AFC North NFL Draft Grades: Browns Look To Win Now, Ravens Draft Smart

Johnny ManzielThe AFC North could have competition from the Cleveland Browns after the 2014 NFL draft.

The Browns obviously look to compete soon based on how they drafted last weekend. They selected six players in the first four rounds, but forgot to fill one very important need.

The Ravens and Steelers continued to draft well, while the Bengals could have a quarterback controversy in the future if Andy Dalton continues to show inconsistent play in the playoffs.

This week, NESN.com will grade the selections made in each division, so let’s check out the AFC North.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Round 1, No. 17 overall: C.J. Mosley, linebacker, Alabama
Round 2, No. 48 overall: Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, Florida State
Round 3, No. 79 overall: Terrence Brooks, safety, Florida State
Round 3, No. 99 overall: Crockett Gillmore, tight end, Colorado State
Round 4, No. 134 overall: Brent Urban, defensive end, Virginia
Round 4, No. 138 overall: Lorenzo Taliaferro, running back, Coastal Carolina
Round 5, No. 175 overall: John Urschel, guard, Penn State
Round 6, No. 194 overall: Keith Wenning, quarterback, Ball State
Round 7, No. 218 overall: Michael Campananaro, wide receiver, Wake Forest

The Ravens had a great draft from top to bottom, taking the best available players while also filling needs. Mosley likely won’t be as good as Ray Lewis, but he fills a similar role. Jernigan was projected as a first-rounder at one point and fell due to inconsistent play and a failed drug test at the combine.

Brooks, Gillmore, Urban and Campananaro were nice values, as well.

Grade: A

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Round 1, No. 24 overall: Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State
Round 2, No. 55 overall: Jeremy Hill, running back, LSU
Round 3, No. 88 overall: Will Clarke, defensive end, West Virginia
Round 4, No. 111 overall: Russell Bodine, center, North Carolina
Round 5, No. 164 overall: A.J. McCarron, quarterback, Alabama
Round 6, No. 212 overall: Marquis Flowers, linebacker, Arizona
Round 7, No. 239 overall: James Wright, wide receiver, LSU
Round 7, No. 252 overall: Lavelle Westbrooks, cornerback, Georgia Southern

The Bengals’ draft looks good on paper, though fans of the team were not pleased with taking Hill, who’s a character risk, over Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, who also was available at No. 55.

With some uncertainty surrounding quarterback Andy Dalton because of a lack of clutch play in the playoffs, drafting McCarron in the fifth round made a ton of sense.

Grade: B

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Round 1, No. 8 overall: Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State
Round 1, No. 22 overall: Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M
Round 2, No. 35 overall: Joel Bitonio, offensive tackle, Nevada
Round 3, No. 71 overall: Christian Kirksey, linebacker, Iowa
Round 3, No. 94 overall: Terrance West, running back, Towson
Round 4, No. 127 overall: Pierre Desir, cornerback, Lindenwood

It’s safe to say the Browns’ draft is top-heavy, which falls in line with selections that suggest that the Browns would like to win now.

Unfortunately, in order to win now, the Browns probably need some wide receivers, and if reports are true that Josh Gordon will be suspended for an entire season, then Cleveland is running low on wideouts and they didn’t draft a single one.

Every selection that the Browns made is a great player, but taking a wide receiver would have pushed this class over the top.

Grade: B+

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Round 1, No. 15 overall: Ryan Shazier, linebacker, Ohio State
Round 2, No. 46 overall: Stephon Tuitt, defensive end, Notre Dame
Round 3, No. 97 overall: Dri Archer, running back, Kent State
Round 4, No. 118 overall: Martavis Bryant, wide receiver, Clemson
Round 5, No. 157 overall: Shaquille Richardson, cornerback, Arizona
Round 5, No. 173 overall: Wesley Johnson, offensive tackle, Vanderbilt
Round 6, No. 192 overall: Jordan Zumwalt, linebacker, UCLA
Round 6, No. 215 overall: Dan McCullers, defensive tackle, Tennessee
Round 7, No. 230 overall: Rob Blanchflower, tight end, Massachusetts

The Steelers always draft well, and 2014 was no exception. Shazier and Tuitt should be immediate game-changers on defense, and Archer and Bryant add even more juice to an already speedy offense.

Zumwalt is the kind of linebacker that needs to be turned loose on defense, and if Blanchflower can get healthy, he could be a major steal in Round 7.

Grade: A

Check out our other draft grades: AFC East|NFC East

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