Steelers, Bengals dominate 2023 NFL Draft
The Steelers, Bengals and Browns all get strong grades from Connor Rogers for their 2023 NFL Draft hauls, but he has some questions about the Ravens' choices.
CONNOR ROGERS: A ton of star power in the AFC North, especially with Lamar Jackson back on the fold with a long term contract. And let's start right there with the Baltimore Ravens. This draft for me-- I have some question marks. Usually the Ravens use more draft selections. I thought they took Zay Flowers a little earlier than I would have expected. I do like the Trenton Simpson pick here. I valued him as a top 40 player in this draft. They got him 86th overall.
I didn't think the Ravens walked away with anything besides those two guys. I have to be a little bit of a tough grader here and give it a C-plus. I think Baltimore's done a great job this off-season, starting with the hiring of Todd Monken, rounding out the wide receiver corps. And I didn't think they got a lot of depth throughout this draft, and that is unlike Baltimore and their traditional ways.
But moving over to the much more positive, let's look at the Pittsburgh Steelers who walk away with an A. And how could they not? They got Darnell Washington at tight end later on in this draft. He was an incredible value pick. I had him at 17th overall. They got him at 93. But it wasn't just Darnell Washington-- a starter on the outside with a press corner in Joey Porter, Keeanu Benton, who could play three tech or a nose tackle-- they are going to be a tough, rugged team on the interior of the defensive line with the addition of him.
And let's see if they can develop Broderick Jones because he has a lot of upside as an athletic, long term tackle, especially whether it's in a zone scheme or his drive blocking in a more gap principle. So the Steelers-- they knocked this out of the park and got back to their roots of being a line up and punch you in the face kind of team.
And the Cincinnati Bengals-- they're not going anywhere. They walk away with an A-minus. It felt like Cincinnati was content with just getting starter after starter, and there's nothing wrong with that. Whether it was Myles Murphy, his tough run defense up front-- he's got the long arm pass rush ability as well. I like the Jordan Battle pick. I think he's a starter at safety, whether you want to play him at free, you want to play him a strong safety in a class that did not have a lot of guys like that. And if you started that long at safety for Nick Saban, you're doing something right.
But the value pick for them has to be Andrei Iosivas. They took him 206-- the developmental wide receiver from Princeton with length and speed-- great track athlete. I had him at 143, so a player that was in my top 150 does not go in the top 200. And the Bengals look at that and go, let's see if we could develop him as our third or fourth wide receiver for the long term in an area where we're already feeling pretty good about. This is called playing with house money.
You move down to the Cleveland Browns. This is a B-plus for me. That's pretty impressive considering the lack of draft capital at the top that the Browns had-- the Cedric Tillman, one of my favorite wide receivers in this draft. I looked at him and said, he's wide receiver four-- the big body, the ability to shield defenders and catch the ball. Great, great hands, a big time red zone threat.
And then the value of center Luke Wypler from Ohio State-- I had him at 61 overall. They got him at 190. Something's not adding up there. So when you look at Andrew Berry going into this draft, not having a lot of picks because of the Deshaun Watson trade, that's a pretty impressive grade for the Cleveland Browns in a division that just seems to get tougher and tougher every single year.