By: Jake Leicht
(Round 1, Pick 25) TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina- Hurst makes a ton of sense for the Baltimore Ravens because they like to utilize their tight ends in their passing scheme. When Joe Flacco was at his best, he had tight ends like Todd Heap and Benjamin Watson getting open across the middle of the field. Hurst fits the mold of an athletic pass catching tight end that the Ravens have been looking for over the past several seasons.
(Round 1, Pick 32) QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville- Joe Flacco has struggled considerably over the past season and a half. Adding the quarterback of the future now makes a ton of sense for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson was on of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. If Jackson can learn better footwork technique in the pocket, his arm talent will flourish. In a couple of years, the NFL world may view Jackson to be the steal of the draft.
(Round 3, Pick 19) OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma- Brown would have been a surefire first round pick based on his film at Oklahoma. A hideous Combine performance, as well as questions about his work ethic, pushed him to the third round. If the Ravens can tap into his potential, he could be a tackle that could play on either the right or left side of the line.
(Round 3, Pick 22) TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma- Andrews came into last college football season with a first round grade. Questions about his athletic ability and route running throughout the season caught up with him in the draft. He was always open at Oklahoma, but some analysts believe it was because of their offensive scheme.
(Round 4, Pick 18) CB Anthony Averett, Alabama- This Alabama defensive back impressed scouts at the Combine and his pro day. Averett has some serious ball skills, and he should fit in well in Baltimore. I could see him starting from day one.
(Round 4, Pick 22) ILB Kenny Young, UCLA- Going into the draft, I thought the Ravens could target a player like Rashaan Evans to beef up their linebacking corps. They opted to go with Kenny Young in round 4. He was a tackling machine at UCLA, making 304 tackles over his four year collegiate career.
(Round 4, Pick 32) WR Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State- Scott blasted onto the scene in 2017 at New Mexico State hauling in 76 catches for 1,079 yards and 9 touchdowns. At 6’6 and 215 pounds, he will almost certainly play on the outside. Baltimore needed to get younger at the receiver position. They are always looking for receiving help. Scott has a chance to contribute right away.
(Round 5, Pick 25) WR Jordan Lasley, UCLA- The UCLA product played three seasons with Josh Rosen. Lasley came on strong last year, coming up with 9 touchdowns and nearly 1,300 yards. He is a different style of receiver than Jaleel Scott, so hopefully the Ravens are able to develop both players at the same time.
(Round 6, Pick 16) S DeShon Elliott, Texas- Elliott has some talent, and he flashed it periodically at Texas. He plays the game full speed, but scouts have questioned his instincts on the field. Elliot could be a nice special teamer for the Ravens.
(Round 6, Pick 38) OT Greg Senat, Wagner- Baltimore selected Senat due to his potential. At 6’6, his length is a major positive for him. He didn’t test very well at the Combine, but he was said to have aced his interviews. Senat is a project for the Ravens at the tackle position.
(Round 6, Pick 41) C Bradley Bozeman, Alabama- Bozeman was a center at Alabama, though he may move to guard for the Ravens. Adding offensive line depth late in the draft is always a smart play. Bozeman could crack the roster as a back up at three different positions.
(Round 7, Pick 20) DE Zach Sieler, Ferris State- Sieler is a large defensive end at 6’6, but he only weighs 290 pounds. The Ravens will look to bulk him up, and hopefully get some production from the standout from Ferris State.
I was not in love with the Hurst pick when it happened, but it makes sense that they would draft a tight end that could help relieve some stress for Joe Flacco and eventually Lamar Jackson. Hurst is an older prospect, but teams seemed to be in on him. The Ravens moved back from pick 16 to pick 22, then eventually moved back again to pick 25 overall to acquire Hurst. They used some of that draft capital to trade back up to pick 32 and grab Lamar Jackson. I personally think that Jackson has a chance to be special. If they can work on his pocket awareness and footwork, he could be the steal of the draft. If not, then this draft will be much worse than the “B” grade that I gave them. Orlando Brown is a first round talent on film, but unless coaches can get his motor going, he won’t be in the league very long. Andrews, Scott, and Lasley could all have roles in the passing game this season because of how bad the Ravens’ receiving corps has been for the past several years. I wish the Ravens would have added some line backing help earlier in the draft, but Kenny Young was decent value in the fifth round. Overall, solid draft for Ozzie Newsome in what will end up being his last with the Baltimore Ravens.
Final Draft Grade: B
(Round 1, Pick 21) C Billy Price, Ohio State- The Bengals’ offensive line was in shambles last season. With the addition of left tackle Cordy Glenn and now Billy Price, the Bengals’ line will be much better off this upcoming season. Price injured his pectoral muscle during the Combine, but it sounds like he is on track to be ready for training camp in the summer. Price can slide in to center or guard, and his versatility will be a big plus for the Bengals over the next few years.
(Round 2, Pick 22) S Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest- I love the Jessie Bates pick. The Bengals needed a playmaker at the the safety position, and Bates can be that guy. Over his two seasons that he played at Wake Forrest, Bates had 177 tackles and 6 interceptions. I look for Bates to be a plug and play safety for the Bengals starting this year.
