2021 NFL Draft
Ja’Marr Chase gives the Bengals a real WR1 again. How did the rest of the AFC North fare during the 2021 NFL Draft? (Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI)

2021 NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

You have to be a certain type of player to ball out in the AFC North, right? The 2021 NFL Draft wasn’t too surprising as the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers got their type of guys. How did each team do during the draft? Which 2021 NFL Draft grade do they deserve? Let’s get right to it.

Cincinnati Bengals

Grade: A-

R1 (5): WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
R2 (46): OT Jackson Carman, Clemson
R3 (69): EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas
R4 (111): EDGE Cameron Sample, Tulane
R4 (122): DI Tyler Shelvin, LSU
R4 (139): T D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
R5 (149): K Evan McPherson, Florida
R6 (190): C Trey Hill, Georgia
R6 (202): RB Chris Evans, Michigan
R7 (235): EDGE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State

I don’t care what anybody says. Ja’Marr Chase rocks and I have zero problem with Cincinnati taking him. Chase is the best wide receiver in the class and probably comps to a rich man version of Anquan Boldin. You have a problem with that? I don’t and nor should you.

I thought Jackson Carman was maybe a bit of a reach but they did trade down to get him. Better yet, D’Ante Smith a ton of potential. When he grows into that frame, Smith has the potential to be awesome. Trey Hill will do just fine at center too. Could easily see him slot in as the starter this year.

It’s really hard to hate this draft. Joseph Ossai should fit in as a situational pass rusher at minimum. Ditto for Cameron Sample. Tyler Shelvin in round 4 is a steal. Could easily be the best nose tackle in the entire draft. Big boy will clog that middle.

Bengals got themselves a new kicker even. I’ll say what I don’t normally say. I love the Bengals draft.

Cleveland Browns

Grade: B+

R1 (26): CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
R2 (52): LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
R3 (91): WR Anthony Schwartz, Auburn
R4 (110): OT James Hudson, Cincinnati
R4 (132): DI Tommy Togiai, Ohio State
R5 (153): LB Tony Fields II, West Virginia
R5 (169): S Richard LeCounte, Georgia
R6 (211): RB Demetric Felton, UCLA

The Browns did very well here. The only reason it’s not an A is because Anthony Schwartz sucks. Fast but has no idea how to be an actual receiver. Wasted pick. Otherwise, a job well done here.

Greg Newsome adds another stud corner to a vastly improved back end. Owusu-Koramoah feels a bit like a wildcard. Not sure how he translates but the upside here in round two is hard to ignore.

Even some of these late round picks were really smart gambles. James Hudson is a former defensive lineman who’s raw but has flashed a ton of potential. Richard LeCounte would have gone much higher if it weren’t for injury. Demetric Felton can be some sort of gadget guy.

Andrew Berry has proven he’s damn good at drafting.

Baltimore Ravens

Grade: D

R1 (27): WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
R1 (31): EDGE Odafe Oweh, Penn State
R3 (94): G Ben Cleveland, Georgia
R3 (104): CB Brandon Stephens, SMU
R4 (131): WR Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
R5 (160): CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State
R5 (171): EDGE Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame
R5 (184): TE Ben Mason, Michigan

Total snoozefest. Rashod Bateman doesn’t belong in the first round. There’s very little upside here. He can run routes but his raw tools aren’t special. He’s going to be held hostage in this offense anyway. Ditto for Tylan Wallace. What is he? Baltimore has drafted a bunch of wide receivers. You’re looking at maybe a guy like Devin Duvernay who now maybe no longer makes the roster. Feels like throws pebbles at the Berlin Wall. Waste of time. Exactly how I feel every Sunday watching this garbage football team.

Baltimore found a way to take a guy who had 0 sacks in 2020 in the first round. Yeah, Odafe Oweh… 0 sacks and played in 2020. The tools are there but this is a total project. Not sure it’s justifiable in the first round. Especially when you gave away Orlando Brown to move up in the first round to do so. Doesn’t make much sense.

it’s not a total fail because there were some smart gambles. Ben Cleveland can probably develop into a starting guard. Shaun Wade sucked last year but I think he can develop if he goes back to the slot where he dominated in 2019. Daelin Hayes was a very solid player for Notre Dame. Ben Mason should thrive in this run first offense.

It’s not like any of this matter. Lamar Jackson is the quarterback. This team is screwed anyway.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: C+

R1 (24): RB Najee Harris, Alabama
R2 (55): TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
R3 (87): C Kendrick Green, Illinois
R4 (128): OT Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M
R4 (140): LB Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M
R5 (156): DI Isaiahh Loudermilk, Wisconsin
R6 (216): EDGE Quincy Roche, Miami (FL)
R7 (245): S Tre Norwood, Oklahoma
R7 (254): P Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech

Najee Harris is a good football player. I’m just not sure it’s a justifiable first round pick. Love Harris but I don’t think he’s special enough to go in round one. Especially since the Steelers failed to land a stud offensive lineman.

Pat Freiermuth feels boom or bust to me. Lacks twitch but he’s big and can block. Mike Tomlin is obviously buying the Baby Gronk comps. Give Tomlin credit. He’s awesome picking skill position players. You have to trust him with both of these picks.

I didn’t see a lot of value with the rest of the draft class outside of Quincy Roche. I’ve been saying this for weeks. I’ll take Roche in the 6th over Jaelan Phillips in the first all day long. Roche is going to find his way getting 8 sacks here in two years. Watch. Stand him up and watch him work. It’s coming.

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