AFC North draft grades: Ravens get speedy; Steelers nail it early

Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2019 NFL Draft. Below is Dan's review of the AFC North.

NOTABLE SELECTIONS

BEST PICK: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Pittsburgh Steelers, Round 1, No. 10 overall

They had to part with some valuable picks to get Bush, but GM Kevin Colbert absolutely made the right call to be aggressive and save himself from the nightmares that would have ensued at least twice annually had he stood pat at No. 20 and potentially allowed the former Wolverine go to the division-rival Bengals -- another LB-needy team -- with the 11th pick. Pittsburgh has had a huge void at the position ever since Ryan Shazier suffered his spinal injury in a December 2017 game against Cincy. Unless the Steelers moved up for either Devin White (who went fifth overall to the Bucs) or Bush, they were probably not going to find an adequate replacement in this year's draft. So, Colbert made the deal with the Broncos, giving up a 2019 second-rounder and a 2020 third-rounder. Bush might not have ideal size, but, as NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting report, "his play strength and ability to run and cover are extremely valuable in today's game and should not be diminished due to a tape measurement." You know Colbert did not make this decision lightly. The last defensive player he traded up to get in Round 1 was Troy Polamalu in 2003. Bush has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone, too.

MOST SURPRISING PICK: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Cleveland Browns, Round 2, No. 46 overall

The Browns didn't have a first-round pick (OBJ trade), yet they still found arguably a mid-first-round value in the middle of Round 2. Yes, plenty of folks had Williams going to teams like the Redskins at 15 or Steelers at 20 in their mocks leading up to the draft, and he ranked 33rd on former scout/NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's list of the top 100 prospects. Maybe the knock against him -- he's not the most aggressive guy vs. the run -- was enough to scare some teams off, but it was still a surprise to see him sitting there at No. 46. John Dorsey traded up a few spots (parting with a fifth-rounder) to get Greedy, but it was still a good value to land a tall, speedy running mate for last year's No. 4 overall pick, Denzel Ward, at corner.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State
Cincinnati Bengals, Round 4, No. 125 overall

If the Bengals can unlock Wren's potential, look out. Measuring 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, he posted some of the best times among DTs at the NFL Scouting Combine in the 3-cone drill (7.65 seconds) and short shuttle (4.53). Yeah, this is a freakish athlete. Now, his production didn't match his traits at ASU and consistency wasn't his strength, which helps explain why he was still available with the 23rd pick in Round 4. It's up to defensive line coach Nick Eason, who spent 10 seasons in the league as a D-lineman, to work on Wren's footwork and read-and-react skills. The former Sun Devil has the ability to push the pocket and become a nice complement inside for Geno Atkins. I won't be surprised at all if he becomes one of the better players at his position in time.

TEAM GRADES

NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.

Grade
1 - A-
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals

» Round 1: (No. 11 overall) Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama.

» Round 2: (52) Drew Sample, TE, Washington.

» Round 3: (72) Germaine Pratt, LB, N.C. State.

» Round 4: (104) Ryan Finley, QB, N.C. State; (125) Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State; (136) Michael Jordan, OG, Ohio State.

» Round 6: (182) Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M; (210) Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn; (211) Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma.

» Round 7: (223) Jordan Brown, CB, South Dakota State.

Watching the Steelers trade in front of them to land Devin Bush -- who would have been a good fit at a position of need -- wasn't an ideal start, but these Bengals were resilient. They rebounded and put together a really nice haul, starting with Williams. The decision to re-sign Bobby Hart seems a lot less offensive now that he can move into a backup role and Williams can start at right tackle. Williams might be even better at guard than he is at tackle, but they got a plug-and-play guy who'll be a starter on the O-line for the next decade. That's solid work. Tyler Eifert is back on another one-year deal, but you can't count on him to stay healthy, so the Sample pick makes sense, although it was probably a little early to take him. He's likely to be much more effective as a blocker than receiver off the bat, but don't sleep on his potential as a pass catcher. They finally turned their attention to the biggest area of need with the selection of Pratt, a former safety who'll bring some thump to a division where you can never have enough of it at LB. It's hard not to like what they did to start Day 3, adding Finley, Wren and Jordan in Round 4. If all three guys are starting within a couple years, I won't be surprised, although Finley's odds are a little longer than the other two (he's a solid backup at worst, which would still make him a fine value). Williams and Anderson (if he can stay healthy) provide depth at a position where Cincinnati needed it following the release of Mark Walton.

Grade
2 - B+
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens

» Round 1: (No. 25 overall) Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma.

» Round 3: (85) Jaylon Ferguson, OLB, Louisiana Tech; (93) Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame.

» Round 4: (113) Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State; (123) Ben Powers, OG, Oklahoma; (127) Iman Marshall, CB, USC.

» Round 5: (160) Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M.

» Round 6: (197) Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State.

Highly respectable start for Eric DeCosta in his first draft as GM in Baltimore, home to a team that got a lot faster on draft weekend. The Ravens played things just right in the first round, trading down a few spots to pick up some extra draft capital and still landing Hollywood Brown, who has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson due to his speed and size (weighs just 166 pounds). He's the weapon this team needed to find to help second-year QB Lamar Jackson. They didn't stop there when it came to stocking up for their young signal-caller. Yeah, the track-team building continued. Zierlein's comp for Hill is Phillip Lindsay. If the explosive RB lives up to that billing, he'll be a perfect sidekick for Mark Ingram in the backfield. Boykin isn't twitchy like Hollywood or Hill, but he provides a nice balance as a pass catcher with size and length. Powers fits the Ravens' mold as a rugged guard with nasty to his game. The team began to rebuild after an offseason of change on defense with the wildly productive Ferguson (FBS all-time leader in sacks with 45) seeing his slide come to an end in Round 3. He was once considered a potential first-rounder, but a disappointing offseason sullied his stock. Ferguson will be an interesting developmental pass rusher to watch. There's a debate about whether Marshall is a better fit for corner or safety, but he was worth a shot in Round 4 as a guy who can contribute on special teams and possibly earn playing time in the secondary down the road. The lingering question is who will replace C.J. Mosley at ILB -- the Ravens didn't draft one, which was a bit surprising.