(Round 3, Pick 13) OLB Sam Hubbard, Ohio State- Hubbard fell to the third round of the 2018 draft because of his lack of athleticism. He doesn’t have great bend while coming around the corner, and that puts a damper on his potential. However, grabbing a player with a high motor like Hubbard in the third round is a solid move by the Bengals.
(Round 3, Pick 14) LB Malik Jefferson, Texas- Jefferson is a pretty incredible talent, but he did not live up to the hype that he had coming out of high school while playing at Texas. Jefferson is quick and athletic, but scouts have questioned his instincts from the middle linebacker position. Some draft gurus loved him, while others had him falling in the draft. I think that he was worth the gamble for the Bengals in the third round, because they needed to get more athletic at linebacker this year.
(Round 4, Pick 12) RB Mark Walton, Miami- I love Mark Walton’s talent, but the Bengals already had Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard on the running back depth chart. Walton basically brings the same skill set as both of those players, so I do not understand what the Bengals were thinking here. This is no a knock on Walton, as he has the ability to be a threat in the running and passing game.
(Round 5, Pick 14) CB Davontae Harris, Illinois State- Again, it seems like the Bengals are constantly drafting cornerbacks, but they rarely live up to the hype. Harris has the footwork to play anywhere on the field, but his production at Illinois State wasn’t great.
(Round 5, Pick 21) DE Andrew Brown, Virginia- I like Andrew Brown much more than the NFL teams do apparently. I had him as a third round talent, so the Bengals did a nice job of grabbing him in the fifth round. They needed to bulk up their defensive end depth chart.
(Round 5, Pick 33) CB Darius Phillips, Western Michigan- Phillips is another cornerback for the Bengals to work with in training camp. I like him quite a bit more than Davontae Harris, and I think he could actually play safety in the NFL.
(Round 7, Pick 31) QB Logan Woodside, Toledo- Andy Dalton’s time as the Bengals’ starting quarterback could be coming to an end sooner rather than later. Woodside is an intriguing quarterback prospect that has some great accuracy and tough while throwing the football. I think he could tap into his mechanics and gain some arm strength with the proper NFL coaching.
(Round 7, Pick 34) OG Rod Taylor, Mississippi- Taylor will be a guard that will add some depth to the training camp roster. Again, NFL teams try to find some diamonds in the rough along the offensive line late in drafts.
(Round 7, Pick 35) WR Auden Tate, Florida State- Tate is a huge receiver out of Florida State. Standing at 6’5 and weighing 225 pounds, he could be a red zone threat for the Bengals. His lack of athleticism pushed him to the last round of the draft.
The Bengals added some nice talent in the 2018 NFL draft. I really like the addition of Billy Price to the middle of their offensive line, even though he is currently injured. Jessie Bates III should step in and make an impact in their secondary immediately as well. Adding linebackers Sam Hubbard and Malik Jefferson in the third round helps add some youth to the linebacking corps, but both players are polarizing prospects. Hubbard lacks athleticism, and Jefferson has yet to live up to the hype that he had coming out of high school. Both players have name recognition, but I think at this point both linebackers have some work to do if they are going to contribute right away. I loved Mark Walton coming into the draft, but I do not like the fact that he was drafted by the Bengals where he could rot as the third stringer behind Mixon and Bernard. Lastly, the Bengals added two cornerbacks that could develop into starters in Devontae Harris and Darrius Phillips. Overall, the Bengals did a nice job of adding some talent.
Final Draft Grade: B-
(Round 1, Pick 1) QB Baker Mayfield- I love the Baker Mayfield pick for the Browns. Mayfield is the most accurate passer in the draft class. He has a passion while playing the game that Browns’ fans will love. He might not have the upside as some of the other quarterbacks, but his ability to throw with anticipation will help him succeed early and often for the Browns. People want to compare him to Manziel, but they are not even close to the same player on the field. Everyone that has ever coached Mayfield has commented that he is a football junkie. I think the city of Cleveland will embrace Mayfield, and he will be successful while playing for the Browns.
(Round 1, Pick 4) CB Denzel Ward- Should the Browns have taken Bradley Chubb? I am not sure, but what I do know is that they picked the best cornerback in the draft. The Browns’ secondary was abysmal last season. Ward has the ability to play on the inside and outside for Cleveland, and his versatility will instantly make the Browns’ secondary much better. Ward has a chance to be a shutdown corner in this league because of his speed, ball skills, and ability to play press man coverage.
(Round 2, Pick 1) OG Austin Corbett- I really like the Corbett pick. He fits the physical run scheme that Todd Haley should be employing this season. Corbett can play center, guard, or tackle. Rumor has it that the Browns may look to slide Bitonio to left tackle and Corbett into left guard.
(Round 2, Pick 3) RB Nick Chubb- The Browns needed a young running back that can run between the tackles. They did sign Carlos Hyde this offseason, but he is often injured. Chubb has the attitude and running style to give the Browns a power punch at the running back position.
