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Around the AFC North: Steelers Get Mel Kiper's Lowest Grade; Full Draft Recap

Left: Steelers RB Najee Harris; Center: Browns CB Greg Newsome; Right: Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase

While the Ravens fell just below receiving an A from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., Baltimore was still one of the top-graded teams in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, got Kiper's lowest grade of a C+.

The Steelers have a new running back in Alabama's Najee Harris, who was joined by cornerback Marcus Peters at his draft party. The 6-foot-1, 232 pound Harris, ran for 1,466 yards and 23 touchdowns in 13 games last season.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns got A's from just about everyone other than Kiper and Cincinnati Bengals also received solid marks.

Here's a full recap of each AFC North foe's draft, including pundit grades:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1 (24) – RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Round 2 (55) – TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
Round 3 (87) – C Kendrick Green, Illinois
Round 4 (128) – OT Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M
Round 4 (140) – LB Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M
Round 5 (156) – DI Isaiahh Loudermilk, Wisconsin
Round 6 (216) – EDGE Quincy Roche, Miami (FL)
Round 7 (245) – S Tre Norwood, Oklahoma
Round 7 (254) – P Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech

"This one is tough for me because I'm a big fan of Najee Harris (24) but am almost always against taking a running back in the first round. Round 1 is too valuable, and we've seen over the past decade that good running backs can be found in any round -- or even as undrafted free agents. And when I look at this Pittsburgh roster, I see bigger holes. … I just don't see much value in Pittsburgh's class, and the offensive linemen they did take were picked too high. I haven't even mentioned that the Steelers still don't have a plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger. This class gets a grade in the C range."

"Najee Harris is already blowing up the rookie of the year betting lines. While this may be my own stubbornness, it seems like Pittsburgh should first look to alleviate some of the pressure on an older, immobile quarterback. Then again, we have not seen the Steelers with a back like Harris since their Le'Veon Bell days. Pittsburgh eventually attacked the offensive line, taking center Kendrick Green. Pittsburgh was reportedly hot on Green's trail throughout the process and have a vision for him as a right-away starter, which, if true, highlights some of the expert board work Kevin Colbert has done in the past. Dan Moore, the tackle from Texas A&M, also has a high ceiling for the position and could emerge in a year or two from his backup role into something more front facing."

"The Steelers are clearly looking to maximize the last season (or two?) of Ben Roethlisberger's career, as both Harris and Freiermuth should be able to contribute immediately. But Pittsburgh's decision to take a running back and tight end with its top two picks seems less than ideal as a long-term strategy for a roster that has several pressing needs. I did like the team's addition of Roche in the sixth round, though; he could bring value as a rotational player on the defensive line."

"This [first-round] pick was not a surprise at all, and it also shouldn't be shocking to hear that we at PFF wouldn't pound the table for such a selection; any running back in Round 1 is a reach. Harris isn't much of a breakaway threat, but he does bring value as a receiver, which is a requisite in today's NFL. With the help of his massive catch radius, Harris dropped just two passes on 75 catchable targets since 2019."

Cleveland Browns

Round 1 (26) – CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

Round 2 (52) – LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

Round 3 (91) – WR Anthony Schwartz, Auburn

Round 4 (110) – OT James Hudson, Cincinnati

Round 4 (132) – DI Tommy Togiai, Ohio State

Round 5 (153) – LB Tony Fields II, West Virginia

Round 5 (169) – S Richard LeCounte, Georgia

Round 6 (211) – RB Demetric Felton, UCLA

"How does it feel, Browns fans, to not have to worry too much about an NFL draft? You've got a good, ascending team, and general manager Andrew Berry has shown that he can draft well. The one criticism I have about Berry's top three picks is that he didn't address the defensive end spot. Yes, Jadeveon Clowney was signed to a one-year deal, but there is not much young, talented depth after Clowney and Myles Garrett. They can't rely on former first-round pick Takk McKinley. … Top pick Greg Newsome II (26) had an outstanding 2020 season and then had a great pro day workout, vaulting him into the first round. Injuries decimated the Browns' secondary a year ago, but now they have an outside corner to compete with 2019 second-rounder Greedy Williams opposite Denzel Ward (they also signed fantastic slot corner Troy Hill). Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (52) could be one of the steals of the draft, as he dropped all the way into Round 2. He's a sideline-to-sideline player who is good in the run and pass game. I see him as a rookie starter for the Browns at one of the linebacker spots. Cleveland also needed a slot receiver, and it got one with elite track speed in Anthony Schwartz (91)."

