NFL Ravens 

NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

The division with maybe two of the most consistently good teams, and until a few years ago, two of the consistently worst teams, the North is always interesting. Usually having two or more teams in the playoffs, these teams are usually picking near the end of the 1st round, making their picks almost luxury selections. The same happened this year, as all but the Browns made the playoffs. Let’s see how they graded out:

 

Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 in 2015, 26th Overall

Round 1 Pick 26                 Breshad Perriman            WR         Central Florida

I was listening to a Draft podcast this past week, and when discussing Perriman it was mentioned, “The players that no one likes are always good in Baltimore.” I immediately thought of this pick in the same light. Perriman I was suspicious on throughout the process because I believed that he was being over-valued for his speed at his Pro Day. However, in Baltimore, they’ve got Steve Smith to beat the rookies into shape, and his role will be fairly limited to feature his strengths, so I really liked this fit for Perriman. He’ll essentially replace Torrey Smith. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 55                 Maxx Williams                   TE           Minnesota

A typical Ozzie Newsome pick. Williams was widely regarded as the top Tight End in this class, and just as division rival Pittsburgh was about to pick at 56, Ozzie trades up right in front of the Steelers to get the guy they wanted at a ridiculous value. Williams could have gone at the end of the 1st round and no one would have blinked, so getting him in the late 2nd is a great value, especially for a team who’s top Tight End has dislocated his hip twice in two years. Grade: A

Round 3 Pick 90                 Carl Davis                             DL           Iowa

I’m probably going to say this again a few times, but another Ozzie pick. Carl Davis is a guy who was a splash player at Iowa, but really displayed his talent at the Senior Bowl. He was thought of as a fringe 1st round pick, so getting him near the end of the 3rd is crazy value. These are the players who get motivated and develop a chip on their shoulder because they were picked later than they were supposed to, and the Ravens reap the benefits. Davis will be a welcome addition to the Defensive Line rotation as a rookie. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 122              Za’Darius Smith                 LB           Kentucky

The Ravens lost their Swiss Army knife type player in Pernell McPhee, so they add one in the draft. Smith was a former basketball player at Kentucky, and actually often stood out more on tape than his higher drafted teammate Bud Dupree. Smith is around the 6’4″ 275 pound range, but is a good enough athlete to play standing up. Don’t be surprised to see him rush from the outside with his hand in the ground, as well as standing up. He can also play inside, probably on Nickel downs. He’ll have plenty of opportunity. This is a pretty good value. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 125              Javorius Allen                    RB           USC

Buck Allen was a very productive Runningback at USC, but was a victim of the classes overall depth. Allen is a bit of a build up runner, but should do well in the Ravens zone scheme. He’ll be a nice compliment to Justin Forsett until the Ravens find another option at the position. This was a nice value here. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 136              Tray Walker                        CB           Texas Southern

These are the type of picks that have worked out really well for the Ravens in the past. Tray Walker is 6’2″ and 180 pounds, in the mold of the in vogue Corner. He’s a small school kid, but has the frame and the athleticism to be a solid contributor. He’ll need a year to get stronger and adjust to the NFL game, but down the line he could be a valuable player. Grade: C+

Round 5 Pick 171              Nick Boyle                           TE           Delaware

Another Tight End for a team that is unsure of the health of their starter Dennis Pitta and lost Owen Daniels to Free Agency. Boyle is a big, in-line blocker who can catch the ball pretty well. He doesn’t offer much after the catch, but that’s not what they’re drafting him to do. Nice value, and they grab a local kid. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 176              Robert Myers                    OG         Tennessee State

Myers is a developmental interior Lineman who flashed some big time ability at FCS Tennessee State. He won’t be asked to contribute immediately, but could be ready in a couple seasons. He’ll provide some nice depth up front.And he’s got huge quads, just Google a picture of him from the Combine. Grade: C+

Round 6 Pick 204              Darren Waller                    WR         Georgia Tech

