AFC North draft grades

Cleveland Browns: C

I’ve said multiple times throughout this week that I just don’t like the Browns first two picks, but if you missed it, I’ll restate my argument. Trent Richardson is solid, but he wasn’t worth a top 5 pick, and taking a quarterback is not what the Browns needed. They need someone to come in and help Colt McCoy succeed, not somebody to come in and replace him altogether.

The Browns recovered somewhat in my eyes with their 2nd and and 3rd round picks of T Mitchell Schwartz and DT John Hughes respectively, but their first round kills what should have been the best part of their draft. That’s why the Browns earned just a “C.”

Cincinnati Bengals: A-

The Bengals had 5 picks in the first 3 rounds, and I loved 4 of the 5 picks. The only one I wasn’t sold on was DT Brandon Thompson, but the consensus is that Thompson is a solid pick as well.

The only real reason I didn’t give the Bengals an “A” was that I don’t know if Dre Kirkpatrick can be an elite cornerback in the NFL. He can definitely start, but he never had the “wow” factor in college. All in all, the Bengals had one of the best perceived drafts in 2012, and it should help build up what I believe is a quickly rising team.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B

The Steelers didn’t draft for glamour this season, they just drafted solid players through and through. It wasn’t a special draft for them, but it was focused on building up their core group of players, and I think they succeeded in that regard perfectly.

David DeCastro, the Steelers’ first round pick, will be able to jump in as a starter on that offensive line immediately. Ben Roethlisberger hangs onto the ball too long, and the Steelers have to deal with that by giving him more time in the pocket. Any added time DeCastro provides makes the Steelers’ offense far more dangerous. They should remain near the top of the division, and conference, once again in 2012.

Baltimore Ravens: B

The Ravens traded out of the first round, but they were still able to get Courtney Upshaw, a guy many thought would easily be a 1st round pick, but his draft stock tumbled over the past couple of weeks. Make no mistake about it, the Ravens are glad to snag upshaw with just a 2nd round pick.

The rest of the Ravens’ draft focused on non-premium positions that will continue to strengthen the Ravens’ core group of players as they make an effort to stay atop the AFC North. They’ll have a tough time doing that, even with a solid draft, because the Steelers are always after them, and the Bengals have quickly built one of the best young teams in the league.

Shane Clemons

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.