Divisional Draft Grades: AFC North


The 2020 NFL Draft is complete and fans around the NFL are breaking down their team’s draft hauls with a microscope. Here at PigskinNut, we are going to take a look at each team’s draft haul and give analysis and grade of every team’s pick. This installment will take a look into the AFC North. We’ve already taken a look at the AFC West, the AFC East, and the AFC South so make sure you check those grades out!

Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1, Pick 1: Joe Burrow, QB LSU – A+ – There was no chance that the Bengals would miss out on a blue-chip prospect like Burrow. Andy Dalton had certainly run his course and the Bengals new coaching staff needed a fresh new face for their franchise. Expect great things from the Tiger King.
Round 2, Pick 33: Tee Higgins, WR Clemson – B – Now for a lot of people, Higgins was a first-round prospect. For me, he was meh. Picking Higgins instead of Denzel Mims, K.J. Hamler, or Michael Pittman here was confusing for me, considering that A.J. Green is presumably healthy for next season. However, given that Higgins will likely get jump ball reps, this isn’t a terrible pick for Burrow.
Round 3, Pick 65: Logan Wilson, LB Wyoming – A – This was a great steal for the Bengals and they add a quality future starting linebacker to their new-look defense. Wilson is fast, athletic, and strong and will be a quality player for Cincinnati.
Round 4, Pick 107: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB Appalachian State – A+ – What. A. Steal. Davis-Gaither was one of the players that gathered steam ahead of the draft and gathered it quickly. He’s a bit raw, but has great sideline-to-sideline speed and can even rush off the edge. Another quality add to this young defense.
Round 5, Pick 147: Khalid Kareem, EDGE Notre Dame – B- – This is a decent addition to their defensive depth. Kareem lacks the explosiveness of a true EDGE rusher but he sets the edge well and has great length. He’ll be a solid option as a rotational edge defender.
Round 6, Pick 180: Hakeem Adeniji, OT Kansas – B+ – Excellent value pick for the Bengals here. Adeniji was a four-year starter for the Jayhawks and has potential to be a future starter in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick 215: Markus Bailey, LB Purdue – A – Three linebackers in one draft. Talk about a new-look defense. Getting Bailey in the seventh round is another great value pick for Cincinnati and they look to be building for the future. He’s a high IQ player with tenacious tackling skills and good zone coverage skills.
Final Grade: A-
The Bengals needed to absolutely kill in this draft. They absolutely killed it. Higgins and Kareem, while not the sexiest picks, still will provide depth and quality reps on both sides of the ball. This was a home run class for the Bengals. The AFC North could be in for quite a shock.