This is another typical Ozzie Newsome pick. Darren Waller is all upside, at 6’6″ and 238 pounds. He runs in the mid 4.4s, and is just an impressive athlete overall. He doesn’t have a huge sample size, coming from Georgia Tech’s option offense, but this is a pretty low risk pick. If he hits, man the Ravens have a weapon. But if he doesn’t, then they only used a 6th round pick on him. Nice selection to cap off the Ravens draft. Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A-. The Ravens had one of the best drafts in the whole league this year, as they got as much talent and value at their picks as anyone did. They didn’t have any remarkable needs, so they were able to stick to their best player available strategy and it worked out well.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: 10-5-1 in 2015, 21st Overall

Round 1 Pick 21                 Cedric Ogbuehi                 OT          Texas A&M

This was an interesting pick to me, but it shows where the Bengals want to go with their Offensive Line. Ogbuehi was the top Tackle entering the 2015 season, and could have been the first Tackle taken if it wasn’t for a Torn ACL in their Bowl game. He needs to work on his hand placement, but he has excellent feet, and would excel in a zone blocking scheme. With Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith both coming up on the ends of their contracts, a Tackle here makes sense. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 53                 Jake Fisher                          OT          Oregon

Another Tackle that will be very effective in a zone blocking scheme. I think Fisher can play all 5 positions on the line in a zone offense. He was a really nice value at this spot, as he was rumored to make his way into the 1st round at one point. This might be some writing on the wall for Smith and Whitworth unless they plan on using Fisher elsewhere. I liked this pick more than the first, but both were fine. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 85                 Tyler Kroft                           TE           Rutgers

I liked this pick a lot. I was a big fan of Kroft at Rutgers, as he’s a good athlete who possesses a nice nasty streak as a blocker, especially for a smaller Tight End. He’ll be able to play in-line while the Bengals use Tyler Eifert as their move Tight End. This is a good value at this spot, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kroft start at some point this season. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 99                 Paul Dawson                      LB           Texas Christian

This was probably the right spot for Dawson, who went from potential draft darling to a tumbling prospect due to a horrid Combine performance. Paul Dawson is pretty limited to a first two downs Linebacker, but he’ll be a passable starter in the league, much like his future teammate Rey Maualuga. Grade: B-

Round 4 Pick 120              Josh Shaw                           DB          USC

I liked this pick a lot more than the Dawson pick. Shaw is a versatile Defensive Back who can play both Safety and Cornerback for the Bengals. His size and versatility will make him hard to keep off of the field, and he’s a willing run defender, something not always found in today’s NFL. This is also a really nice value for Shaw at this pick. Grade: A-

Round 4 Pick 135              Marcus Hardison              DL           Arizona State

I really liked this pick too. Hardison will play inside for the Bengals, but could even play Left End in a pinch. He only played Division 1 for two years, but showed some rare athleticism at times for a man over 300 pounds. He won’t start right away, but could be an eventual replacement for Domata Peko. This was a nice value for Hardison. Grade: B+

Round 5 Pick 157              C.J. Uzomah                       TE           Auburn

I thought this was a little early for Uzomah, but the 5th round isn’t a big risk area. He struggles blocking, but he could be a nice H-Back or move Tight End prospect. He’s a big guy at 6’5″ 260, so if he can put it together the Bengals might have another nice piece to move around. Grade: C

Round 6 Pick 197              Derron Smith                     S              Fresno State

This was a really nice pick by Bengals, as Smith could have been a 3rd round pick without a second thought. He could be a potential replacement for Reggie Nelson. He’s a nice athlete and a pretty dependable tackler. This is a very good value for Cincy. Grade: A-

Round 7 Pick 238              Mario Alford                      WR         West Virginia

This is a pick somewhat similar to Baltimore’s final pick. Mario Alford isn’t a super refined Wide Receiver, but he possesses an unteachable trait at this juncture of the draft, so he’s worth a pick. He ran a 4.28 40 yard dash at West Virginia’s Pro Day, so he could develop into a nice deep threat down the road. If he doesn’t then it’s a late 7th rounder, but if he does its a huge value. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B. Cincinnati definitely had a plan headed into the draft, and stuck to it. They added more blocking to aid their run game even further, as well as protect Andy Dalton. He may not be good enough to get them to where they want to go, but you might as well help him as much as you can. They added some nice pieces in the secondary as well. A solid class overall, just not flashy.

