AFC North Draft Outlook

AFC North Draft Outlook

Alyssa Brosious
2 years ago
4 min read

With the draft less than three weeks away, it’s time for teams to really start narrowing down their list of players who will be available for them. Rather than looking at just the Bengals and Browns, here are what all four teams in the AFC North may be looking for when the draft takes center stage in Cleveland.

Bengals Draft Preview

Picks:

  • Round 1: No. 5 overall
  • Round 2: No. 38
  • Round 3: No. 69
  • Round 4: No. 111
  • Round 5: No. 149
  • Round 6: No. 190
  • Round 7: No. 202 (from Dolphins through Texans), No. 235 (from Lions through Seahawks)

Needs:

Offensive line: If you’re looking for specifics on the offensive line, you’re not going to get it. Cincinnati needs help at every position along the line to protect franchise QB Joe Burrow and running back Joe Mixon, who last year was given a long-term extension.

Receiver: Tee Higgins and Auden Tate are currently projected as the outside wide receivers, with Tyler Boyd currently lined up in the slot. With the Bengals likely looking at their choice of a receiver in this strong draft class, they could give Burrow a serious weapon.

Edge rusher: While the Bengals made moves in free agency, including the signing of Trey Hendrickson, they also lost Carl Lawson as well as Geno Atkins in the interior. With Cincinnati finishing dead-last in 2020 in adjusted sack rate, they desperately need talent more talent here.

Prediction:

  • Round 1: Oregon OT Penei Sewell 
  • Round 2: LSU WR Terrace Marshall
  • Round 3: Pittsburgh EDGE Patrick Jones II

Browns Draft Preview

Picks:

  • Round 1: No. 26 overall
  • Round 2: No. 59
  • Round 3: No. 89, No. 91 (from Saints)
  • Round 4: No. 110 (from Eagles), No. 132
  • Round 5: No. 169 (from Rams)
  • Round 6: No. 211
  • Round 7: No. 257 (from Bills)

Needs:

Edge rusher: In a league where getting to the quarterback means so much, the Browns are still searching for an adequate partner to Myles Garrett along the edge. While they are intrigued by the boom-or-bust potential of the new acquisition Takk McKinley, Cleveland could use another pass-rusher to start on day one.

Cornerback: Cleveland added Troy Hill to start in the slot, but questions remain on the outside. The Browns will need some depth behind Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, each of whom has faced some difficulties with health in their young careers.

Wide receiver: It’s true that Odell Beckham Jr. will be back next year, and Jarvis Landry will continue to dominate in the slot. But unless you have a ton of confidence in Rashard Higgins to start, adding a receiver on day two can not only give Higgins some competition now but also potentially replace him in the future.

Prediction:

  • Round 1: Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau
  • Round 2: Georgia CB Eric Stokes
  • Round 3: UNC WR Dyami Brown

Ravens Draft Preview

Picks:

  • Round 1: No. 27 overall
  • Round 2: No. 58
  • Round 3: No. 104
  • Round 4: No. 131
  • Round 5: Nos. 171, 184
  • Round 6: No. 210

Needs:

Edge rusher: All of these teams could use another edge rusher, but none perhaps as desperately as the Ravens. Baltimore lost Yannick Ngakoue, Matt Judon, and Jihad Ward this offseason and doesn’t have enough firepower as of now to replace them. For a team that blitzes more than almost the entire league, adding a pass-rusher will be critical.

Interior lineman: Baltimore did a good job of signing Kevin Zeitler to plug in at guard, but there is still more work to do. As it stands, their other starting guard is the 2018 sixth-rounder Bradley Bozeman, while 2019 undrafted free agent Patrick Mekari replaces the departed center, Matt Skura.

Wide receiver: The Ravens were considered players for every big free-agent receiver on the market but instead settled for Sammy Watkins. While Watkins, Marquise Brown, and second-year man Devin Duvernay is a nice start, Lamar Jackson still needs more to make their offense more well-rounded.

Prediction:

  • Round 1: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman
  • Round 2: Miami EDGE Jaelan Phillips
  • Round 3: Ohio State OL Josh Myers

Steelers Draft Preview

Picks:

  • Round 1: No. 24 overall
  • Round 2: No. 55
  • Round 3: No. 87
  • Round 4: No. 128, No. 140
  • Round 6: No. 216 (from Buccaneers)
  • Round 7: No. 245 (from Dolphins), No. 254 (from Ravens)

Needs:

Cornerback: Even though safety is more than covered with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, the secondary has a lot of question marks. Following the departures of Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson, Pittsburgh has the aging Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton penciled in as starters. They need to target this early.

Running back: With James Conner still a free agent and unlikely to return, Pittsburgh has only Benny Snell as a stable option at running back. Another running back, even if it’s for a change of pace, will help a Steeler offense that failed to get much going on the ground.

Center: The Steelers have a 300-something pound hole to fill in the center of their offensive line following Maurice Pouncey’s retirement. Not only will drafting his replacement help to protect Ben Roethlisberger, but it will also improve the running game.

Prediction:

  • Round 1: Northwestern CB Greg Newsome
  • Round 2: Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey
  • Round 3: Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard

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