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Dixon | 2017 NFL Draft AFC North Short Takes

JAN 28 Senior Bowl
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire

NFL Draft

Dixon | 2017 NFL Draft AFC North Short Takes

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers, reigning AFC North champions, can never have enough pass rushing Linebackers. Naturally, their 1st round selection fits that need, as they selected outside linebacker TJ Watt. I think it’s a great fit for Watt; he embodies the team’s culture of working hard to create a gritty defense. His athleticism is obvious but at this point he is a developmental player that will need to continue to learn the nuances of the position.

In the 2nd round, the Steelers selected wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster to be opposite of Antonio Brown if Martavis Bryant is suspended again or Sammie Coates fails to produce. Smith-Schuster is a big body WR that has strong hands but on film I saw laziness, an inability to separate in route running and low football IQ during critical game situations.

In the 3rd round Pittsburgh selected defensive back Cameron Sutton and running back James Conner. During the Senior Bowl, I was impressed with Sutton’s drive on the ball and hip fluidity to adjust and change of direction. His game film did not show the same competitiveness and route reaction quickness, however.

James Conner is a brawler style running back who will fit nicely with the team’s culture of winning by any means necessary. With Le’veon Bell as the #1 RB, they can let Conner develop and contribute as a rotational player who stays ready in case Bell gets hurt.

The Steelers drafted Joshua Dobbs in the 4th round because he has good size and the book smarts that could win games if Roethlisberger is hurt. Unfortunately, his college film did not show that his book smarts could translate to reading the defense during the heat of the moment.

Baltimore Ravens

Based on their first four picks, the Ravens want to get back to having the most feared defense in the NFL. This direction will get them back into contention in the AFC North. They chose defensive back Marlon Humphrey with their first-round pick; he was a long-time starter at Alabama that can immediately understand the complexities of an NFL defense. He doesn’t have the elite athleticism but makes up for that with toughness, technique, and football IQ.

The Ravens selected linebacker Tyus Bowser in the 2nd round because he is diverse. He can either rush the passer or drop in coverage, which allows the defensive coordinator to move him all over the field and create mismatches. Their selections in the 3rd round of defensive end Chris Wormley and Tim Williams are inverse of each other; meaning the defensive coordinator will insert them respectively into the game depending on the situation. Wormley has limitations as a pass rusher but has the strength to hold the edge against the run. Tim Williams specializes in rushing the passer.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals had a good number of picks in this draft and as usual the players they chose are high risk, high reward prospects. Their key selection: John Ross at 9th overall who is an explosive play maker. If he can stay healthy, he will compliment AJ Green nicely.

In the 2nd round they selected running back Joe Mixon, who is another explosive talent that can carry the load up the middle and catch out of the backfield. However, he has a long road ahead of him to recover his image after hitting a woman.

In the 3rd round they selected outside linebacker Jordan Willis who burst on to the national stage after the Senior Bowl and a strong NFL Combine performance. Film shows that he is at risk to become just another pass rusher if he does not improve his stiffness when rushing around the edge.

I love the 4th round pick of defensive end Carl Lawson because he has a quick twitch when he attacks the edge. Lawson will immediately put constant pressure on the QB. With that said, his medical history is sketchy. Also in the 4th round, they chose wide receiver Josh Malone who has the speed to stretch the field vertically but for some reason did not reach his full potential in college. It remains to be seen if the Bengals can unleash his full talent.

With their last 4th round selection, they chose Ryan Glasgow whose role in the NFL will be limited to a run stopper. This class has the potential to be great or it can go badly if key players do not stay on the field and produce. If they want to be relevant in the AFC North, they’ll need the former.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns were another team this draft that had a slew of picks, which look to get them out of the AFC North basement. They started by taking the sure pick of Myles Garret #1 overall. He will step in right away, changing the face of the defense.

Staying in the 1st round they added another high-profile player in safety Jabrill Peppers. He will step onto the field with the confidence to change the losing ways of Cleveland. However, Peppers is a few years away from reaching his full potential as a cover safety.

The Browns traded back up late into the 1st round to select tight end David Njoku because he is naturally athletic and has just scratched the surface of his potential.

In the 2nd round, the Browns decided to take a chance on QB Deshone Kizer; who compares to Jameis Winston. I do not sense the leadership intangibles nor accuracy that will enable him to turn around the Browns’ fortunes. In the 3rd round Cleveland selected defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi because his quickness off the snap. His ability to create pressure on the quarterback will be a nice compliment to Myles Garrett. However, Cleveland is not the place for a player that has questionable effort because if they begin to lose, his effort will diminish greatly.

In the 4th round they selected defensive back Howard Wilson because defensive backs were a great need for the team. Wilson could immediately start opposite of Joe Haden or as a nickel DB.

In the 5th round, the Browns selected an athletic offensive tackle in Roderick Johnson who will need a few years to improve his technique.  In the 6th round, they stole defensive tackle Caleb Brantley because of looming off the field issues but Brantley also has an opportunity to contribute right away because he has quickness and hip fluidity when rushing the passer.

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Roger Dixon Jr

Roger is a native of Orlando, FL. After excelling in DII football his first 2 seasons, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing on the Florida Gators football team, where he was named Special Teams Player of the Year and Team Captain. He earned his degree in Economics from UF's Warrington College of Business. Roger brings a passion for football and unique perspective of what it takes to be successful in football at the highest level.

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