 

Cleveland Browns: 7-9 in 2015, 12th and 19th Overall

Round 1 Pick 12                 Danny Shelton                  DL           Washington

Last year with their two 1st round picks, the Browns made sexy picks, getting Justin Gilbert and Johnny Football Forever. Neither of those picks came to fruition during their rookie seasons. This might be a lesson learned for the Browns, taking Danny Shelton, a much safer pick than both of last year’s picks. Shelton is a monster sized man who will play in the middle of Coach Mike Pettine’s defense. He’ll start Day 1 and be a quality starter for Cleveland. I wasn’t crazy over Shelton, but this pick is smart. Grade: B+

Round 1 Pick 19                 Cameron Erving               OL           Florida State

This is another safe, boring for the media but good for the team pick. Cam Erving was a mid-round prospect at Tackle before he moved to Center during the middle of the season. Most of Erving’s weaknesses at Tackle are masked at Center, and he was a bona fide 1st round prospect. Cleveland already has Alex Mack at Center, so Erving will likely play Guard. I don’t know where he plays right away, but no team would mind having Erving on their team. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 51                 Nate Orchard                     LB           Utah

This was probably a little early for the Nation’s second leading sack leader. Orchard is another safe prospect, with a high floor, but a bit of a low ceiling. He’ll play Outside Linebacker in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme, but will probably be a better run stuffer than pass rusher in the NFL. He’s a technician, but his lack of explosive athleticism will keep him from being anything more than a adequate starter. Grade:C+

Round 3 Pick 77                 Duke Johnson                   RB           Miami (FL)

I liked this pick a lot. It’s another “safe” pick, but Johnson was rumored to go in the early 2nd round, so this is a really nice value for Cleveland. The Browns don’t have an excess of talent at Runningback, so don’t be surprised if Duke starts, or at the least is a big part of the rotation. This is a really nice pick. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 115              Ibraheim Campbell          S              Northwestern

Campbell was an underrated prospect throughout this entire process, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up getting into a regular rotation for the Browns. He’s a decent sized kid who’s a gamer. He’ll contribute on Special Teams initially, but he could eventually turn into a starter. Grade: B

Round 4 Pick 123              Vince Mayle                       WR         Washington State

Mayle is a big bodied Wide Receiver who has some nice athleticism for a guy his size. He’s coming from an Air Raid offense, so there could be a bit of a transition, but Mayle presents some nice upside down the line. He won’t be depended on to contribute early, so he can develop. Grade: C+

Round 6 Pick 189              Charles Gaines                  CB           Louisville

Gaines was recruited out of High School in Miami as a Wide Receiver. He’s a smaller framed Corner, so it’ll be interesting to see where they play him. He’s the size of a normal NFL slot Corner, but he rarely played inside at Louisville, so he’ll have to make a transition at the next level. This is the right value here. It’s a future pick. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 195              Malcolm Johnson             TE           Mississippi State

Johnson was a versatile chess piece for Mississippi State the past couple seasons, but in Cleveland he’ll play Fullback and occasionally Tight End. I didn’t think that Johnson would be drafted, but in the 6th round, the Browns obviously have a role in mind for the former Bulldog. Grade: C

Round 6 Pick 198              Randall Telfer                    TE           USC

I liked this Tight End pick a little more. Telfer is more of the conventional Tight End playing in-line. He’s a good blocker who can be an effective receiver at times. He battled leg injuries at USC, but he can be a solid 2nd or 3rd Tight End in the NFL. Grade: C+

Round 7 Pick 219              Hayes Pullard                     LB           USC

I thought that Pullard would be drafted before the 7th, so this is a good value for Cleveland. He was a four year starter for the Trojans, and was the leader of the defense for the past couple of seasons. He’ll likely play Special Teams initially before being an Inside Linebacker in their 3-4. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 241              Ifo Ekpre-Olomu              DB          Oregon

This pick could end up being the steal of the draft. Ifo would have been a 2nd round pick if he hadn’t torn his ACL during the preparation for the Florida State game. He’s a versatile, but undersized defender. His best chance in the NFL will either be a slot Cornerback or even as a Free Safety. He’s been projected potentially to Earl Thomas, which is the absolute best case scenario. Either way, this is a HUGE steal if he works out. Grade: A

