The time for the class council has come! After the Draft, here is the evaluation of each team, division by division. The evaluations, in order of quality: congratulations, compliments, encouragement, fair, repetition.
With three teams in the playoffs last year, AFC North is one of the strongholds of the conference. So the Steelers, Ravens and Browns have a solid foundation that they need to improve. For the Bengals, the goal of the draft is different. The idea is to create a framework to build a long-term project.
Pittsburgh Steelers: encouragement
Picks: 24 – Najee Harris (RB), 55 – Pat Freiermuth (TE), 87 – Kendrick Green (C), 128 – Dan Moore (OT), 140 – Buddy Johnson (LB), 156 – Isaiahh Loudermilk (DE), 216 – Quincy Roche (OLB), 245 – Tre Norwood (S), 254 – Pressley Harvin III (P).
The analysis that is made of the Steelers draft depends a lot on the answer to a single question: should we select a running back in the first round (as good as it is)? To this question that tears many NFL observers (and the editorial staff of Touchdown news), each has their answer. We know in any case the opinion of the general manager of the Steelers. Kevin Colbert has indeed chosen Najee Harris with the 24th choice. The Alabama runner arrives in a team in great difficulty on the ground since the start of Le’Veon Bell. That’s good, the running back looks a lot like the one who wore number 26 for the Yellows and Blacks.
Pittsburgh now has its number one weapon on the ground, but still has to open holes on the line. Except to everyone’s surprise, the Steelers selected a tight end in the second round. If Pat Freiermuth is certainly the second best tight end of this vintage, not sure that he deserved to pass in front of a reinforcement on the offensive line given the situation in Pittsburgh. It was not until the 3rd and 4th laps to see Kendrick Green and Dan Moore arrive. While it’s not a scandal to select these players at this point in the draft (far from it), one still wonders if the Steelers could not (or should have) been better. By selecting a tackle in the second round for example.
Paradoxically, it is perhaps the sector that needed it the least, defense, which sees itself being strengthened the most intelligently. Edge rushers Isaiahh Loudermilk and Quincy Roche can become very good rotation players in their first season, while Buddy Johnson is Vince Williams’ scheduled successor in midfield. However, we can regret the lack of reinforcement in the defensive backfield other than Tre Norwood.
Baltimore Ravens: compliments
Picks: 27 – Rashod Batteman (WR), 31 – Odafe Oweh (LB), 94 – Ben Cleveland (L), 104 – Brandon Stephens (CB), 131 – Tylan Wallace (WR), 160 – Shaune Wade (CB), 171 – Daelin Hayes (DE), 184 – Ben Mason (FB).
It’s the same with Baltimore every year. Whether before or during the draft, the Ravens rarely make much noise and remain relatively quiet. Except that when taking stock, we often realize that they are doing rather (very) well. Perfect example in the first round this year with the selection of Rashod Batteman. John Harbaugh had said it, this attack needed a physical receiver to help Lamar Jackson. This is exactly Bateman’s profile.
The University of Minnesota player will bring a whole new dimension to this attack and take aerial play to the next level. Not bad for a player chosen at the very end of the first round. It is not the only example to support the thesis of a draft perfectly carried out by the leaders. We could mention in particular the choice of Shaune Wade in 160th position. The versatile back defensive will bring a little competition to the positions of safety and cornerbacks in the slot. Just like Daelin Hayes who comes to provide him with the depth of the bench on the side of the pass-rushers.
Finally Ben Cleveland and Brandon Stephens are certainly promised to incumbent positions within one or two years. Especially within an organization that knows how to develop its young players. The only downside to this draft may lie in the lack of chosen tackle. Orlando Brown Jr.’s trade left a hole in the line, but the Ravens preferred to draw Odafe Oweh with the pick picked up in that trade. This doubt certainly prevents them from going from “compliments” to “congratulations”.
Cleveland Browns: congratulations
Picks: 26 – Greg Newsome II (CB), 52 – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB), 91 – Anthony Schwartz (WR), 110 – James Hudson (OT), 132 – Tommy Togiai (DT), 153 – Tony Fields II (LB), 169 – Richard LeCounte III (S), 211 – Demetric Felton (RB / WR).
What if power is really changing in this division? After a good end to the season which saw the Browns not only qualify for the playoffs, but also win their first postseason victory since 1994 (to the detriment of division rivals), Cleveland is in the process of establishing itself as one of the driving forces of this AFC North. Completed the reconstruction, the leaders are now looking for players who will be able to be operational quickly. In any case, this is the case with Greg Newsome II. The cornerback should be the starter opposite Denzel Ward from the start of the season.
And what about Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah? Provided that doubts are raised regarding a potential heart problem, the selection of this player in 52nd position is a real bargain. His versatility and covering skills will help a struggling Cleveland franchise in the airline business last year. But the Browns’ bargains aren’t just in the first and second rounds.
Anthony Schwartz and Demetric Felton will come to diversify an attack already well supplied by Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb and other Jarvis Landry. They will bring, each in their field of the very specific characteristics, the speed for Schwartz and the versatility for Felton, which will allow Kevin Stefanski to make his attack even more unpredictable. Finally, James Hudson, Tommy Togiai, Tony Fields and Richard LeCounte III all bring depth to positions that were lacking last year.
Cincinnati Bengals: encouragement
Picks: 5 – Ja’Marr Chase (WR), 46 – Jackson Carman (OT), 69 – Joseph Ossai (DE), 111 – Cameron Sample (DE), 122 – Tyler Shelvin (DT), 139 – D’Ante Smith (OT), 149 – Evan McPherson (K), 190 – Trey Hill (C), 202 – Chris Evans (RB) and 235 – Wyatt Hubert (DE).
In Cincinnati, the goal was simple as we approached this draft: help Joe Burrow at all costs. The quarterback selected with the first choice last year was to see support arriving with this 2021 vintage. And it’s done. From the fifth pick, we saw the Bengals think about their pitcher. Executives have selected wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow and Chase will be able to once again form the duo that were so successful at LSU in 2019. The ball catcher is set to explode in the NFL and the Bengals have found a talented player with immense potential.
A receiver is good, you still have to be able to protect your quarterback. Here begins phase two of the Marshall Plan to aid Burrow. Rebuild the offensive line. This is also where doubts about the Bengals draft start. Cincinnati chose Jackson Carman in 46th position, D’Ante Smith in 139th and Trey Hill in 190th. None of these three has so far the appearance of a potential holder. The first seems below players who were still available at that time, Samuel Cosmi for example, the second is a long-term project while the last will have for the moment to be satisfied with the crumbs at the post of center. It’s not easy to improve a line in great difficulty last year with that.
On the other side of the ball, however, the line additions impressed much more. The selection of Joseph Ossai in the third round appears almost like a steal as the Texas player seemed to attract envy. The arrival of players like Cameron Sample and Tyler Shelvin also bodes well for the Bengals. They will be able to progress alongside Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard or even DJ Reader and form with them a line that should be much better than in 2020.
Finally, it should be noted that Cincinnati is the first franchise to have called a kicker during this draft. It was in 149th position with the selection of Evan McPherson.