Last year the AFC North was a one team show, with the Ravens running away with the division and finishing with the NFL’s best regular season record.
Cleveland was expected to be a serious threat, but Freddie Kitchens' team ran him out of a job by the time the season finished. Throughout the year we saw Baker Mayfield become public enemy No.1 in Cleveland, with multiple lackluster performances during the season. For a team that signed Odell Beckham Jr. in the offseason, nothing seemed to click for the Browns.
The Steelers could still be a team that can contend, but it will be interesting with Big Ben missing the majority of last season. Nothing is off the table in Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati was a dumpster fire last year and practically embraced the tank for Tua or Burrow narrative. Even with the No.1 pick the team should struggle to contend for at least a couple more years.
With Baltimore being the clear favorite to win the division once again, the draft offered its division rivals a chance to thin the Ravens competitive edge.
Draft analysis in order of the strongest draft class to the weakest:
Baltimore Ravens (14-2): Baltimore might have had one of my favorite drafts of any team in the league, but for sure the best of those in the AFC North. Last year in the regular season Ravens looked like a clear favorite to march into the Super Bowl, until Tennessee came out of nowhere to upset Baltimore 28-12 in the divisional round.
The Ravens filled one of its No. 1 needs when it got Patrick Queen at the back end of the first round. Queen should be starting for Baltimore right out of the gates, and would have been the best linebacker in the class if it wasn't for the versatile Siwss Army Knife play style of now Cardinal Isaiah Simmons.
There are also two new threats added to an already dangerous offense with J.K. Dobbins falling off the board at pick 55 and Devin Duvernay at 92. With eight draft picks in the final five rounds, Baltimore managed to round out its roster by filling the few holes it had.
The sleeper of its class was the Southern Methodist project James Proche who has the hands to become a favorite target of any NFL quarterback. Proche only dropped nine passes in a college career that saw him targeted 456 times. Expect big things from him once he has adapted to the NFL.
Cleveland Browns (6-10): Cleveland has found its starting tackle in the form of Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. At pick 10 it was a surprise that Wills was still available being the touted top tackle in the draft.
It also got Grant Delpit from LSU in round two, who has the potential to be a great player if he works on his tackling. Delpit was a projected fringe first round pick so in round two it's a quality pick at a position of need.
The addition of Harrison Bryant at tight end in round 4 was a steal for the Browns which finds the team with a serious red zone threat of the future. He caught 16 TDs and amassed 2,137 yards during a four-year tenure at Florida Atlantic.
The Browns also filled some other glaring holes from last year, but the question remains to be seen if Baker Mayfield can reinvent himself in year three, or will the overhyped Browns of 2019 continue to struggle into the new season.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-14): The Bengals did exactly what was expected of it when it took Joe Burrow No.1 overall. It then took Tee Higgens at pick 33 which was ideal, giving the Bengals another potential receiver for Burrow to target, alongside AJ Green who was franchise tagged heading into this season.
In the middle rounds the Bengals filled another position of need when it drafted two linebackers that it hopes will make an impact in the near future.
Overall, the Bengals drafted the class that was expected of it, with the only question mark being why it waited so long to take an offensive lineman. Cincinnati should be better than last year, but I don’t think Burrow will be able to turn around the sinking ship that is the Bengals for at least a couple of years.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): The Steelers didn't have a bad draft by any means, but it's hard to call it a good one. Mike Tomlin has been a great NFL coach, and always gets the most out of his players, even last year with Mason Rudolph at the helm the team finished .500.
With no first round pick, Chase Claypool was the team's first selection drafted at pick 49 and was one of the most physically imposing receivers of the draft. At 6-feet and 4-inches and 238 pounds, Claypool will outsize the majority of defensive backs he lines up against, but also adds an unexpected amount of speed posting the seventh fastest 40-yard dash of all receivers at the draft coming in at 4.42 seconds.
The Steelers also picked up two decent value picks in guard Kevin Dotson at pick 135, and safety Anotine Brooks Jr. at 198 who should both become serviceable pros in the future. The downside though is this draft does little to help the team win now, and unless Claypool breaks out early, the Steelers hardly improve in a division where every team got considerably better.