AFC North Draft Recap
By Matt Zenitz
Round 2 (35th overall pick): OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
A first-round talent that slipped to round two, Upshaw, who has been compared with Pittsburgh's LaMarr Woodley, will play an even bigger role than originally expected with the news that reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs may possibly miss all of 2012 with a torn Achilles tendon.
Round 2 (60): OL Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
Another player with first-round talent that most didn't expect to be available late during the second round, 6-foot-5, 333-pound Osemele is a massive, powerful and experienced offensive lineman, who could play either guard or right tackle for the Ravens.
Round 3 (84): RB Bernard Pierce, Temple
An underrated talent with good size (6-foot, 218 pounds), better-than-expected timed speed (4.47-second 40-yard dash), good vision and impressive balance, Pierce helps Baltimore fill the void backup running back Ricky Williams left when he retired.
Round 4 (98): OL Gino Gradkowski, Delaware
A smart, tough and physical offensive lineman, Gradkowski may be relegated to backup duty as a rookie. He is capable of playing both center and guard, but it appears the Ravens are banking on him to eventually step in and serve as heir apparent to Matt Birk at center.
Round 4 (130): S Christian Thompson, South Carolina State
A former Auburn transfer, Thompson has an intriguing combination of size (6-foot, 211 pounds) and speed (4.46-second 40-yard dash). He will likely be a special teamer early during his career, but has the potential to eventually develop into a starter.
Round 5 (169): CB/RS Asa Jackson, Cal Poly
A small-school sleeper, Jackson has the chance to make an immediate impact as a return man, while also potentially factoring in as a subpackage cornerback.
Round 6 (198): WR Tommy Streeter, Miami
A tremendous value during the sixth round, because some had him projected to come off the board as early as round three, Streeter is a high-upside deep threat with a rare combination of size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and speed (4.40-second 40-yard dash). He was only a one-year starter in college and is still raw, but Baltimore will surely find a way to take advantage of Streeter's size and speed during the course of the 2012 season.
Round 7 (236): DL DeAngelo Tyson, Georgia
Tyson is a strong, physical and versatile defensive lineman, with a high motor. He will battle for a spot as a reserve on the Ravens' defensive line.
Round 1 (17): CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
Addressing one of its top needs, Cincinnati added one of the draft's top cornerbacks in the tall, rangy and instinctive Kirkpatrick. The Bengals added three cornerbacks during free agency -- Jason Allen, Adam Jones and Terence Newman -- but all are just average players at this point during their careers, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Kirkpatrick vie for significant playing time as a rookie. Leon Hall, Cincinnati's top cover man, is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered toward the end of last season.
Round 1 (27): OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
This was not a flashy pick by any means, but Zeitler is a tough and physical run blocker, who should step in and be a day one starter at right guard if the Bengals part ways with Bobbie Williams, an unrestricted free agent.
Round 2 (53): DT Devon Still, Penn State
A bit of an underachiever, Still was once projected as a potential top-15 pick, but slipped to the second round because of inconsistencies in his play and effort. Nevertheless, he's talented, and has an upside if he can put things together at the NFL level.
Round 3 (83): WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
The Bengals needed help at wide receiver after parting ways with Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell during free agency, and they got it in the form of the multi-dimensional Sanu. He is a big, tough and productive player, who has drawn comparisons to the Ravens' Anquan Boldin.
Round 3 (93): DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson
While second-round pick Devon Still is more of a penetrating defensive tackle, who will disrupt and get after the quarterback, Thompson is an absolute run-stuffer, with tremendous strength. The two will be part of a deep and talented group of interior defensive linemen, which already includes returning starters Geno Atkins and Domata Peko.
Round 4 (116): TE Orson Charles, Georgia
The versatile Charles can line up in a number of different spots and gives quarterback Andy Dalton another weapon to go along with wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham. Freakishly strong, Charles bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times at the NFL Scouting Combine, the best mark among tight ends, and is also a solid run blocker.
Round 5 (156): CB Shaun Prater, Iowa
Prater is somewhat undersized (5-foot-10, 192 pounds) and struggles some against bigger receivers, but he is a quick, fluid athlete with good ball skills, who could find a role in subpackages.
Round 5 (166): WR Marvin Jones, California
Another weapon for Dalton is Jones, an underrated talent with tremendous ball skills, who was productive during each of his final three seasons at Cal.
Round 5 (167): S George Iloka, Boise State
A player with an intriguing physical skill set, the athletic 6-foot-4, 225-pound Iloka has considerable upside, but he wasn't much of a playmaker during his time at Boise State and was also inconsistent as a tackler.
Round 6 (191): RB Dan Herron, Ohio State
Herron doesn't have elite top-end speed, but is a nice-sized back (5-foot-10, 213 pounds) with decent quickness, who was productive during his two years as Ohio State's featured back. He will vie for the Bengals' No. 3 running back job, behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott.
