Sunday, April 29, 2012

Final Draft Grades: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens Till Ray Lewis and Ed Reed retire, I'll always say that any young defensive player with upside who is lucky enough to get drafted to play alongside them, is going to really benefit. Enter Alabama edge rusher Courtney Upshaw. Fell out of the first round and then Baltimore moves up to the 35th pick overall to take him, brilliant move from Ozzie Newsome. This pick on the second day of the draft had me thinking the plan to move out of the first round went off to perfection, Baltimore thought they could get him a little later and the move back allowed them to do so and grab more selections in the process. Furthermore, the Ravens were able to pick up a compliment back to Ray Rice in drafting Temple's Bernard Pierce in the third round. Doubling his production from 2010 to 2011 before a late season injury, Pierce got some teams paying close attention. Final Grade: B

Pittsburgh Steelers Bar-none the smartest back-to-back picks I've seen in a while. First round, the Steelers hit the jack pot and sweep up the best guard in the draft, Stanford's David DeCastro. Watching 11 of the 15 picks leading up to their twenty-fourth overall selection go to the defensive side of the ball, Pittsburgh doesn't think twice before they add DeCastro. Second round, pick #56 comes and the Steelers don't hesitate to take another sliding offensive lineman in Ohio State tackle Mike Adams. The only thing holding back Mike Adams was himself, the lack of effort, the failed drug tests (recreational not performance enhancing), and the multiple suspensions at the collegiate level. It all kept NFL teams away, but not a veteran team like Pittsburgh, not with a locker room full of guys who have made the wrong decisions and came out on the other end. If Adams and DeCastro can anchor this line going forward, it'll go a very long way to Pittsburgh being able to keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger healthy. Also, Washington's defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu and Florida running back Chris Rainey add depth at two positions the Steelers needed to do so. All-in-all they've had a great three days of the 2012 NFL Draft. Final Grade: A

Cincinnati Bengals We're big fans of what the Bengals did last year, and that was even before it worked out and the duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green turned in awesome rookie years. This year however, I've got some questions. Why at #17 did the Bengals select Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick when guard David DeCastro was still available, at a position they seriously needed help at? Yes, they did go ahead and draft Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin at the same position ten picks later, but he's not DeCastro. Overall it was a mixed bag for Cincy, I really like adding the Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu to come in and play opposite A.J. Green but then didn't like drafting both Devon Still from Penn State and Brandon Thompson from Clemson at the same defensive tackle position when running back was a need they missed out on till much later. Had the Bengals grabbed Lamar Miller the Miami running back rather than Brandon Thompson at pick #93 in the 3rd round I would have given them a much better grade than I'm about to. The Bengals draft for me would have looked like DeCastro, Sanu, Still, Lamar Miller, and I'd even have stayed with their 6th round pick of Ohio State running back Boom Herron, forgive me if I'm not a fan of free-agent running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Final Grade: B-

Cleveland Browns Holmgren missed. While four of their first five picks were meant to put bolster the 29th ranked offense from a season ago, I just think they missed. President of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Holmgren, evaluated his current quarterback Colt McCoy while never putting any pieces around him to work with, that I don't get. RB Trent Richardson was a given, they needed that impact player and got him. Rumours were swirling that Holmgren was ready to take the Baylor receiver Kendall Wright and when the Titans took him at #20, the Browns just changed gears and drafted Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. Was this Plan B? Receivers Stephen Hill, Alshon Jeffery, and Rueben Randle were all still available, he knows that right? What would have been wrong with adding Jonathan Martin or Cordy Glenn with their second first round pick and then adding one of those three receivers with their early second round pick? Why make the obvious choice if you could just select a near-thirty year old quarterback to? Oh, and you still don't have anyone for him to throw the ball to. Final Grade: D-

. . . AFC South up next!

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