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Results Are In: AFC North Draft Grades
Take what you want from the Ravens’ draft grades below.
Let’s chat in 2015 when we’ve seen what impact this year’s batch of rookies has and then General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Co. can be better judged and graded.
“And anyone who pretends to know how these players will translate to the NFL in light of decades of history proving that it’s a crapshoot simply isn’t being realistic,” wrote PFT.com’s Mike Florio.
That doesn’t stop some analysts from taking a stab at it:
A+: Peter Schager; A: Adam Schein, FoxSports.com
Analysis: “It’s the Baltimore Ravens’ world and we’re living in it,” said Schein. “Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, they know how to handle a war room. They had four guys they wanted at the end of the first round all gone, so they trade out to the beginning of round No. 2, get an extra pick, and still get a guy with a first-round grade in Courtney Upshaw.”
A-: Vinnie Iyer, SportingNews.com
Analysis: “Upshaw has a chance to fill the big void of fellow former Alabama star Jarret Johnson, while Osemele was the powerful guard they needed.”
B+: Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com Analysis: “One thing about the Ravens is when they are done drafting you know that Ozzie Newsome will find good football players. They always seem to do so. Moving out of the first and landing Upshaw was a nice move. They added some nice third-day pieces as well.”
B: Chris Burke, SI.com
Analysis: “The Ravens traded down and still landed DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw (35), who may develop into the next feared defender in Baltimore. Guard Kelechi Osemele (60) and running back Bernard Pierce (84) filled needs well, making the Ravens’ reaches in [Round 4 and] Round 5 (Gino Gradkowski and Christian Thompson) more tolerable.”
B: John Czarnecki, FoxSports.com Analysis: “There is no doubt Baltimore General Manager Ozzie Newsome and his PR-conscious sidekick Eric DeCosta know how to draft. Their first three selections, none in the first round, reflected quality. Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw had tremendous value, but he’s not a replacement for Ray Lewis. Upshaw, who is excited about joining this defense, will be given a chance to replace Jarret Johnson, who jumped to the Chargers. … Iowa State guard Kelechi Osemele and Delaware guard Gino Gradkowski prove that Newsome wants to fix his offensive line. … Temple running back Bernard Pierce has the slashing style of Ray Rice, but he needs to work on his receiving skills.”
B: Mel Kiper, ESPN Analysis: “The Ravens had a great weekend. Any time you move out of the first round, still get a guy with first-round talent (Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw), and he happens to fill your biggest need, you’re happy.”
B:Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun Analysis: “As usual with the Ravens, there was a lot to like about their draft haul. To get Courtney Upshaw in the second round while also acquiring another pick was a huge coup. You can bet that there was a lot of head shaking going on around NFL war rooms that another potential impact defensive player had fallen into the Ravens’ laps. Bernard Pierce and Tommy Streeter also have a lot of athleticism and upside. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high, but I thought the Ravens would come out of the draft with an offensive lineman whom they could immediately pencil in as a starter, and a wide receiver who would immediately play a prominent role. I’m not sure you could say that about guard Kelechi Osmele, who some scouts feel has a lot of question marks, or about Streeter. Director of Player Development Eric DeCosta acknowledged that not everything broke the Ravens’ way, and I’d imagine part of the front office’s frustration stems from the fact that several of their top receiver targets didn’t make it to them. But overall, the Ravens filled a couple of needs and added plenty of depth, two of their established goals.”
B-minus: Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Analysis: “The Ravens deftly moved out of the first round after realizing one of the players they were targeting was going to slip into the second. … Upshaw will erase any doubts about his ability to transition from Alabama to the NFL when he makes an immediate impact for Baltimore. …. Of the Ravens’ later picks, watch out for Temple running back Bernard Pierce and Cal-Poly cornerback Asa Jackson to emerge as strong contributors in backup roles.”
AFC North Breakdown: Upshaw Is Steal Of Draft
Once considered a top-10 pick of the draft, Upshaw fell to the Ravens in the second round at No. 35 after Newsome traded out of the first.
The Ravens took a risk by moving back six spots and were “nervous” their former defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, might swoop in to nab Upshaw when the Colts were on the clock one spot ahead of Baltimore.
The Wizard of Oz got an additional fourth rounder out of the deal, which he used on center/guard Gino Gradkowski.