Cleveland Browns

Round 1, Pick 10: Jedrick Wills, OT Alabama – A+ – Absolutely amazing pick for the Browns. Some fans expected the team to go wide receiver, but with Wills still on the board and the team desperate for another offensive tackle, this was the home run selection. Wills was arguably the best tackle in this class, even though Andrew Thomas was selected 6 picks ahead of him. He has great feet and can easily play either side of the line. He’ll be protecting Baker’s blindside for the foreseeable future.
Round 2, Pick 44: Grant Delpit, S LSU – B- – As hard as I was on Delpit during the draft process, this is about where I had him going. He’s a tremendous athlete with great range. The issue is, the kid can’t tackle. As long as Cleveland keeps him in deep zone coverage responsibilities, he’ll be a good addition to the defense.
Round 3, Pick 88: Jordan Elliott, IDL Missouri – A- – Solid selection here by Cleveland as they add more pressure to opponents’ pockets. Elliott is big, nasty, and a sneaky good athlete. He will allow Myles Garrett more one on one opportunities off the edge.
Round 3, Pick 97: Jacob Phillips, LB LSU – C – Phillips, unlike his former LSU teammates Devin White and Patrick Queen, doesn’t really possess that sideline to sideline speed and processing skills. Phillips is a great tackler but doesn’t offer much outside of that. He will likely be a run down linebacker and provide depth. The third round was a bit rich for my taste.
Round 4, Pick 115: Harrison Bryant, TE FAU – D – The team that has David Njoku and just signed Austin Hooper is drafting a tight end in the fourth round? Bryant was one of my favorites to watch from this terrible draft class, but I feel like there were definitely other needs that needed to be addressed instead.
Round 6, Pick 187: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan – B- – This is actually a great value pick for the Browns. I had DPJ going a lot higher than this, but perhaps the drops at Michigan lowered his value. He has a good blend of size, speed, and has good ball skills. He suffered greatly from shotty quarterback play and we never really got to see his full potential. I think learning under guys like Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry will be great for his growth.
Final Grade: B-
Wills and Elliott were great picks in my opinion and Delpit and DPJ will offer quality roles, respectively. However, Phillips in the third round and Bryant at all were head-scratchers for me and dragged this grade down. All in all, not a bad class for the dawg pahnd. The Browns add to what should be a competitive team in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1, Pick 26: Patrick Queen, LB LSU – A+ – You have got to be kidding me. The rich only get richer. Queen is a fantastic athlete with great instincts and sideline to sideline speed. He’ll fit right into the Ravens’ locker room as well.
Round 2, Pick 55: J.K. Dobbins, RB Ohio State – A+ – YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! One of the best rushing offenses in the NFL gets a running back with extremely fresh legs and is a perfect complement to Mark Ingram? The NFL is in for a treat next season.
Round 3, Pick 71: Justin Madubuike, IDL Texas A&M – A – This is really starting to irritate me. The Ravens get a great value pick here and a guy who is going to be a wrecking ball in the NFL.
Round 3, Pick 92: Devin Duvernay, WR Texas – A – Another explosive weapon for the Ravens offense. Duvernay is an absolute track star and acts like a running back after the catch. Just wait until Duvernay plays against Cleveland and sees Grant Delpit again.
Round 3, Pick 98: Malik Harrison, LB Ohio State – B+ – Another quality addition to their defense, Harrison is projected to be a quality starting linebacker down the road.
Round 3, Pick 106: Tyre Phillips, IOL Mississippi State – C – This is more of an upside selection rather than immediate impact. Phillips has a ton of power and is an absolute mauler in the run game, but is not very mobile. He will likely need a year or so to get used to the NFL game.
Round 4, Pick 143: Ben Bredeson, IOL Michigan – B – Good pick here for the Ravens. They get a potential replacement for Marshall Yanda, who retired this offseason.
Round 5, Pick 170: Broderick Washington, Jr., IDL Texas Tech – C+ – Adding more depth to their defensive front with this pick. Washington has good leadership skills and great power at the point of attack with decent lateral mobility.
Round 6, Pick 201: James Proche, WR SMU – B – The Ravens get even deadlier on offense with this selection and add another slot receiver to help build their passing offense.
Round 7, Pick 219: Geno Stone, S Iowa – C – Stone could be a sleeper for this Ravens defense, but will likely provide special teams depth.
Final Grade: B
This is overall a great class for the Ravens, especially with their first four picks. They did a great job adding depth to all three phases of the game and got several high-quality players in this group. This remains the best team in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 2, Pick 49: Chase Claypool, WR Notre Dame – B+ – I didn’t necessarily love this pick for the Steelers considering the receivers that were still available, but I don’t think it’s a bad pick. Claypool has the size and speed to be a big target for Pittsburgh and take some pressure off of Juju Smith-Schuster.
Round 3, Pick 102: Alex Highsmith, EDGE Charlotte – B+ – Highsmith is an ATHLETE and will be a great rotational edge rusher in his first season in Pittsburgh. What I’m interested in, however, is his transition from a small school to the NFL.
Round 4, Pick 124: Anthony McFarland, Jr., RB Maryland – B – One of the more forgotten running backs in this class, I think McFarland could be a great complement to James Conner.
Round 4, Pick 135: Kevin Dotson, OT Louisiana-Lafayette – A – One of my draft sleepers, I think that Dotson and his former Ragin’ Cajun teammate Robert Hunt will go down as steals in this year’s class. Great fit for the Steelers.
Round 6, Pick 198: Antoine Brooks, Jr., S Maryland – A – This is excellent value. Brooks was one of the most underrated safeties in college football last season and is a great addition to the Steelers secondary.
Round 7, Pick 232: Carlos Davis, IDL Nebraska – C – The Steelers add more depth on the defensive front. Davis needs some work in his pass rush and lateral movement but could be a developmental rotation nose tackle.
Final Grade: B
The Steelers made better selections in the mid-to-late rounds, but their first two picks were still quality additions to their team and each of their first five picks could make immediate impacts on the field.