Overall Grade: B+. It lacks some of the big flashy names that it could have had, but that’s what this team needed. After making progress to go 7-9, they need to keep being consistent and making good decisions. They added two solid pieces in the trenches, which is huge. You build successful teams from the inside out. They got two potential starting Linebackers and a starting Runningback. If they can go 8-8 this season, they set themselves up for a big season in two years if they can figure Quarterback out.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5 in 2015, 22nd Overall

Round 1 Pick 22                 Bud Dupree                        LB           Kentucky

This pick was one of the best fits in the 1st round. Bud Dupree possesses the ability to be a really good player, but he’s not there yet. What better situation to go then a team known for Defense, and having Joey Porter be your Outside Linebacker coach? Dupree won’t be depended on to start right away, but he doesn’t have forever either. Regardless, I think this was a nice value and the right situation. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 56                 Senquez Golson                CB           Ole Miss

I think that this pick was made out of frustration, personally. It was pretty well known that Pittsburgh was targeting Maxx Williams, and when Baltimore traded up in front of them to get Williams, Pittsburgh was somewhat disorganized and maybe reached for Golson. He’s a good ballhawk and football player, but he’s closer to 5’8″ than 6’0″. Golson is good, don’t get me wrong, but this may have been a bit early. Grade: C+

Round 3 Pick 87                 Sammie Coates                 WR         Auburn

With Pittsburgh’s recent success with big-bodied Wide Receivers, Sammie Coates makes a lot of sense. Martavious Bryant absolutely burst on to the scene last year, and Coates is basically Bryant 2.0. A big target with long speed for Big Ben to throw to. No one can really cover these guys when in the right situations. This is a nice spot for Coates, too. Grade: B

Round 4 Pick 121              Doran Grant                       CB           Ohio State

Grant had a nice season, and played well down the stretch. Pittsburgh has had a hard time keeping their Defensive Backs after their first contract, so double dipping at Corner wasn’t the worst idea. This is a nice value for Grant, who also had a decent Senior Bowl week. Grade: B-

Round 5 Pick 160              Jesse James                       TE           Penn State

James shouldn’t have left school early. That being said, this is a nice situation to go to. Pittsburgh is looking for a successor for Heath Miller eventually, and James possesses the athletic potential and size to do so. At 6’7″ and 260, James is a big person, and he also runs pretty well. He’s just got to become more consistent. He’s a local kid at a small investment. I like this pick quite a lot. Grade: B+

Round 6 Pick 199              Leterrius Walton              DL           Central Michigan

The Steelers defense hasn’t been the same since Casey Hampton left. That being said, don’t think I’m comparing L.T. Walton with Hampton, but the more big, thick bodies the Steelers can run through the middle until they find their next long term Nose Tackle, the better. This is a nice value and a nice selection. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 212              Anthony Chickillo             LB           Miami (FL)

Chickillo underperformed a bit at Miami, but during the Shrine Game practices he actually played pretty well. He’ll be a situational pass rusher early in his career, helping on Special Teams. This is a nice spot for Chickillo, who I know some people in the draft community were actually pretty high on. Grade: B-

Round 7 Pick 239              Gerod Holliman                S              Louisville

This is one of my favorite picks in the entire draft. I really enjoyed watching Louisville’s defense this past season for a few reasons, but watching Gerod Holliman play at times was just special. He has incredible instincts in coverage, and that certainly helped him have his NCAA record tying 14 Interceptions this past season. Then you watch a full game, and you see the flaws. His tackling can range from pretty bad, to disinterested, to really bad. But he picks his spots, and if you can get him to commit to tackle full-time, the Steelers could have gotten a starting Safety in the late 7th round. Grade: A

Overall Grade:B+. Other than the Golson pick, which I still like, the Steelers got real nice value at every selection and could walk away from this draft with two Day 1 starters. The Steelers aren’t the same team we were used to seeing five or six years ago, but they’re still tough, and their ability to adapt makes them that much tougher.

Written by 

Adams-Friendship Green Devil and Carroll University Pioneer for life. Aspiring to be great. @RieseDraft

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