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Insider Only AFC North Draft Grades

Baltimore Ravens

Draft Grade: A-
Analysis: The Baltimore Ravens addressed a pressing need at wide receiver, trading for No. 1 receiver Anquan Boldin this off-season. Boldin gives them that dynamic playmaker at the receiver position they have long coveted and the addition of Boldin gave them the opportunity to address other needs.
In the draft they focused on bolstering their defense and getting more help for quarterback Joe Flacco.
In Round 2, the Ravens added OLB Sergio Kindle and DT Terrence Cody. Two players who had first round grades and have the potential to be pro-bowl type of players.
Baltimore has the potential of having a dominant 1-2 punch with Cody and Haloti Ngata to anchor their defensive line.
Cody should contribute from day 1.
Kindle is an intriguing prospect with high upside and fell into the second round due to health concerns.
Kindle may go through some growing pains in year 1 as he makes the transition to OLB in the Ravens 3-4 scheme.
Kindle will backup Jarret Johnson at strong-side linebacker, with the intention of moving Johnson inside next to Ray Lewis, once Kindle develops into a starter.
Another pressing need for the Ravens is the tight end position and they drafted a pair of highly rated tight end prospects in Oregon’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
Dickson, 6-4, 250 lbs, had 42 receptions for 551 yards and 6 TD’s in 2009.
One area the Ravens did not address is their secondary.

Cincinnati Bengals

Draft Grade: B
Analysis: The Bengals draft was another intriguing one. They landed a number of high upside players who fell in the draft as the Bengals don’t shy away “risk” players.
At No. 21, the Bengals passed on wide receiver Dez Bryant and selected the best tight end in Jermaine Gresham.
Tight end was a major weakness for the Bengals in 2009 and Gresham adds another dimension to the Bengals passing game which struggled at times in 2009.
Gresham missed the entire 2009 season due to injury.
In the second round, Cincinnati added Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap. A phenomenal talent with a ton of upside but has character concerns off the field and lacked consistency at the college level. Should have been more of a dominating player than he is.
In the third round, the Bengals selected Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley with the No. 84 overall pick.
Shipley was a standout at Texas, leading Texas with 116 receptions for 1,485 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2009. In 2008, Shipley had 89 receptions for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In the third round, the Bengals also added Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee, a player that was expected to go in the second round.
Another high upside player with tremendous physical skills whose production didn’t always meet his talent.
He was considered a 1st round prospect prior to the 2009 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Draft Grade: B-
Analysis: The Steelers addressed their interior offensive line, selecting Florida Center Maurkice Pouncey in the 1st round.
Pouncey (6-5, 280) who is just 20 years old, adds versatility to the Steelers offensive line and will begin his career at right guard with the expectation of eventually being the Steelers anchor at the center position for years to come
Pouncey is a bright kid and an extremely hard worker who immediately made an impact at Florida
In 2007 Pouncey appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman, including 12 starts at right guard or center. In 2008, Started all 14 games at center. and started all 14 games at center in 2009.
Pouncey was an unanimous first- team All-SEC, second-team AP All-America, and 2009 Rimington Award winner as the nation’s top center.
In the second round, the Steelers made what some consider a surprise pick, selecting Virginia Tech outside linebacker Jason Worilds. The pick was a surprise to the media and fans but not to teams around the league.
Some teams had him rated as an early second round pick and Worilds is considered good value for the Steelers at No. 52.
Worilds is an athletic outside linebacker who has the ability to immediately contribute on special teams and develop behind LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.
In the third round, the Steelers added speed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who might not be ready to contribute right off the bat at the wide receiver position but adds another dimension to the Steelers return game.
Sanders had 98 receptions for 1,339 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2009 at SMU.
The Steelers were linebacker happy for much of the draft, adding linebackers Thaddeus Gibson and Stevenson Sylvester on day 3 of the draft.
Gibson is a project at outside linebacker but the Steelers love his pass rushing potential.
Gibson and Sylvester are versatile players who the Steelers believe will contribute immediately on special teams.
Sylvester is a hard hitting linebacker who excelled on special teams in college.
A sleeper pick for the Steelers was running back Jonathan Dwyer in the 6th round. Dwyer is a power back who rushed for 1,395 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009.
The Steelers best move of the draft was trading a 5th round pick for cornerback Bryant McFadden.
The Steelers addressed their cornerback situation with a veteran player who knows their system and instantly becomes a starter alongside Ike Taylor.
McFadden struggled with Arizona in 2009 but the Steelers are confident that he will regain his 2008 form, returning to the Steelers defensive scheme.
McFadden was the Steelers 2nd round pick in 2005, and a player they wanted to keep last off-season. The Steelers signed him to a three year extension.

Cleveland Browns

Draft Grade: C-
Analysis: Despite drafting high in the 1st and 2nd round, Cleveland made some questionable selections.
With No. 7 overall selection, the Browns selected cornerback Joe Haden from Florida, the top cornerback on the board.
Addressing the secondary was a need, but a better fit for the Browns might have been Texas safety Earl Thomas who could have been a centerpiece to build around on defense.
In the second round, the Browns made a reach pick, selecting Oregon safety T.J. Ward.
In the third round, Cleveland got great value, selecting Texas quarterback Colt McCoy with the No. 85 selection.
More Draft Thoughts
*The Seattle Seahawks were the clear winners of the draft and the Pete Carroll era is off to a flying start.
The Seahawks landed impact players through the draft and trades. LT Russell Okung fell to them at No. 6, and Earl Thomas being available at No. 14 was tremendous value.
The Seahawks also added wide receiver Golden Tate with the 60th overall pick.
On day 3, the Seahawks instantly upgraded their running back situation, trading 5th round picks for Lendale White and Leon Washington.
*The San Francisco did some good things in the draft. They bolstered their offensive line, selecting LT Anthony Davis with the No. 11 selection and guard Mike Iupati with the No. 17 selection.
In the second round, they got safety Taylor Mays with the No. 49 selection. Mays was once considered a top-10 pick if he would have left school as a junior.
Outside linebacker Navorro Bowman was also good value in the third round. Blocking tight end Nate Byham was a solid addition by the 49ers in the 6th round.
*Pitt’s Dorin Dickerson ended up being the most over-hyped player of the draft. Teams didn’t buy into the hype as he was selected in the 7th round.
Andy Simms the agent for Dorin Dickerson was under the belief that Dickerson would be off the board by round 3. There was even talk that Dickerson could go into the 2nd round. One scout said there just wasn’t enough good tape on Dickerson and he’s considered to be a player without a position.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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