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NFL Draft Review: Defence dominates in AFC North

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The Sports Network
5/14/2014 1:03:51 PM
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Baltimore Ravens

1 (17) - C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama; 2 (48) - Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State; 3 (79) - Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State; 3 (99) - Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State; 4 (134) - Brent Urban, DT, Virginia; 4 (138) - Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina; 5 (175) - John Urschel, OG, Penn State; 6 (194) - Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State; 7 (218) - Mike Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest

Top Picks Analysis: Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is regarded as one of the best talent evaluators in football and he shined again this year, bolstering the interior of the front seven by snaring a pair of first-round talents in the opening two rounds, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley at No. 17 overall and Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with the 48th selection.

The Ravens have been lacking a bit in the middle since losing Ray Lewis to retirement and Dannell Ellerbe to free agency after winning Super Bowl XLVII. Mosley, an instinctive read-and-react linebacker, should hit the ground running next to veteran Daryl Smith.

"He's such a solid football player," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said when discussing Mosley. "There are some concerns about his shoulder, but he was medically cleared by just about every team. He's a plug-and-play linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He pursues sideline to sideline. This is a typical Baltimore Ravens solid football player."

Jernigan, fell a bit due to a diluted urine sample at the NFL Scouting Combine. He is regarded as a pure three-technique, however, so he may not be a great fit for the 3-4 but he had too much talent for Newsome to pass up.

Jernigan's teammate with the Seminoles, third-round safety Terrence Brooks, was a solid pick at a position of need and he will be given every opportunity to start opposite Matt Elam next season.

The team's other third-round choice, Colorado State tight end Crockett Gilmore, is the pure in-line tight end needed to complement Dennis Pitta and free agent acquisition Owen Daniels.

Best Value Pick: Wake Forest wide receiver Mike Campanaro was a nice roll of the dice in the final round. Campanaro is a pure slot receiver who could be something if he pays more attention to detail while running routes.

Questionable Calls: As noted Jernigan projects as a pure three-technique and just doesn't have the mass to play inside at nose tackle in Dean Pees' 3-4 nor the length to turn into a real option as a five-technique.

Summary: More often than not Newsome's moves smack of common sense and with the exception of the Jernigan pick, that was the case again this time around. The Ravens added a potential difference maker at inside linebacker and a prospective starter at safety. If they can figure out how to harness Jernigan's natural skills in their scheme, this should turn out to be a home run.

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: LB Zach Orr, North Texas; WR Darius Bell, UCLA; WR Jeremy Butler, Tennessee-Martin; OT James Hurst, North Carolina; DT Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech; DT Jamie Meder, Ashland; LB Terrance Bullitt, Texas Tech; DL A.J. Pataiali'i, Utah State; CB Sammy Seamster, Middle Tennessee State; OT Brett Van Sloten, Iowa; LB Xavius Boyd, Western Kentucky; TE Jake Sinkovec, Boston College; WR Jace Davis, Northern Colorado; LB Xavius Boyd, Western Kentucky; OL Parker Graham, Oklahoma State; P Richie Leone, Houston; WR Jerry Rice Jr., UNLV; RB Fitzgerald Touissant, Michigan; DE D.J. Roberts, Tennessee-Martin; OL Ryan Jones, San Jose State S Dexter Moody, Albany State

Cincinnati Bengals

1 (24) - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State; 2 (55) - Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU; 3 (88) Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia; 4 (111) Russell Bodine, OC, North Carolina; 5 (164) - A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama; 6 (212) - Marquis Flowers, OLB, Arizona; 7 (239) - James Wright, WR, LSU; 7 (252) - Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern

Top Pick Analysis: The Bengals had a very productive draft, standing pat at No. 24 and landing what some believe was the best cornerback in the draft, Michigan State press-corner star Darqueze Dennard.

Beefing up the cornerback position was a key for Cincy because Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury and Terence Newman will be 36 by next season.

The Bengals were on to something last year at running back by teaming the explosive Giovani Bernard with chain-mover BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The "Law Firm" will be 29 in July, however, so Cincinnati snared his heir apparent in the second round, LSU 235-pounder Jeremy Hill.

Third-round defensive end Will Clarke, meanwhile, had the length the Bengals are looking for and will help replace Michael Johnson, who fled to Tampa Bay in free agency.

Best Value Pick: Offensive lineman Russell Bodine, a fourth-round choice out of North Carolina, can play all three interior positions and could eventually push Trevor Robinson at center.

Questionable Calls: The Bengals have made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history, a run that began with the arrival of Andy Dalton at the quarterback position. The "Red Rifle" hasn't been able to get it done in the postseason, however, and until he does the pressure will continue to mount.

Getting high-profile Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who many had rated as a potential second- or third-round choice, in the fifth round may seem like a prudent move but it could also turn up some unnecessary heat on Dalton.

