Skip to main content
Presented by

Around the AFC North Draft Roundup: Division Rivals Strengthen Trenches


Pittsburgh Steelers: Building Offensive Line to Protect Russell Wilson

Round 1 (20): G Troy Fautanu, Washington

Round 2 (51): C Zach Frazier, West Virginia

Round 3 (84): WR Roman Wilson, Michigan

Round 3 (98): ILB Payton Wilson, North Carolina State

Round 4 (119): G Mason McCormick, South Dakota State

Round 6 (178): DT Logan Lee, Iowa

Round 6 (195): CB Ryan Watts, Texas

After acquiring Russell Wilson and Justin Fields this offseason, the Steelers used the draft to help protect their quarterbacks. Three of Pittsburgh's top five draft picks were offensive linemen – Fautanu, Frazier and McCormick. Pittsburgh had not taken three offensive linemen in any draft since 2012.

General Manager Omar Khan said the Steelers wanted to take advantage of the quality offensive line depth in their year's class.

"It was a strong offensive line group," Khan said via Dale Lolley of the team’s website. "We've talked plenty of times about how we feel about the importance of the offensive line. Even in the fourth round when we had a chance to get Mason McCormick … we had a couple players at the position who are in the last year of their contracts and felt it was important to address it if he was there, and we did."

All three rookie offensive linemen will compete for starting jobs and no matter how the competition shakes out, Pittsburgh will have a new look up front. The Steelers have made major offensive changes, most by acquiring Wilson, hiring new Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith and retooling the offensive line. They also drafted Wilson in the third round, giving Wilson another weapon to join top wideout George Pickens and tight end Pat Freiermuth.

The Steelers ranked 28th in scoring in 2023, which was the lowest of any playoff team. They hope to change that by rebuilding their offensive line in front of a new quarterback.

"Any great team I've been around, it's always going to start up front," Smith told reporters after the draft. "There's obviously so many important pieces, but when you want to play a certain brand of football, Steelers brand of football, it certainly helps to have the right guys."

Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims and Two Defensive Tackles Address Trenches

Round 1 (18): OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

Round 2 (49): DT Kris Jenkins, Michigan

Round 3 (80): WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama

Round 3 (97): DT Jackson McKinnley, Texas A&M

Round 4 (115): TE Erick All, Iowa

Round 4 (149): CB Josh Newton, TCU

Round 6 (194): TE Tanner McLachlan, Arizona

Round 6 (214): EDGE Cedric Johnson, Mississippi

Round 7 (224): S Diajahn Anthony

Round 7 (237): C Matt Lee, Miami, Fla.

The Bengals drafted Mims to give Joe Burrow another huge offensive tackle, then added two defensive tackles to strengthen themselves against the run.

Mims (6-foot-8, 340 pounds) is a massive offensive tackle who only made eight starts at Georgia, but who has impressive athletic tools. The Bengals have ex-Raven Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle, and Mims can compete with veteran Trent Brown for the starting right tackle spot.

Meanwhile, the Bengals ranked last in yards allowed per play (6) in 2023, and addressed that on Day 2 by taking defensive tackles Kris Jenkins of Michigan and McKinnley Jackson of Texas A&M.

"Defensive tackle was a point of emphasis for us," Head Coach Zac Taylor said via the team’s website. "(In) an ideal world, we're going to get two that can contribute, and that was not a sure thing that could happen. Sometimes, runs can go on these guys, and we got two that we really liked, that we've talked about extensively how they fit us — that we have visions for. They're going to help us now, and they're going to help us in the future."

Taylor thinks the two defensive tackles will help them compete in a division where they were the only team that didn't make the playoffs last season.

"It's a physical division," Taylor said. "Big men that have relentless effort and play with a lot of physicality matter in this division."

Cleveland Browns: Michael Hall Has Potential to Help Myles Garrett Bring Pressure

Round 2 (54): DT Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State

Round 3 (85): G Zak Zinter, Michigan

Round 5 (156): WR Jamari Thrash, Louisville

Round 6 (206): ILB Nathaniel Watson, Mississippi State

Round 7 (227): CB Myles Harden, South Dakota

Round 7 (243): DT Jowon Briggs, Cincinnati

It was the last year of the Browns not having a first-round pick as part of their trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The Browns waited until pick No. 54 to select Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall, who they believe will help Defensive Player of the year Myles Garrett make their pass rush even more imposing. Hall is only 20 years old, only had six sacks in college, and was never a full-time starter at Ohio State. However, he has explosive get-off and impressive athleticism, and the Browns believe there's plenty of upside.

"Ultimately it came down to talent," Browns Vice President of Player Personnel Glenn Cook said via Kelsey Russo of the Browns’ website.

"He is a really talented young man. The way I would describe him is a shapeshifter. The way he can move his body, the way he can attack the quarterback."

Hall will join a strong Cleveland front seven that includes Garrett and ex-Raven ZaDarius Smith and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Cook wouldn't guarantee that Hall would start, but expects him to make an immediate impact.

"He has to earn it just like our other guys," Cook said. "We would love it if he did. … Look, you can never have enough guys who can impact the quarterback and impact the passing game. We hope he does."

The Browns' next pick, Zinter, suffered a major knee injury in November while playing against Ohio State and will require time to recover.

Related Content