And finally we get around to the AFC North, and home of LAMAR JACKSON. Can the RAVENS draft enough talent to help get this team over the Play-Off hump and into the Super Bowl with a scrambling QB like JACKSON? That is starting to become a question already. Will JOE BURROW be back and at full health in Cincinnati? More importantly, will the BENGALS find enough in their Draft to protect him better, give him more weapons to throw to, and shore up the D a bit? Kind of a challenge with 8 Picks. Will the STEELERS find their new lead RB with CONNOR gone? Are the BROWNS as good as many of us think they are? Too many questions. Too many fresh bodies needed. Only 32 Picks for all 4 teams in their group.
Round 1, Pick 27 TERRACE MARSHALL WR LSU
Round 1, Pick 31 SAMUEL COSMI OT TEXAS
Round 3, Pick 94 BREVIN JORDAN TE MIAMI
Round 3, Pick 104 SHAKA TONEY OB/ER Penn State
Round 4, Pick 131 HAMSAH NASIRILDEEN S/LB Florida State
Round 4, pick 136 ELIJAH MITCHELL RB LOUISIANA
Round 5, Pick 171 CHRIS RUMPH OB/ER Duke
Round 5, Pick 184 KHYIRIS TONGA DT BYU
Round 6, Pick 210 DANIEL MOORE OT Texas A&M
Call me crazy! With JOHN HARBAUGH as Head Coach and GREG ROMAN as Offensive Coordinator, I am forcing a WR and receiving TE down their throats at the top of a limited Draft card here. Yep… because until they open that playbook a bit more, quality teams in the Play-Offs can shut down their Offense, in which JACKSON is too easily mirrored by select defenders. I also doubled up on them with Edge Rushers in TONEY & RUMPH, because two of their biggest VFA losses were their top pass rushers in JUDON & NGAKOUE. NASIRILDEEN may take a while to fit in to their schemes, but his athleticism should be a very welcome addition. TONGA is a good, old-fashioned stone wall for the middle of their DL, where everyone seems to have gotten old together in the past couple of years.
Round 1, Pick 7 PENEI SEWELL OT Oregon
Round 2, Pick 38 RASHOD BATEMAN WR Minnesota
Round 3, Pick 69 BARON BROWNING LB Ohio State
Round 4, Pick 111 JACOBY STEVENS S/LB LSU
Round 5, Pick 149 BOBBY BROWN DT Texas A&M
Round 6, Pick 190 DEMETRIC FELTON WR/RB/RS UCLA
Round 6, Pick 202 NOAH GRAY TE Duke
Round 7, Pick 235 RODARIUS WILLIAMS CB Oklahoma State
PITTS was their man, but was already gone by the time they picked in Round 1. The consolation prize may be better for them with a plug and play OT that is big and athletic. Just like a BENGAL of long ago named ANTHONY MUNOZ. BATEMAN is the good hands man to help that receiving corps. Both of the top two picks are major upgrades for the return of JOE BURROW. FELTON and GRAY, on Day 3, will add some talented depth to the weapons locker. BROWNING & STEVENS add talent and depth to their LB group, with STEVENS also being able to provide depth and versatility to the S group. Changes were already made in their DL room, but somewhere in the exchange of personnel, that group got a little thin. BROWN is a big old boy that can move and chase. Depth, my friends, is a key factor in the marathon that is the NFL season. That, and taking care of your Franchise QB.