Summary: It's rare you can get a talent like Dennard at a need position with the 24th pick so that will help immensely. Cincinnati followed that with a number of logical choices and the McCarron pick could even prove fruitful down the line

FINAL GRADE: B+

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: WR Alex Neutz, Buffalo; DL/FB Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest; FB Ryan Hewitt, Stanford; RB James Wilder Jr., Florida State; G Trey Hopkins, Texas; TE Colin Lockett, San Diego State; OL Kevin Palmer, Baylor; S Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State; OL Dan France, Michigan State; RB Jeff Scott, Ole Miss; OT Curtis Feigt, West Virginia University; DE James Davidson, UTEP

Cleveland Browns

1 (8) - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State; 1 (22) - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M; 2 (35) - Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada; 3 (71) - Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa; 3 (94) - Terrance West, RB, Towson; 4 (127) Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

Top Picks Analysis: Trader Ray certainly made his money on draft weekend.

First-year Browns general manager Ray Farmer moved up and down three different times in the opening round, eventually snaring Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, as well as a 2015 first-round pick from Buffalo.

The good news is that Gilbert could be he best cornerback in the draft and should team with Joe Haden to give the Browns an impressive presence on the edges of their defense, while Manziel could be the answer at the game's most important position and is certainly an exciting face for the franchise.

The bad news is that by trading out of the No. 4 spot Farmer passed up on two of the four real blue-chip prospects in the is draft -- Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack -- and the team is also on the verge of losing superstar receiver Josh Gordon for the entire 2014 season due to a drug suspension.

Offensive lineman Joel Bitonio of Nevada was the team's second-round pick and could solidify the right guard position or kick out to right tackle eventually.

A pair of third-rounders -- inside linebacker Christian Kirksey of Iowa and running back Terrance West -- should also be contributors.

Questionable Calls: Passing on Watkins when Cleveland.com reported that several members of the organization knew about Gordon's impending suspension for at least a week borders on malpractice. The fact that Cleveland went through the entire draft -- perhaps the deepest WR draft in 20 years -- without taking a receiver is malpractice.

"I would tell the fans that are in panic mode because we didn't draft a wide receiver is that patience really tells the tale," Farmer said. "There are plenty of opportunities for us to address what everyone would believe is a need but in our opinion, there is plenty of opportunity to add players, to change the roster and to really make a difference."

Summary: Farmer deserves plenty of credit for pilfering the Bills for what could be a top-10 pick next year and if Manziel solidifies the QB position, this draft will be judged a success no matter what. That said, revisionist history can't mask the poor decision-making Farmer and the Browns exhibited in the wake of the Gordon news.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: WR Willie Snead, Ball State; WR Chandler Jones, San Jose State; WR Kenny Shaw, Florida State; FB Ray Agnew, Southern Illinois; QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina; LB Carlo Calabrese, Notre Dame; RB Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State; TE Blake Jackson, Oklahoma State; QB Corey Robinson, Troy; LB Christo Lisika, South Nazarene; OL Anthony Dima, UMass; DL Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State; S Jacques Washington, Iowa State; LB Greg Blair, Cincinnati; S Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh; LB Alex Bazzie, Marshall; S Nickoe Whitey, Mississippi State; WR Jonathan Krause, Vanderbilt; OT Michael Philipp, Oregon State; DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Florida State; DB K'Wuan Williams, Pittsburgh; WR Gerald Ford, Valdosta State; WR Taylor Gabriel, Abilene Christian; S Robert Nelson, Arizona State

Pittsburgh Steelers

1 (15) - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State; 2 (46) - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame; 3 (97) - Dri Archer, RB, Kent State; 4 (118) - Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson; 5 (157) - Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona; 5 (173) - Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt; 6 (192) - Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, UCLA; 6 (215) - Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee; 7 (230) - Rob Blanchflower, TE, UMass

Top Picks Analysis: The Steelers went all in on the front seven, snaring Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier at No. 15 overall, and following that up with Notre Dame five-technique Stephon Tuitt, a potential value in the second round.

Shazier is lightning fast and projects as an all-around linebacker but he will probably need to be protected a bit by a nose tackle who can occupy multiple blockers.

Tuitt was regarded as a top-15 talent heading into his junior season with the Fighting Irish but he had an injury-plagued season and was out of shape for much of it. If Tuitt can get his body back on track, Pittsburgh may have something.

Third-round running back Dri Archer is a scatback with return ability and a nice complement to big bodies like Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.

Best Value Pick: Daniel McCullers, the team's sixth-round choice out of Tennessee, is a massive defensive tackle who has the raw strength to be a two- down beast as long as he improves on his technique and develops more dedication to the game.

Questionable Calls: The 15th overall slot was probably a bit too high for a player like Shazier, who the Steelers project inside. He'll need plenty of help from players like McCullers to keep opposing guards off of him at the second level.

Summary: Pittsburgh needed to get younger and more athletic on defense and the team took steps in that direction although the top two choices both come with significant risk.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: C Chris Elkins, Youngstown State; TE Eric Waters, Missouri; DE Josh Mauro, Stanford; LB Howard Jones, Shepherd; OL Will Simmons, East Carolina; QB Brendon Kay, Cincinnati; DL Ethan Hemer, Wisconsin; QB Terrance Owens, Toledo; S Jake DeMedal, St. Francis; DB Devon Carrington, Stanford; OT Kaycee Ike, Alabama-Birmingham; DT Roy Philon, Louisville

Rooney and Shazier (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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