Just like that, the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is over.
It’s incredible every year how something that we in the draft community work towards for months can be over in the blink of an eye.
Such is life, I guess.
Anyway, things happened in the first round that will affect the AFC North for years to come, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ selection of Alabama running back Najee Harris aside.
With the NFL Draft in Cleveland this year, the Browns were seemingly at the forefront of everything draft-related despite picking No. 26 overall. Once the hometown team came on the clock, all eyes were on the Browns’ front office, which selected Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II, solidifying the secondary further under General Manager Andrew Berry.
Newsome was in the discussion for CB1 in the 2021 class. He gives the Browns three terrific corners in himself, Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, health pending.
The selection makes sense for the Browns, who want to be physical, in-your-face and wear-you-down, which is exactly how Newsome plays as a corner. He didn’t allow a single completion his way on third or fourth down last season at Northwestern!
Aside from the Browns’ add of Newsome, the Cincinnati Bengals made the first AFC North selection of the night, grabbing LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, whom many considered the best receiver in the class.
While the selection makes sense in terms of uniting Joe Burrow with his favorite target from LSU, it was hard to watch Cincinnati pass on a guy like Oregon’s Penei Sewell. Sewell would have slid into the lineup at left tackle right away. That would kick Jonah Williams inside, solidifying guard and tackle in the process in front of Burrow, who blew out his knee last year on a sack.
I can say this about the Bengals’ pick: T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett sure are happy the Bengals didn’t address offensive line with the fifth pick.
Finally, in Baltimore the Ravens — owning an extra first round pick following the trade of Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs — found themselves adding a playmaker for Lamar Jackson, and a guy who can get after the quarterback on the other side of the ball.
At No. 27 overall, the Ravens grabbed Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman, giving them some size and speed at receiver for Jackson, who should have no excuses in the passing game now with Bateman joining Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews.
Bateman has great speed and is built extremely well for the position. He could be a force in the slot for the Ravens, who missed out on some of the top receivers in free agency.
At No. 31 overall, the Ravens grabbed Penn State pass rusher Odafe Oweh.
Though Oweh didn’t record a single sack in 2020, he reminds me a lot of Danielle Hunter in Minnesota. He’s a traitsy player that is still developing as a pass rusher. Though he doesn’t have a ton of experience rushing the passer standing up, he profiles as a strong developmental weapon on the defensive side of the ball for the Ravens moving forward.