Grading the 2017 NFL Draft: AFC North

Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange
John Ross poses for photographs with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater in Philadelphia, PA on April 27, 2017. Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI
John Ross poses for photographs with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater in Philadelphia, PA on April 27, 2017. Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI | License Photo

Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu.

It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared over the weekend.


But waiting is no fun. As such, let's take a look at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future via the seven rounds of the 2017 draft.

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AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens' draft will be panned by some hoping for the club to add some skill-position talent, but this is another solid class by Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta. At just 20 years old, first-round pick Marlon Humphrey should continue to improve, as should second-round pick Tyus Bowser, who spent half of his career at Houston playing basketball as well as football. Chris Wormley has surprising juice as a pass rusher given his big frame. If the Ravens can get Tim Williams to play with the same attention to detail as Wormley, he could wind up being one of this year's biggest steals. Williams has excellent snap anticipation and bend off the edge, offering immediate impact ability as a pass rusher. Nico Siragusa is a future starter at guard.

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Grade: B-

Cincinnati Bengals

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The Bengals' draft is boom-or-bust personified with speedy (but injury prone) wideout and returner John Ross in the first round and talented but troubled running back Joe Mixon in the second. The two potentially dynamic weapons will dominate the reviews of Cincinnati's draft (and for good reason), but the Bengals covered their bases with quality linemen throughout the rest of the draft - nabbing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jordan Willis in the third, explosive (but short-armed) bull rusher Carl Lawson in the fourth, as well as one of the more underrated defensive linemen in this draft in Michigan's Ryan Glasgow later in the round. Speaking of underrated, had J.J. Dielman been healthy in 2016, he likely would have been off the board at least a round earlier. Josh Malone is a nice vertical threat to complement A.J. Green and Ross, as well. The durability concerns for Ross (and character red-flags on Mixon) are very real but this is a class that could finally push Cincinnati into legitimate Super Bowl contention with a little luck.


Grade: B

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Cleveland Browns

It is hard to argue that the Browns had one of the better draft hauls this year, though certainly things are easier with a roster relatively barren of talent and the number of selections Cleveland had at its disposal. Myles Garrett is a freakish talent who should prove an immediate difference-maker in Gregg Williams' hyper-aggressive scheme. Unlike some, I like the selection of Jabrill Peppers, as he is a terrific open-field tackler with the agility and speed to make an impact as an occasional toy on offense and in the return game. Tight end David Njoku has the speed to be a real weapon down the seam, though he is very raw -- something that could be made especially obvious with Cleveland's lack of polish at quarterback. The fact that Cleveland is lacking in consistency among its veteran signal-callers should have fans excited about DeShone Kizer. His skill set does fit well in Hue Jackson's scheme. The Browns should be careful about rushing Kizer onto the field too soon, as he remains quite unpolished like Njoku and fifth-round tackle Rod Johnson. Cleveland obviously felt comfortable with Caleb Brantley's off-field concerns but the relatively unheralded third-round pick Larry Ogunjobi is the more consistent player at this point.


Grade: A-

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers' draft class reads like an All-American team with some of the more recognizable names in all of college football. T.J. Watt may always struggle living up to his older, bigger brother's reputation, but his quickness, passion and surprisingly polished hand-play should make him an immediate quality complement to Bud Dupree as an edge rusher. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a perfect intermediate target and blocker on an offense obviously built around Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. Add in tough-minded cancer survivor (and legitimately talented) power back James Conner. Cameron Sutton has the quickness and route awareness to handle nickel duties or slide back to safety. Joshua Dobbs is certainly erratic as a passer but he has the raw traits to develop and possesses the knack of making the big play in critical moments that current backup quarterback Landry Jones never showed during his college years.

Grade: B

Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for , a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with>


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