(Round 3, Pick 3) DE Chad Thomas- Thomas is a big, physical defensive end that could challenge Emmanuel Ogbah for early down snaps this year. Thomas had solid production at Miami, and I would expect him to be ready to contribute right away for the Browns.
(Round 4, Pick 5) WR Antonio Callaway- Antonio Callaway was probably the most talented wide receiver coming out of the draft this year. Multiple discipline problems caused him to miss the entire season at Florida this past year. If he can keep his head on straight, this may be the best pick of the entire draft.
(Round 5, Pick 13) LB Genard Avery- Avery is an athletic linebacker that will probably start the year as a backup on the defensive side of the ball. His profile and combine numbers suggest that he could be a major contributor on special teams.
(Round 6, Pick 1) WR Damion Ratley- Ratley did not produce much during his time at Texas A&M. He is very fast, but at this point he is really just a returner.
(Round 6, Pick 14) CB Simeon Thomas- Thomas will compete to be one of the backups at the cornerback spot. He does have some speed, but with all of the additions that the Browns made in the secondary this offseason, Thomas might have a hard time making the team.
I love what the Browns did in the draft this year. They needed to clean house in the locker room and get some emotional and physical leaders. Baker Mayfield will be the team leader for years to come. While at Oklahoma, his coaches said that other players “idolized” him. He will probably start the year as the team’s backup quarterback, but he will definitely be in the conversation to start during the second half of the season. Denzel Ward will immediately be the team’s best defensive back. Corbett can start at multiple positions on the line, and his physicality will do wonders in Haley’s offense. Nick Chubbcould easily beat out Carlos Hyde for the team’s starting running back role. Thomas will at worst be an early down player for the Browns as well. Antonio Callaway was the best wide receiver in the draft, and he probably would have been a first rounder if he didn’t have off-field concerns. People want to point out that they should have drafted Darnold over Mayfield. Even more people think that the Browns should have drafted Bradley Chubb over Denzel Ward. I don’t know if the Browns made the right choices, but I do know they had a great draft. By my count, the Cleveland Browns may have drafted 6 starters. That is one heck of a way to jumpstart this rebuild. I would not be shocked if they were able to finish .500 or better this year.
Final Draft Grade: A-
(Round 1, Pick 28) S Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech- This was the worst pick of the first round. Edmunds does fill a need for the Steelers, but they probably could have gotten him in round 2 or 3. He played linebacker and safety at Virginia Tech. His production was solid. He had 196 tackles and 6 interceptions. I am still shocked he went in round 1.
(Round 2, Pick 28) WR James Washington, Oklahoma State- Never question when the Steelers draft a wide receiver. James Washington is a great route runner. If Washington can add some speed, he could be dangerous. The Steelers traded Martavis Bryant during the draft, so Washington will step right in and produce day one for them.
(Round 3, Pick 12) QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State- I do not love Rudolph as a prospect, but I was surprised that he was still there in the 3rd round. Rudolph doesn’t have a big arm, but he is accurate with his ball placement. He was also said to have aced his interviews. Rudolph is now tapped to possibly be the quarterback of the future for the Steelers, even if Big Ben disagrees.
(Round 3, Pick 28) OT Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan- Okorafor is a project at tackle, but he does have the natural ability to play on the left side of the line if he can develop better footwork. This was an interesting pick, but Okorafor could start within a year or so with proper coaching.
(Round 5, Pick 11) S Marcus Allen, Penn State- I actually like Allen better than Terrell Edmunds. I would not be shocked if he outplays Edmunds this season. Allen played all four years at Penn State, and he had 320 tackles. He did only have one pick.
(Round 5, Pick 28) FB Jaylen Samuels, NC State- I thought Dimitri Flowers was a better fullback, but I do think Samuels is a better blocker. Samuels should make the team as the number one fullback on the team’s depth chart.
(Round 7, Pick 28) DT Joshua Frazier, Alabama- Frazier has some natural skills, but he didn’t contribute a lot at Alabama. He only had 28 tackles and 2 sacks. I am not sure that Frazier will make the team.
I normally love what the Steelers do in drafts. This year, I didn’t like their draft at all. The Steelers definitely over drafted safety Terrell Edmunds with their first round pick. Edmunds is fine, but he was expected to go at least a round or two lower. I do love the James Washington pick. The Steelers do a great job of drafting and developing receivers. Even though Big Ben hates it, they did a nice job of grabbing Mason Rudolph in the third round. He may not be a great starter in the league, but at worst he will be a backup quarterback. Okorafor is a project, but he could be a great pick if he develops quickly. He could either be an eventual starter, or out of the league within a few years. I also like the Marcus Allen pick. He is insurance in case Edmunds doesn’t workout. The Steelers did not fill their biggest need in the draft. They needed linebacker help to try to replace what Ryan Shazier can do. Hey, maybe Terrell Edmunds will slide to linebacker like he did at times at Virginia Tech. Overall, I do not think the Steelers did a very good job of attaining talent to help them win this year.