Grade
3 - B
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns

» Round 2: (No. 46 overall) Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.

» Round 3: (80) Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU.

» Round 4: (119) Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami.

» Round 5: (155) Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama; (170) Austin Seibert, K, Oklahoma.

» Round 6: (189) Drew Forbes, OG, Southeast Missouri.

» Round 7: (221) Donnie Lewis, CB, Tulane.

This grade would be a C if it were based solely on the picks they made, but we're taking the OBJ trade into account, which bumps it up. He was well worth the price of their first- and third-rounder (and Jabrill Peppers) this year. As for the picks, Williams was easily the best one Cleveland made. He was a first-round value in Round 2, so John Dorsey traded up a few spots to get the long, speedy CB, despite the concerns about whether he'll be competitive enough in run support. If you would have told Browns fans back in January that we're going to take your top three picks and turn them into OBJ and Greedy Williams, they would be ecstatic, to say the least. Aside from Greedy, though, we're not sure there's a starter in this bunch for Cleveland. It was a surprise to see Takitaki come off the board so early given his ups and downs in college and tweener traits, but he could become a core special-teamer and backup. We're a little higher on the Redwine pick, which gave them a versatile guy who can also become a key cog on special teams. Wilson saw his stock plummet this offseason, but he could turn out to be a steal if he puts it all together. Seibert was the draft's top kicker and could prove worthy of the pick. There's just not a lot here to have major confidence in, but it bears repeating -- OBJ!

» Round 2: (No. 46 overall) Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.

 **» Round 3:** (80) 
 [Sione Takitaki](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/sione-takitaki?id=32195441-4b11-1241-9b68-3c89f1b8a042), LB, BYU. 
 **» Round 4:** (119) 
 [Sheldrick Redwine](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/sheldrick-redwine?id=32195245-4479-0651-4e15-c041fee677e0), S, Miami. 
 **» Round 5:** (155) 
 [Mack Wilson](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/mack-wilson?id=32195749-4c74-7169-f251-e69c40d45765), LB, Alabama; (170) 
 [Austin Seibert](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/austin-seibert?id=32195345-4927-5063-f746-ec3c4535f51d), K, Oklahoma. 
 **» Round 6:** (189) 
 [Drew Forbes](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/drew-forbes?id=3219464f-5201-3556-fcce-3e13490e2091), OG, Southeast Missouri. 
 **» Round 7:** (221) 
 [Donnie Lewis](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/donnie-lewis?id=32194c45-5721-9334-9824-0175a781ef3f), CB, Tulane. 

This grade would be a C if it were based solely on the picks they made, but we're taking the OBJ trade into account, which bumps it up. He was well worth the price of their first- and third-rounder (and Jabrill Peppers) this year. As for the picks, Williams was easily the best one Cleveland made. He was a first-round value in Round 2, so John Dorsey traded up a few spots to get the long, speedy CB, despite the concerns about whether he'll be competitive enough in run support. If you would have told Browns fans back in January that we're going to take your top three picks and turn them into OBJ and Greedy Williams, they would be ecstatic, to say the least. Aside from Greedy, though, we're not sure there's a starter in this bunch for Cleveland. It was a surprise to see Takitaki come off the board so early given his ups and downs in college and tweener traits, but he could become a core special-teamer and backup. We're a little higher on the Redwine pick, which gave them a versatile guy who can also become a key cog on special teams. Wilson saw his stock plummet this offseason, but he could turn out to be a steal if he puts it all together. Seibert was the draft's top kicker and could prove worthy of the pick. There's just not a lot here to have major confidence in, but it bears repeating -- OBJ!

Grade
4 - B-
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers

» Round 1: (No. 10 overall) Devin Bush, LB, Michigan.

» Round 3: (66) Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo; (83) Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State.

» Round 4: (122) Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky.

» Round 5: (141) Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan.

» Round 6: (175) Sutton Smith, OLB, Northern Illinois; (192) Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama; (207) Ulysees Gilbert, LB, Akron.

» Round 7: (219) Derwin Gray, OT, Maryland.

This draft started with a bang for Pittsburgh and kind of petered out after that, with some interesting swings along the way. I like the idea of identifying a massive need, finding a fit and then doing whatever it takes to land your target. That's exactly what Kevin Colbert did by trading up 10 spots for Bush. There was such a dramatic dropoff at the position after Devin White (the fifth overall pick) and Bush that the team felt the Michigan Man was the guy they had to get. Good call. They turned the picks they acquired in the Antonio Brown trade into Johnson and Gentry. I'm not feeling super great right now about the payoff for one of the greatest receivers of our time, but given Colbert's track record, it won't be surprising if he's found another gem or two between the two of them. Zierlein's comp for Johnson is former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders. Gentry's an intriguing player due to his combination of size (6-8) and athleticism, but drops have been an issue for him. Now, there's plenty to like about the Layne and Snell picks. Layne was a great value in Round 3, and Snell is a perfect fit for the Steel City as a power back who can pound the rock between the tackles. The defenders they took flyers on in Round 6 don't have athletic traits that are going to generate a lot of excitement, but they were highly productive college players.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter @TheDan_Parr.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

gamepasswhite_horiz (1)

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.