Joe Flacco watched the NFL Draft last night cringing, as he saw two fellow AFC North teams draft two very elite pass rushers. The Steelers and Browns both got the players they wanted, and can both provide much-needed help on the edge for their new teams.
It was a good first round for each AFC North team, but one pick puzzled many. Let’s take a look at how the Ravens’ fellow division-partners fared in round one.
Cleveland Browns– Cleveland was a team that many thought had the opportunity to trade down, and still select the player they wanted. They stayed put however, and drafted one of the better defensive players in this years’ class, Barkevious Mingo, the edge rusher from LSU.
Mingo is very deserving of a first round pick, and this is the perfect fit for both sides. He will add speed to a Cleveland defense that runs a 3-4. The 6’4” underclassman ran a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, an incredible number for a player of Mingo’s size. Joe Flacco just might be worried about this pick, as Mingo will start right away and make a major impact. His athletic, fresh legs will be a major addition for a team that is looking to dig their way out of last place in the North.
The only downside with this pick is, well, the pick itself. Mingo is a great addition, but the glaring need in the secondary can’t be overlooked. I expect Cleveland to address this need in the second round, but it’s a shame they missed on a few elite players.
Overall Grade: B+
Pittsburgh Steelers– Certainly, the Steelers would have loved to have a player like Mingo fall to them, but they picked up Jarvis Jones, the outside linebacker from Georgia.
With the loss of James Harrison, the steel curtain needs help on their ailing defense. Jones will fill the need with his playmaking ability, but he was never a player that I was high on coming into the draft. I think Jones could end up being a little bit of a disappointment, that’s why I was happy to see the Saints pass on him at #15.
He is a playmaker and will be a solid replacement for Harrison, but I need to see that he can transfer over to play the NFL game before he proves to me that he is ready. His play in college was great, but he is a player that could have trouble in the NFL.
Overall Grade: B
Cincinnati Bengals- This is absolutely the second-most confusing pick of the first round. (we’ll get to the worst in a minute) The Bengals grabbed Tyler Eifert, the Tight End from Notre Dame with their first round pick.
I like Eifert and I think he will be the best tight end in this class, but they already have a solid guy in Jermaine Gresham. There were many other needs here, and I am puzzled as to why they would use their first pick on a player that didn’t fill a need. Matt Elam, the Ravens’ pick, was on the board and that seemed to be the logical pick.
The Bengals always draft well early in the NFL Draft, but this pick doesn’t make much sense.
Overall Grade: C-
I can’t finish this without giving an honorable mention to the Dallas Cowboys. They had the option to draft basically anyone they wanted, but traded back. At that point, they were sitting at #31 and could have drafted Matt Elam, a need and perfect fit. Not Jerry Jones, however.
America’s team decided on Travis Frederick, a Center from Wisconsin. I personally had a 4th round grade on Frederick, so I have to ask… did they hand in the wrong card?
I don’t know what happened there, but here’s to you, Jerry Jones!