"It's hard to think of a team that picked as late as the Browns did and filled as many needs with high-end starters over the first few rounds. Greg Newsome II could be the final bit of mortar holding together one of the best secondaries on paper in the NFL. Let me say that again three times before I get chewed apart for this – ON PAPER. ON PAPER. ON. PAPER. John Johnson III, Ronnie Harrison, Grant Delpit, Denzel Ward, Newsome and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are going to present some serious matchup issues for their opponents. Cleveland, thanks to this draft, is probably going to be one of the few teams in the NFL capable of dictating what most offenses do instead of the other way around."

"The Browns had an exciting draft, particularly given their unfamiliarity picking so late in each round. They grabbed talented cover man Newsome (the 29th-ranked player on my board) in the first round before selecting spark-plug playmaker Owusu-Koramoah (the ninth-ranked player on my board) in the second. The latter represents incredible value, and both offer day-one starting potential. I'm also a fan of Schwartz, who has world-class speed. He could be a field stretcher and gadget player in head coach Kevin Stefanski's offense―with the upside to develop into something more."

"The Browns are one of the NFL's smartest teams, and they attacked one of the most valuable positions in the game here. Newsome is also a very good prospect, representing incredible value here at No. 26. He was battle-tested on a small sample of snaps in 2020, facing 34 targets through his first four games. He held his own, allowing just 93 yards and five first downs while making eight plays on the ball. His feet are easily the best in the class. Whether Newsome is playing off-coverage or press-man, he'll make plays. … It's not easy to pinpoint a clear role for Owusu-Koramoah in the NFL, but he's talented enough to contribute somewhere."

Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1 (5) – WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
Round 2 (46) – OT Jackson Carman, Clemson
Round 3 (69) – EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas
Round 4 (111) – EDGE Cameron Sample, Tulane
Round 4 (122) – DI Tyler Shelvin, LSU
Round 4 (139) – T D'Ante Smith, East Carolina
Round 5 (149) – K Evan McPherson, Florida
Round 6 (190) – C Trey Hill, Georgia
Round 6 (202) – RB Chris Evans, Michigan
Round 7 (235) – EDGE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State

"The Bengals were in a great spot with the No. 5 overall pick, because they have their quarterback of the future, unlike the teams that had the four picks in front of them. Joe Burrow is their guy. Would they go with Burrow's buddy Ja'Marr Chase, an elite receiver? Or maybe Penei Sewell, a tremendous lineman who could be the team's left tackle for the next 10 years? … In the end, they went with Chase, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner who makes this offense must-see TV. He had 1,780 receiving yards and caught 20 touchdown passes from Burrow in 2019 before opting out of last season. Burrow now has Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon as good -- and young -- playmakers around him, though the Bengals still need to upgrade at tight end. This is a group that can grow together and should terrify defensive coordinators. … On Day 2, Cincinnati traded down and took Trevor Lawrence's college left tackle Jackson Carman (46), who coach Zac Taylor will have compete for one of the starting guard spots. It was high for Carman on my board."

"Joe Burrow's knee injury was not the fault of his tackles. You can separate that argument from the fact that the Bengals' offensive line has been perpetually scattershot and, in 2021, is highly dependent on young players developing on schedule. Picking Ja'Marr Chase at No. 5 is a fine decision in the context of a deep tackle class. Trading down in the second round beyond the wave of top second-round tackles and then nabbing Clemson's Jackson Carman, though, was a bit puzzling. Perhaps Carman will find his own at guard, which will give the Bengals more of an interior presence. The hope, then, is that Riley Reiff can hang on as he enters his age-33 season. I tend to agree with those who would have preferred the Bengals take Penei Sewell and then a wide receiver in the second."

"The Bengals' decision to go with Chase over Penei Sewell at No. 5 was controversial, and I probably would have taken the foundational offensive tackle instead of this draft's top wide receiver. But that doesn't mean I don't love Chase, who could put up massive numbers after being reunited with his former college quarterback Joe Burrow. And Cincinnati did address its offensive line needs by taking Carman in the second round, Smith in the fourth, and Hill in the sixth. They should give Burrow a little more time to operate than he had during the 2020 season."

"The Bengals bring in former LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase, reuniting him with national championship-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Chase dominated the 2019 season, posting a 91.1 PFF grade to go along with 20 touchdowns, all thrown by Burrow. Cincinnati passes on an offensive lineman to bolster a receiving corps that was lacking a contested-catch monster. They now have one. … It remains to be seen whether [Jackson] Carman plays tackle or guard in Cincinnati, but he raises the talent level of the group regardless of where he lines up. Carman has an impressive combination of size and athleticism and was playing his best football toward the end of the 2020 season."

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