Round 1, Pick 26 CHRISTIAN BARMORE DT Alabama
Round 2, Pick 59 DYAMI BROWN WR UNC
Round 3, Pick 89 ANDRE CISCO S Syracuse
Round 3, Pick 91 AARON BANKS OG Notre Dame
Round 4, Pick 110 DERRICK BARNES LB Purdue
Round 4, Pick. 132 BEN MASON FB Michigan
Round 5, Pick 169 TRE’ McKITTY TE Georgia
Round 6, Pick 211 JOSE BORREGALES K Miami (F)
Round 7, Pick 257 DEOMMODORE LENOIR CB Oregon
What do you get for a team that now has just about everything? A little bit of this, and some of that, is my answer. This is now a team in the position to pick off of their value board and not push the envelope for a position per se. There is kind of a twitch to grab a WR up high, because one has to question if BECKHAM will be back and his old self again. If he is not, then they need a new No. 1 wideout. So given that uncertainty, I believe DYAMI BROWN is a solid option in Round 2. I also felt like BARMORE was a solid pick late in Round One because of their cutting of SHELDON RICHARDSON and his big Cap hit in 2021. CISCO is a verified ball-hawk which they are still not sure they have on the roster because of past injuries within their S group. BANKS give them a shot to bolster their depth along the IOL, and at a potential cost savings. Gotta be honest, I luv both of those 4th Round selections. BARNES was highly underrated until he showed out at the Senior Bowl venue, and can play almost any LB spot they need from game to game. MASON might beat out JANOVICH, whom they traded for, again saving them money and saving a roster spot or two because of his versatility. BORREGALES was the best prospect in the Special Teams grouping, and will get the chance to beat out PARKEY and McCRANE, who qualify as journeymen in my estimation. McKITTY has the athleticism to become the all-around TE that they lack right now. He needs to be developed as a receiver, but I luv the head start that he brings to that project with his 11″ hand size. Something for almost everyone on this list, with plenty of pro level talent.
Round 1, Pick 24 NAJEE HARRIS RB Alabama
Round 2, Pick 55 ASANTE SAMUEL CB Florida State
Round 3, Pick 87 JAY TUFELE DT Southern Cal
Round 4, Pick 128 K.J. BRITT ILB Auburn
Round 4, Pick 140 ELERSON SMITH DE/ER N. Iowa
Round 6, Pick 216 JAYLON MOORE OL Western Michigan
Round 7, Pick 245 DILLON SOEHNER TE Iowa State
Round 7, Pick 254 JACK ANDERSON OC Texas Tech
If the League weren’t in such state of devaluation of the RB position, there is no way a team picking at 24 would ever have a shot at a player like NAJEE HARRIS. He brings the power and elusiveness to the STEELERS that they never quite got from JAMES CONNOR. He also refined his receiving ability last year with MAC JONES at the helm. Their secondary lost NB/HILTON and CB/NELSON, so they had to be delighted, again, in Round 2 when ASANTE SAMUEL was available. He’s a talented, feisty little guy that should battle with LAYNE for NELSON’s old spot. The team almost lost ALUALU in VFA, and that seems to have forced them to realize how thin they had become along their DL. TUFELE has the resume’ to be the heir apparent to ALUALU, with all of his athleticism and a bit more size. I can see BRITT taking VINCE WILLIAMS spot with a combination of decent athleticism and a pushing approach to stopping the run up the middle. ELERSON SMITH is a small school guy that sat out 2020, however, he showed up and out in Mobile at the Senior Bowl venue. He is built like DUPREE and has some of the same pass-rush inclinations. The last 3 Picks are all geared to depth and youth in their blocking corps. They have had good luck with MAC-OL this millennium, and MOORE could be, for now, a solid back-up all along their front. ANDERSON was one of the pleasant surprises at the Senior Bowl. SOEHNER is from that deep and talented Cyclones TE group and might even make the depth chart as a back-up OT in their jumbo package, at 6’7/268 lbs. He also lined up as an H-B at times in college. This group has a STEELERS feel to it, and I like it.
This division was somewhat limited by only having 32 Picks, but in general, used them wisely. Most of their Picks filled holes, but were NOT reaches for a position deficit. They only corralled 5 of my Top 50 prospects, but got 12 in my Top 100. You can’t fix your roster completely in one Draft, but this group may have helped itself more than your average division. Despite Pandemic Opt Outs last Fall many of whom are returning for a “free” year of eligibility from the NCAA. I expect to see the shortage of draft eligible players show up more when the Picking is over and teams fight to fill up their 90-man rosters. Some recently forgotten Camp vets will get unexpected interest by teams with depth needs.
That’s a wrap for this year’s Team Mocks here at the GBN Report. I will be posting a First Round Mock next week and my official Top 100 list as well.