It was the best draft move of the AFC North and maybe even the best of the entire weekend, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
“Few teams manipulate the draft like the Baltimore Ravens,” wrote Hensley. “You have to applaud how the Ravens got a first-round talent in Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw when they were the only team in the division not to draft in the first round. It wasn’t just the best move in the AFC North. It was among the biggest steals of the draft. …
“Upshaw’s impact will be felt in two areas. He should take over the thankless job of setting the edge against the run that has long been handled by Jarret Johnson, who signed with San Diego in free agency. In passing situations, Upshaw will team with Terrell Suggs to give the Ravens their best edge rushers since they had Suggs and Peter Boulware.”
Here’s what pundits thought of the rest of the AFC North:
A-for Cincinnati Bengals: “The Bengals didn’t hit any home runs in value, but as we sat on the set, we’d nod to each other with every pick,” wrote Kiper. File It Away: “The only position of need the Cincinnati Bengals ignored in free agency was wide receiver,” wrote Hensley. “And the Bengals passed on taking a wide receiver early despite three picks in the first two rounds.”
B-for Cleveland Browns: “The Browns will get questions on value, but they had a plan and stuck to it,” Kiper wrote. “There were good wideouts available at No. 37, so that’s the pick I question the most.” Riskiest Move: “Taking a 28-year-old rookie quarterback [Brandon Weeden] ignited a lot of second-guessing,” wrote Hensley. “Cleveland had the chance to take Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff or Stanford guard David DeCastro at No. 22, or could have traded back into the second round to get Weeden. He has the physical tools and maturity to become a starter in the NFL. But taking him that high in the draft was a reach.”
B for Pittsburgh Steelers: “Pittsburgh got one of the total steals of the draft when Stanford guard David DeCastro fell all the way to No. 24,” wrote Kiper. “This was a fantastic draft in my opinion.” Most Surprising Move: “There was one move … that inspired a double take – drafting Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams in the second round,” wrote Hensley. “General Manager Kevin Colbert acknowledged that Adams was off Pittsburgh’s board after he failed a drug test at the NFL combine. The Steelers only considered him again after Adams met some stipulations, which included counseling.”
‘Stretch ‘Em Out Streeter’ A.K.A. ‘Touchdown Tommy’
Widely considered the most intriguing pick for the Baltimore Ravens was their sixth-round find of the tall (6-foot-5) and fast (4.40-second, 40-yard dash) Tommy Streeter.
The knock on Streeter is that he needs to run more precise routes and become consistent with his hands, says ESPN’s Todd McShay, but ooooh the upside for the Ravens’ low-risk investment with the 198th-overall pick.
Streeter picked up a few nicknames at the University of Miami, including “Stretch ‘Em Out Streeter” and “Touchdown Tommy.” I’m sure you can figure out why.
In the highlight video below, Streeter’s size and speed made him a red-zone threat and he could stretch the field. If he can translate those skills to the NFL, imagine putting him alongside Torrey Smith with a quarterback like Joe Flacco, who is one of the league’s best at throwing down field.
Streeter only produced big numbers during one season while at Miami, nothing 42 catches for 811 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. But the Ravens are hoping that was the beginning of his ascension.
“[Streeter] is still somewhat new to the position and appears ready to come into his own,” wrote McShay. “And in a scheme that likes to take shots down the field, Streeter won’t have to be a savvy route-runner right away. All he has to do early on is make a play here and there down the field, and if he develops the rest of the game, he’ll become a solid value as a sixth rounder.”
Tommy ‘Ball So Hard’ Highlights
Burfict Coming To AFC North
The questions about Vontaze Burfitct never stopped pouring in here at BaltimoreRavens.com.
Each time another round passed with the Arizona State linebacker still on the board, the cries for Baltimore to take a chance on him only got louder.
Burfict ended up landing in the AFC North, but not to the Ravens. The Bengals signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent yesterday.
Getting passed over 253 times sure didn’t bruise the linebacker’s ego, however, claiming Cincinnati got the biggest steal of the draft.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder was once an early popular first-round pick in mock drafts for the Ravens. Analysts projected him to become the heir apparent to Ray Lewis.
But after draftniks turned on the tape from his 2011 season and saw him regress, plus pick up a number of personal foul penalties, they started to change their minds. Add in a terrible combine performance on the field and with the media, and all 32 teams decided he wasn’t worth a draft pick.