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2020 NFL Draft: AFC North Grades for Round 1

Three up, three down

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the NFL draft has come and gone. In the AFC North, three of the four teams held selections last night, with the Steelers being the lone exception after trading their pick for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick during the 2019-20 season.

Between the Bengals, Browns and Ravens, each team opted to stand pat at their respective positions and went with fairly “chalk” in their selections. It was an SEC-heavy night for the division, as two LSU players and one Crimson Tide player are now joining the ranks.

Let’s break it down.

Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: No. 1

Selection: Joe Burrow, QB (LSU)

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Bengals used the first overall selection in this year’s draft to select QB Joe Burrow. Burrow is coming off maybe the best individual campaign from a quarterback ever in college football history.

The statistics and accolades speak for themselves:

Heisman Trophy? Check.

National Champion? Check.

5,676 passing yards and 60 passing touchdowns? Check and check.

The list goes on and on. Now, Burrow can add No. 1 overall pick to his resume.

Burrow has all the tools to be successful in the NFL. He’s extremely accurate both in the pocket and when on the move, has underrated mobility, adequate arm strength and high-level intangibles. Add all of these factors together and the Bengals are likely to have found their quarterback of the future and “face of the franchise”.

There isn’t much else to be said, frankly, and this is an easy selection to grade.

Grade: A+

Cleveland Browns

Pick: No. 10

Selection: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT (Alabama)

For the past several weeks, the Browns have been heavily linked to any of the top offensive tackle prospects: Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills Jr.

Any of them would have been suitable selections to fill the team’s biggest need but after Thomas was the only lineman selected in the first nine picks, Cleveland had their pick of the litter between Wills, Becton and Wirfs. They ultimately went with the former, who some considered the best overall prospect of the group.

Wills played almost exclusively on the right side of Alabama’s offensive line but figures to slot in at left tackle for the Browns. For Cleveland’s purposes, they’ll hope this transition is seamless but working in Wills favor is the fact that his quarterback in college, Tua Tagovailoa, was left-handed. Therefore, Wills wound up protecting the blind-side anyways.

Having already signed Jack Conklin in free agency, though, the Browns now have two natural right tackles instead of a pure right tackle and pure left tackle on both sides. The potential for this situation to unfold as murky exists, certainly, but other than that it’s hard to argue against the selection of a talented player who fills a glaring need.

Grade: B+

Baltimore Ravens

Pick: No. 28

Selection: Patrick Queen, LB (LSU)

After hours of anticipation, the Ravens wound up selecting the player that almost everyone believed they would all along - LSU’s Patrick Queen. There were a few instances in the early 20’s where it seemed like Queen was going to be taken off the board, specifically when the Saints were selecting at No. 24 and when the Packers traded up to 26th spot.

Queen to Baltimore truly became destiny when the Seahawks picked a linebacker one spot in front of the Ravens but it was Jordyn Brooks out of Texas Tech. Queen is now the first player out of LSU that the Ravens have ever drafted in their 25-year history, which is a pretty remarkable stat all things considered.

After Isaiah Simmons, Queen or Kenneth Murray were the consensus best linebacker prospects available and the Ravens were able to snag the former by standing pat and letting the board fall in their favor.

Queen is only 20 years old and has room to grow but he’ll step in as a Day 1 starter in the middle of “Wink” Martindale’s defense. He makes up for being slightly undersized with having a nose for the ball, coverage skills and sideline-to-sideline speed. Additionally, Queen is extremely smart and intelligent, especially for being such a young player.

Grade: A-