NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Roundup: AFC North Day One Recap

Just like that, the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone.

New names and faces have been added to the AFC North that fans will hear a lot about moving forward, which could help shape the teams in the division moving forward.

On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals all made selections from the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City. The Cleveland Browns were idle, celebrating the acquisition of quarterback Deshaun Watson while other teams made their picks.

For those that made selections on Thursday in the AFC North, each team came away with a valuable piece.

The Steelers addressed the offensive line, trading up from No. 17 overall to No. 14 with the New England Patriots, to select Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones. That gives second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett some added protection in an offseason in which the Steelers invested heavily in front of him.

On the same day that the Baltimore Ravens and star quarterback Lamar Jackson agreed to a five-year, $260 million extension, keeping the former NFL MVP in the Charm City and ending an offseason of speculation and trade requests, the Ravens added a dynamic play-maker to the offense, selecting Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers at No. 22 overall.

Flowers was a standout for the Eagles with 200 receptions for 3,056 yards and 29 touchdowns in four seasons in Chestnut Hill. His senior season year he racked up 78 receptions for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns while dealing with a mess of a quarterback situation. Flowers surprised many in the pre-draft process by choosing to attend the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas over the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. In the end, he became the highest-drafted player in Shrine Bowl history.

He pairs nicely in Baltimore’s offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken with star tight end Mark Andrews, free agent wide receiver addition Odell Beckham Jr., and third-year receiver Rashod Bateman. Flowers is a dynamic YAC guy and can turn short throws into explosive plays. That fits perfectly in Baltimore’s new attack with Jackson back at the helm.

While the Steelers and Ravens added major pieces offensively, Cincinnati went in the opposite direction at No. 28 overall. It added pass rusher Myles Murphy out of Clemson, grabbing a valuable commodity to get after the quarterbacks in the AFC North moving forward.

A well-built pass rusher at 6โ€™5, 268 pounds with 33 3/4-inch arms, Murphy had a good but not great college career with 36 TFL and 18.5 sacks plus six forced fumbles over a three-year span. In 2022, he notched 11 TFL and 6.5 sacks. A hamstring injury caused him to sit out of this yearโ€™s Combine and the Tigers’ Pro Day. That ultimately caused him to fall down the draft before landing in a great situation with the Bengals.

In Cincinnati, Murphy will join a defensive end room with the likes of Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, not to mention recent draft picks Cam Sample, Zach Carter, Joseph Ossai and Jeff Gunter on the defensive line. The Bengals have some absurd depth at a premium position in the NFL, as pass rusher is right up there in importance with offensive tackle and quarterback in today’s NFL.

Entering Day 2, the Steelers hold three selections, with two in the second round at No. 32 overall to open Day 2 and No. 49 overall, as well as No. 80 overall in the third round.

Baltimore has just one pick on Day 2, coming in at No. 86 overall in the third round. The Ravens traded away their second-round pick, which landed at No. 53 overall, to Chicago in the Roquan Smith trade last season. Smith ultimately signed a five-year, $100 million extension with the Ravens during the 2022 season.

Cleveland will make its first selection of the draft on Day 2 in the third round at No. 74 overall and then again at No. 98 overall. The Browns previously held the No. 42 overall pick but traded it away to the New York Jets for wide receiver Elijah Moore. That pick was ultimately dealt to the Green Bay Packers on Monday for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Browns’ second third-round pick at No. 98 overall is a compensatory pick from the NFL due to the Minnesota Vikings hiring former VP of Football Operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah away as general manager on January 26, 2022.

Cincinnati holds picks No. 60 overall in the second round and No. 92 overall in the third round.

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