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AFC North Draft Day Three In Review

The AFC North had a load of selections on the final day of the 2015 NFL Draft, so I’ll spare you the long introduction in favor of brevity. Below is a recap of how each team in the division fared through rounds 4-7 yesterday. A more complete look at each team’s entire draft will come during the next week.

Baltimore Ravens:

Selections: 4.23 (122), 4.26 (125), 4.37 (136), 5.35 (171), 5.40 (176), 6.28 (204)

The Ravens used their first pick of the day on outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, a player that they envision can in time replace Pernell McPhee in their pass-rushing rotation. Three spots later, with their natural selection, they addressed their running back depth by adding Buck Johnson, a 220 lbs. one-cut runner who figures to do well with their blocking scheme. With their third pick in the round, they added an intriguing small school cornerback with size in Tray Walker. Very raw and will need to develop.

They earlier ditched their fifth-round pick to trade up, but had two compensatory picks in the round. With their second of three compensatory picks, the Ravens were caught double-dipping at tight end to take Nick Boyle, which was a good landing spot in terms of value. He and Maxx Williams figure to be their future one-two punch if they develop as projected.

Using their final compensatory pick, Baltimore selected interior lineman Robert Myers to add depth in the trenches, and finished off their draft class with another intriguing project in the sixth round with wide receiver Darren Waller. The 6’6” target has tight end traits, but is very raw as well and could use some marinating.

Cincinnati Bengals:

Selections: 4.21 (120), 4.36 (135), 5.21 (157), 6.21 (197), 7.21 (238)

Unlike the Ravens, the Bengals did not wheel and deal, but rather stayed put and let the draft come to them. They had the quantity for it anyway, and it yielded what on paper seems to be a nice group.

They started off their day by capping off their cornerback depth chart with Josh Shaw, who could have gone higher if not for some oddball off the field situations. The Bengals added another interior defender with three-tech Marcus Hardison at the end of the fourth round, who showed interior pressure in college.

Like the Ravens, the Bengals already dipped into tight end on day two, but went back there in the fifth round with C.J. Uzomah, a player the Steelers brought in. Adding free safety Derron Smith and wide receiver Mario Alford in the sixth and seventh rounds, Cincinnati gets two players whose hearts are much bigger than their size. Their longevity in terms of durability is another question.

Cleveland Browns:

Selections: 4.16 (115), 4.24 (123), 6.13 (189), 6.13 (195), 6.22 (198), 7.2 (219), 7.24 (241)

The Browns, unlike the Bengals, love to move around. Of their seven day three selections, only one came from their natural spot, with no compensatory picks involved. In all, they had two in fourth and seventh rounds and three in the sixth round, with no fifth-rounders.

With their fourth-round picks, they added strong safety Ibraheim Campbell and wide receiver Vince Mayle. Wide receiver was a big need for the Browns, so it’s surprising that their one target at the position came late in the fourth.

In the sixth round, they stumbled into cornerback Charles Gaines, who was still on the board, and doubled down on tight ends with Malcolm Johnson and Randall Telfer. The latter was once thought to have a higher ceiling before dropping off later in his college career, while the former more likely has a future as an h-back.

In the seventh round, the Browns continued to insulate the inside linebacker position with Hayes Pullard, who was a productive four-year starter. With their stockpile of picks, they ended their draft by taking a flyer on the very talented but undersize and injured cornerback, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. If he recovers from tearing up his knee just a few months ago, he will turn into a nice player, and great value. An easy risk to take here with all the extra picks.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

Selections: 4.22 (121), 5.24 (160), 6.23 (199), 6.36 (212), 7.22 (239)

As many expected they would, the Steelers doubled down on cornerbacks within the first four rounds, starting off day three by taking Doran Grant, who could have been drafted in the third round.

Needing a tight end, Pittsburgh waited and got one that they liked late in the fifth round with Penn State’s Jesse James. He is in the Matt Spaeth mold whose upside as a pass catcher is a bit higher.

After the brief detour, however, the final three picks were all defense, each at a different level. With their natural sixth, they added L.T. Walton, who projects as a five-tech to add youth to the rotation. They took Anthony Chickillo as a conversion project as a college defensive end, with size similar to their first-round draft pick.

Finally, they took free safety Gerrod Holliman in the seventh round, a good-sized athlete with impressive ball skills, but way too much bad tape to go higher in the draft. I consider this a flyer pick that Carnell Lake hopes to show how to tackle. Apparently his 14 interceptions were too good to pass up not taking a stab. On Twitter, I joked that you don’t need to tackle if you’re the one with the ball.

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