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What Ravens' AFC North Foes Did In The Draft


The Ravens weren't the only team that got better last weekend.

Baltimore's AFC North rivals also had impressive drafts. After it was all said and done, it's probably a good thing that the Ravens went defense-heavy early on.

The Ravens don't react to the selections made by their foes, but they do go into every draft assessing what it's going to take to defeat their division opponents.

For example, Baltimore knows Pittsburgh has very talented offensive weapons. They were on full display when the Steelers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter on Christmas Day last year. The Ravens also know about Cincinnati's offensive talent, particularly at wide receiver.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens' selection of cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the first round does "counter our division."

"You have to match strength for strength, and I think we have done that with this pick," Harbaugh said after the selection of Humphrey. "It gives us a chance to get out there in the fourth quarter, in two-minute, and do the things we need to do to finish games."

Here's a look at the rest of the AFC North's draft, including the instant grade each team received from ESPN's Mel Kiper (the Ravens’ grade was a B):

Pittsburgh Steelers
Kiper's grade: B

Round 1 (30): OLB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Round 2 (62): WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
Round 3 (94): CB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
Round 3 (105): RB James Conner, Pittsburgh
Round 4 (135): QB Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Round 5 (173): CB Brian Allen, Utah
Round 6 (213): LS Colin Holba, Louisville
Round 7 (248): DE Keion Adams, Western Michigan

The Steelers took another shot at a pass rusher in Round 1 after mixed success in recent years. They took Jarvis Jones in the first round in 2013, but he never took off and is now in Arizona. The Steelers' 2014 first-round pick, Ryan Shazier, and 2015 first-rounder, Bud Dupree, have 15.5 sacks combined over the past three years. The Steelers have aging James Harrison back again, but needed more youth. Watt, the younger brother of Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, had one year of production at Wisconsin as a senior, in which he posted 11.5 sacks. He may not be a polished pass rusher yet, but he's tough.

Many analysts marked Smith-Schuster as a fit for the Ravens considering he's reminiscent of Anquan Boldin. While he doesn't have elite speed, Smith-Schuster plays with a competitive edge that fits the AFC North. Sutton missed about half of last season with a fractured ankle, and could be a bargain.

Cincinnati Bengals
Kiper's grade: B-

Round 1 (9): WR John Ross, Washington
Round 2 (48): RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Round 3 (73): DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Round 4 (116): DE Carl Lawson, Auburn
Round 4 (128): WR Josh Malone, Tennessee
Round 4 (138): DT Ryan Glasgow, Michigan
Round 5 (153): K Jake Elliott, Memphis
Round 5 (176): C J.J. Dielman, Utah
Round 6 (193): ILB Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
Round 6 (207): CB Brandon Wilson, Houston
Round 7 (251): TE Mason Schreck, Buffalo

The Bengals took some risks, but with a potential high payoff. Ross is an explosive athlete who broke the combine's 40-yard dash record (4.22 seconds). He could pose big-time matchup problems and is yet another deep threat to deal with along with A.J. Green. However, Ross has a history of injuries and his smaller frame will take some big hits in the black-and-blue AFC North.

Mixon comes with his own issues after he was suspended for punching a woman in the head. He's very talented, and the Bengals must feel comfortable with his decision making to invest a second-round pick. Mixon will compete for the starting job with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.

Willis and Lawson are two big-bodied, athletic pass rushers who could have also fit in Baltimore. Like Ross, Lawson has also had trouble staying healthy, however.

Cleveland Browns
Kiper's grade: B

Round 1 (1): DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
Round 1 (25): S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Round 1 (29): TE David Njoku, Miami
Round 2 (52): QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Round 3 (65): DT Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
Round 4 (126): CB Howard Wilson, Houston
Round 5 (160): OT Roderick Johnson, Florida State
Round 6 (185): DT Caleb Brantley, Florida
Round 7 (224): K Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
Round 7 (252): RB Matthew Dayes, N.C. State

With three first-round picks (plus another one added in the 2018 draft), the Browns are stockpiling talent. Garrett was widely considered the best prospect in the draft, and the Browns stayed put and picked him. He'll be a major challenge for Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley for years to come.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he thought Peppers will be an impact player in the NFL. The Browns are already finding a role for his versatility on defense, offense and special teams. Njoku is a freakishly athletic pass catcher who will be a matchup problem.

However, the Browns are still looking for their franchise signal caller, and they again passed on the top quarterback in the draft. Last year, Cleveland traded back instead of picking Carson Wentz at No. 2 overall. This year, the Browns passed on Mitchell Trubisky and then again traded back instead of selecting Deshaun Watson. Kizer has potential, but had a tough season last year at Notre Dame. The Browns' quarterbacks are Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler, Kevin Hogan and Kizer.

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