Draft Grades  

 

Bold move helps Browns replenish with much-needed talent


NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks is handing out grades for each team following the 2011 NFL Draft. Check back daily as he breaks down each team, division by division.

Ravens' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
27
CB
Colorado
2
58
WR
Maryland
3
85
OT
Central Florida
4
123
WR
Indiana
5
164
DB
Texas
5
165
DL
Mississippi State
6
180
QB
Virginia Tech
7
225
RB
Georgia Tech
» Ravens' pick-by-pick analysis

Baltimore Ravens: B

Ozzie Newsome and Co. have a long, storied tradition of finding quality players throughout the draft, and this year was no exception. The Ravens addressed their biggest defensive need with the selection of Jimmy Smith in the first round. Although their trade snafu with the Chicago Bears put the acquisition in jeopardy, the team still landed the top-rated player on the board. The selections of Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss were designed to help Joe Flacco in the passing game. Smith, in particular, gives the team the deep threat that has been sorely missing in the lineup. Pernell McPhee doesn't provide an immediate answer to the Ravens' pass-rushing woes opposite Terrell Suggs, but he is another versatile defender to throw into their frontline rotation.

Key picks:

Round 1 (27th overall): Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Smith is regarded as possibly the best cover corner in the draft with skills reminiscent of former Pro Bowl selection Chris McAllister. Smith could become an instant star in the Ravens' aggressive defense.

Round 2 (58th overall): Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Smith's speed will certainly free up Anquan Boldin on underneath routes, while also allowing Flacco to push the ball down the field. Smith's explosive return skills could also create some big-play opportunities in the kicking game.

Round 3 (85th overall): Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida
The addition of Reid to the Ravens' offensive line is designed to fortify the depth and talent of their offensive tackle spot. He is ideally suited to play right tackle but could also be an option on the left side.

Bengals' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
4
WR
Georgia
2
35
QB
TCU
3
66
DL
Nevada
4
101
OL
Georgia
5
134
FS
West Virginia
6
167
WR
Stanford
7
207
CB
Southern Illinois
7
246
RB
Baylor
» Bengals' pick-by-pick analysis

Cincinnati Bengals: B-

Mike Brown is often criticized for not making daring moves on draft day, but his willingness to gamble that the right players would be available at their selections paid off this year. The Bengals ushered in a new passing combination with the additions of A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Although there are some questions about whether Blaine Gabbert would've been a better fit as a franchise quarterback, the ability to pick up a potential Pro Bowl receiver and solid quarterback prospect might make the decision worthwhile in the end. Dontay Moch adds speed to the linebacker corps, but he will need time to transition into a 4-3 base defense after spending his entire collegiate career with his hand in the ground. Clint Boling provides depth to an offensive line that is certain to undergo some changes when the lockout is lifted.

Key picks:

Round 1 (fourth overall): A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Green is a polished receiver capable of thriving as the No.1 option in the passing game. He could team with Chad Ochocinco to create a formidable receiving tandem or allow the Bengals to part ways with their enigmatic pass catcher as part of an offensive makeover.

Round 2 (35th overall): Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Dalton gives them a proven winner with the leadership skill and intangibles to be an effective starter. While his arm strength rates slightly above average, he has the anticipation and awareness to be an efficient passer in their new West Coast scheme.

Round 3 (66th overall): Dontay Moch, DL, Nevada
Although he has limited experience playing from an upright position, Moch is a dynamic pass rusher with the skills to be effective as a situational rusher. He gives them a versatile option to incorporate in their exotic schemes on passing downs.

Browns' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
21
DT
Baylor
2
37
DL
Pittsburgh
2
59
WR
North Carolina
4
102
TE
USC
4
124
RB
Stanford
5
137
DB
Tenn.-Chattanooga
5
150
OL
Pittsburgh
7
248
DB
Nebraska
» Browns' pick-by-pick analysis

Cleveland Browns: B

Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert passed on the opportunity to land a blue-chipper by trading down in the first round. However, the decision allowed them to replenish a roster that is devoid of talent on both sides of the ball. Phil Taylor becomes an anchor along the interior as a one- or three-technique in their new 4-3. Jabaal Sheard joins him as the designated pass rusher on that unit, but the team bypassed on a top-15 talent -- Da'Quan Bowers -- to select Sheard in the second round. Greg Little gives Colt McCoy an Anquan Boldin-like receiving threat in the passing game. The Browns entered the draft with an inferior roster that failed to measure up to their division rivals, but a bold draft day move has helped the team close the gap on paper.

Key picks:

Round 1 (21st overall): Phil Taylor, DE, Baylor
Taylor gives new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron an anchor on the interior of the line. He is ideally suited to man the one-technique spot but could play over the top of the guard as the shaded defensive tackle. His run-stopping skills will certainly help the Browns in a division that features several physical offenses.

Round 2 (37th overall): Jabaal Sheard, DL, Pittsburgh
Sheard is an energetic rusher off the edge with the speed and quickness to provide consistent pressure. He should be an immediate contributor as a right defensive end in their scheme.

Round 2 (59th overall): Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
Though Little missed his final season due to an NCAA suspension, he has shown signs of being an impact playmaker in the past, and his intriguing skill set could make him a star at the next level.

Steelers' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
31
DT
Ohio State
2
63
OL
Florida
3
95
DB
Texas
4
128
DB
The Citadel
5
162
DL
Fresno State
6
196
OL
Nebraska
7
232
RB
Texas Tech
» Steelers' pick-by-pick analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers: C+

The Steelers rarely win the sizzle contest on draft day, but the proof is in the pudding when you look at their long stay at the top of the AFC and the steady development of their personnel. Cameron Heyward is the kind of blue-collar player that typically thrives in the Steelers' defensive system. He adds youth and athleticism to a frontline that has gotten long in the tooth at the defensive end positions. Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen are long, rangy corners with the requisite toughness and tackling ability that Dick LeBeau covets. Marcus Gilbert has the talent to be an immediate starter on offensive line, but he must get with the program quickly to fulfill his potential.

Key picks:

Round 1 (31st overall): Cam Heyward, DT, Ohio State
Heyward gives them another athletic five-technique to throw into the rotation, and his overall skill set is a perfect fit in their "30" scheme. This pick is another illustration of the Steelers stockpiling young players to groom for huge roles down the road.

Round 2 (63rd overall): Marcus Gilbert, OL, Florida
Gilbert is a big, physical blocker on the edge with the size, toughness and skill to protect Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket. Gilbert gives them another young player to groom for a big role along the offensive line.

Round 3 (95th overall): Curtis Brown, DB, Texas
Brown possesses a nice combination of size, speed and athleticism, and is a nice fit in the team's zone-based scheme. He should compete for time as a nickel or dime corner during his first season.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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