The draft has been over for a month.
Fans outside the AFC North have undoubtedly forgotten who their teams drafted, but here, we stay vigilant. We pore over the rafts of war room and draft details that led to various selections. We analyze remaining team needs and speculate why they exist. We invariably project the best-case scenarios for our team’s picks and their careers, because the AFC North has never missed on a draft pick.
Each day this week, we’ll look at an AFC North team’s draft. Let’s start with the…
Kudos to recently-promoted general manager Eric DeCosta, who used his draft position and picks in much the same manner as mentor Ozzie Newsome once did, albeit with quite different targets. The Ravens surprised many by trading down in the first round and eventually selecting wide receiver Marquise Brown from Oklahoma, whose exceptional speed and diminutive frame has fomented volumes of debate: Can he hold up to the pounding of an NFL schedule? Can he be counted on as an every-down receiver, or will his height restriction relegate him to the slot? Can he block effectively? Barring free agent additions, the Ravens, whose history of drafting wideouts early is spotty at best, shouldn’t have to wait long to find out, as Brown’s skills necessitate their starting him Week 1. Of major interest will be Brown’s chemistry with second-year quarterback/passing project Lamar Jackson, whose suspect throwing skills may hinder Brown’s development or force Jackson to be more accurate.
With no pick in the second round, the third round yielded edge rusher Jaylen Ferguson from Louisiana Tech, presumably to replace long-time holdover and franchise cornerstone Terrell Suggs, although a committee approach is expected. Ferguson, by all reports, will most likely be able to match Suggs’ recent on-field production, but the leadership void in the locker room and in the huddle will prove difficult to fill. Having lost several prominent leaders since their improbable Super Bowl run in 2012, who knows?
3. Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame – size/speed combination could prove interesting.
4. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State – health may be an issue, but speed certainly isn’t
5. Iman Marshall, CB, USC – solid build/speed combination, but has to make a case in a crowded defensive backfield
6. Ben Powers, G, Oklahoma – much needed OL depth; could challenge for a starting in in another year or two
7. Daylen Mack, DT, Texas A&M – interesting flier on a good player, although not at a need position
8. Trace McSorely, QB, Penn State – okay…
Tomorrow, we’re on to Cleveland.