Round 1 (3): RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
A rare talent, Richardson is one of the top running back prospects to come along during the last decade.
Round 1 (22): QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Age will be the first thing anyone talks about when it comes to Weeden -- he turns 29 in October -- but he is a competitive, proven winner with a huge arm and a reportedly strong work ethic. He should immediately push for the Browns' starting quarterback job, but will have to make the transition from the shotgun-spread offense he primarily ran at Oklahoma State.
Round 2 (37): OT Mitchell Schwartz, California
A smart and experienced four-year starter with good size (6-foot-5, 318 pounds), Schwartz should immediately challenge for a starting job at right tackle, despite being just an average athlete.
Round 3 (87): DT John Hughes, Cincinnati
Somewhat of a surprise pick, Hughes was a decent player during his final two years at Cincinnati and is good against the run, but most viewed him as a player with a relatively limited upside, who was likely to be selected during the later rounds.
Round 4 (100): WR/RS Travis Benjamin, Miami
An explosive player with tremendous speed, Benjamin provides Cleveland with a dynamic return man as well as some much-needed speed in its receiving corps.
Round 4 (120): LB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada
An experienced, productive and athletic linebacker, who has been described as a hard worker with impressive character, Johnson has starter potential, but he should provide the Browns with a solid special teams player in the short term.
Round 5 (160): OG Ryan Miller, Colorado
Miller, who was a highly sought-after recruit in high school, is a good run blocker, whose size (6-foot-7, 321 pounds) and strength (32 reps of 225 pounds) provide Cleveland with depth along the offensive line.
Round 6 (204): LB Emmanuel Acho, Texas
Acho led Texas in tackles in 2011 (131), and has shown the capability to play all three linebacker positions. But he doesn't look to be much more than a backup at the NFL level.
Round 6 (205): DT Billy Winn, Boise State
A nice value during the sixth round, Winn slipped because of a reportedly questionable work ethic, but he is a talented player with impressive quickness, who has shown the capability to be disruptive and get into the backfield.
Round 7 (245): CB Trevin Wade, Arizona
Another solid value late during the draft, Wade doesn't have great size or speed, but he's a fluid athlete, who excels in man coverage and could find a role in the Browns' subpackages.
Round 7 (247): TE Brad Smelley, Alabama
A versatile player with soft hands, Smelley could provide depth as a backup at both tight end and fullback.
Round 1 (24): OG David DeCastro, Stanford
The draft's top interior offensive line prospect, and one of the top interior offensive line prospects to come along during the course of the last decade, DeCastro should immediately help improve an offensive line that has been a problem area for the Steelers as of late.
Round 2 (56): OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
A classic underachiever, Adams has everything scouts look for from a physical standpoint, but is regarded as immature, with a poor work ethic. If he can put it all together, he has a chance to be great, but that's a big if.
Round 3 (86): LB Sean Spence, Miami
Spence lacks prototypical linebacker size, standing just 5-foot-11 and 231 pounds, but he is a quick, athletic, high-energy player with tremendous instincts. The Steelers could eventually him move into a starting role next to Lawrence Timmons.
Round 4 (109): DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington
In Ta'amu, Pittsburgh finds its heir apparent to the aging Casey Hampton at nose tackle. The Steelers also give themselves insurance in case Hampton, recovering from ACL surgery, isn't ready for the start of the 2012 season.
Round 5 (159): RB/RS Chris Rainey, Florida
An electric player with outstanding speed and elusiveness, who can also catch the ball out of the backfield, Rainey is a back with a nice change of pace, who could also factor into the Steelers' return game.
Round 7 (231): WR Toney Clemons, Colorado
An intriguing prospect, with a nice combination of size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), speed (4.43-second 40-yard dash) and ball skills, Clemons will battle for a backup job at wide receiver.
Round 7 (240): TE David Paulson, Oregon
Paulson isn't a great athlete or a strong blocker, but he's a solid, dependable pass catcher, who could contribute as either an H-back or a backup tight end.
Round 7 (246): CB Terrence Frederick, Texas A&M
Frederick is undersized (5-foot-10, 187 pounds), but is a good athlete, who will battle for a roster spot as a subpackage corner and special teams contributor.
Round 7 (248): OL Kelvin Beachum, SMU
A four-year college starter at left tackle, Beachum has just average measurables and posted lackluster workout numbers, but he could vie for a backup job at either tackle or guard.
AFC NORTH DRAFT SUPERLATIVES
Best First-round Picks
1. RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland (third overall)
2. OG David DeCastro, Pittsburgh (24th overall)
Best Early-round Values
1. OLB Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore (second round)
2. WR Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati (third round)
Mid- To Late-round Picks With The Most Upside
1. TE Orson Charles, Cincinnati (fourth round)
2. DT Billy Winn, Cincinnati (sixth round)
3. WR Tommy Streeter, Baltimore (sixth round)
Issue 173: May 2012