and earning playing time. His high-motor and ability to play with his hand in the ground or standing up off the edge is an intriguing thing to keep an eye on in Pittsburgh. If he ends up at outside linebacker he might remind some of former Steeler Levon Kirkland (6-foot-1, 268 pounds), who was similar in size to Chickillo.

Overall Grade – B

 


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.