It’s hard to believe, but just like that the 2023 NFL Draft is over.
All that build up for months, and then it’s over in a three-day span.
*sad trombone noise*
While the Pittsburgh Steelers were busy leaving nearly the entire league in the dust with the impressive haul in the 2023 NFL Draft, the three other teams in the AFC North quietly went about their business adding some intriguing talent to the roster overall.
In Baltimore, the Ravens capped off yet another strong draft under GM Eric DeCosta with four draft picks on Day 3. Two of those addressed the offensive line following an offseason that saw the Ravens lose some key contributors.
Here’s how the Ravens’ draft looks overall:
- Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (first round, 22 overall)
- Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (third round, 86 overall)
- Tavius Robinson, EDGE, Ole Miss (fourth round, 124 overall)
- Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford (fifth round, 157 overall)
- Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, OT, Oregon (sixth round, 199 overall)
- Andrew Vorhees, OL, USC (seventh round, 229 overall)
The selections of Robinson, Kelly, Aumavae-Laulu and Vorhees are good value for the Ravens, especially Vorhees, whom the Ravens traded back into the seventh round with the Cleveland Browns to acquire. Vorhees was a consensus top-75 player in the draft before tearing his ACL at the NFL Scouting Combine, which took him off the board for many teams.
Not the Ravens though. They pounced on tremendous value and likely grabbed a high-end starting guard in 2024 for a late seventh-round pick. Robinson adds depth on the edge, while Kelly, the son of former NFL safety Brian Kelly, brings high-end pedigree to the secondary.
Aumavae-Laulu fits the Ravens perfectly. Mauler in the run game.
Baltimore did really well overall, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
In Cleveland, the Browns weren’t active until Day 2 of the draft, but they closed things out well under GM Andrew Berry.
Here’s how the Browns draft looks overall:
- Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennesse (third round, 74 overall)
- Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor (third round, 98 overall)
- Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State (fourth round, 111 overall)
- Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri (fourth round, 126 overall)
- Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA (fifth round, 140 overall)
- Cameron Mitchell, CB, Northwestern (fifth round, 142 overall)
- Lukę Wypler, C, Ohio State (sixth round, 190 overall)
Outside of the bad decision to trade out of the seventh round with the Ravens allowing their AFC North rival to land Vorhees, the Browns had a strong Day 3.
The value of Jones in the fourth round at 111 overall was too difficult to pass up. When he’s in the right frame of mind and committed to the game, he’s a force at right tackle. The way he botched the entire pre-draft process certainly raises major concerns. Risk worth taking for the Browns though. Wypler is great depth for Cleveland overall too, and he could be the long-term starter moving forward if he’s able to surpass Ethan Pocic on the depth chart.
Cleveland also kept McGuire away from Pittsburgh, adding an intriguing pass rusher to a rebuilt defensive end depth chart opposite Myles Garrett with free agent Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Mitchell matches what the Browns like at cornerback with his length and physicality, while Thompson-Robinson is a very intriguing option at quarterback in a room with Deshaun Watson and Josh Dobbs.
Solid draft overall for Cleveland even without it having a first- or second-round pick.
Cincinnati closed out the draft in the AFC North with a strong day under Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin, adding some interesting weapons for Joe Burrow and Co. offensively.
Here’s how the Bengals’ draft looks overall:
- Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson (first round, 28 overall)
- DJ Turner, CB, Michigan (second round, 60 overall)
- Jordan Battle, S, Alabama (third round, 95 overall)
- Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue (fourth round, 131 overall)
- Chase Brown, RB, Illinois (fifth round, 163 overall)
- Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton (sixth round, 206 overall)
- Brad Robbins, P, Michigan (sixth round, 217 overall)
- D.J. Ivey, DB, Miami (seventh round, 246 overall)
The selections of Jones and Iosivas at wide receiver certainly raised some eyebrows around the league, especially after questions were raised about the Bengals’ ability to retain a guy like Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd in a loaded receiver room.
Based on the selections made, Boyd might be the odd man out as Jones is a shifty, tough slot receiving option, while Iosivas can play inside and out.
The Bengals did a nice job adding a home run threat at running back in Brown, one of the fastest players in the draft. The only real puzzling move was the selection of Robbins one year after the Bengals elevated Drue Chrisman to the active roster. They had parted ways with longtime veteran Kevin Huber and handed Chrisman the starting job, and he averaged nearly 48 yards per punt last season.
All three teams in the AFC North addressed key needs and added some intriguing talent overall, which did nothing but make the division all that much more difficult as the best one in the NFL.