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2020 NFL Draft: AFC North Grades for Day 2

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Ohio State vs Clemson Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After an eventful first-round of action on Thursday night, the draft continued to heat up even further with a jam-packed Day 2. In the AFC North, there were three trades and a total of 12 drafted players across both Rounds 2 & 3.

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get into the grades.

Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Round 2, No. 33

Selection: Tee Higgins, WR (Clemson)

With the first pick of Day 2, the Bengals wasted no time giving Joe Burrow an additional offensive weapon to work with. Cincinnati could have gone a number of different directions but opted to select one of the top wideouts available in Tee Higgins from Clemson.

Higgins is a big-play threat and improved statistically in each of his three collegiate seasons. In 2019, Higgins caught 59 passes for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns after catching 12 touchdowns the year prior.

With a frame of 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs, Higgins fits the profile of a prototypical “X” receiver who can make contested catches and serve as a potent scoring threat in the red zone. Higgins lacks elite speed and agility but has demonstrated the ability to rip off big gains after the catch and make plays in space.

Good player and solid value, but the positional value here brings the grade down slightly.

The Bengals already have a talented trio of A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Boyd and while the former two are injury prone, Cincinnati has quite a few needs to address and wide receiver wasn’t necessarily one of them. At least not at the top of the second round.

Grade: B

Pick: Round 3, No. 65

Selection: Logan Wilson, LB (Wyoming)

Addressing one of their biggest needs at inside linebacker, the Bengals selected Logan Wilson with the 65th overall pick. Wilson, a four-year starter at Wyoming, was widely considered to be one of the top linebackers in the second tier of this year’s class.

Wilson was highly productive at the small-school collegiate level and projects as a solid two-down linebacker at the NFL, with the upside to grow into more. He’s on the older side for a rookie, though, as he’ll turn 24 years of age this summer.

Wilson possesses a high-level intangibles and instincts, which comes as no surprise given his extensive playing experience. He’s a hard-nosed run defender and demonstrated the ability to blitz effectively, too.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Browns

Pick: Round 2, No. 44 (TRADE)

Selection: Grant Delpit, S (LSU)

Originally possessing the 41st overall selection, the Browns agreed to a trade with the Colts that saw them move down three slots and pick up the 160th overall pick in the process.

With pick No. 44, the Browns drafted DB Grant Delpit out of LSU. Delpit was projected by many to be a first-round pick but slid into Cleveland’s lap in the second, much like LSU CB Greedy Williams in the 2019 draft.

Delpit needs to clean up some tackling issues but possesses terrific playmaking ability in the backend. He’s a legitimate ballhawker who can roam and occupy the single-high safety role of a secondary. Delpit was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018 and won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019, which is annually given to the nation’s top defensive back.

It’s hard to figure out why he slid this far, quite frankly. Trading back three spots and still getting a great player at great value is a win for GM Andrew Berry and HC Kevin Stefanski.

Grade: A

Pick: Round 3, No. 88 (TRADE)

Selection: Jordan Elliott, DT (Missouri)

After trading picks No. 74 and No. 244 to the Saints, the Browns moved down 14 spots in the third round and acquired a 2021 third-round pick in the process.

With the 88th overall pick, the Browns took DT Jordan Elliott out of Missouri. Elliott was one of the best players available at this spot but also gives the Browns some much-needed juice along their defensive front.

Elliott is a classic high-ceiling, low-floor prospect but produced good film against high-level competition in the SEC. He possesses solid pass-rushing moves and has a high motor, which he uses frequently to chase down ball-carriers and cover space.

Grade: B+

Pick: Round 3, No. 97

Selection: Jacob Phillips, LB (LSU)

Continuing with the SEC-heavy theme for the AFC North, the Browns selected their second player from LSU by taking LB Jacob Phillips out of LSU. It’s the second LSU prospect they drafted on Day 2 but compared to Delipt, Phillips is much more of a boom-or-bust player.

Phillips’ athletic profile is impressive: 6-foot-3, 229 Ibs and ran the 40-yard dash at a clip of 4.66 seconds. On tape, he’s flashed with the ability to roam, chase and close on the ball in coverage, much like his former teammate Patrick Queen.

However, at the same time, he’s fairly raw. Phillips suffered lapses in recognition and awareness numerous times this past season but was aided by a large amount of talent around him on LSU’s defense. He’ll need refinement, coaching and development in order to play a significant role for the Browns in 2020, but could potentially emerge as a rotational linebacker and valuable special teams contributor.

Lots of potential with this player but in drafting Phillips, the Browns passed on the much more NFL-ready Malik Harrison.

Grade: C+

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Round 2, No. 49

Selection: Chase Claypool, WR (Notre Dame)

With their first pick of the draft and only selection in the Top-100, the Steelers added to their pass-catching core with Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool.

Claypool is an athletic marvel. Standing at 6-foot-4, Claypool’s physical qualities resemble that of a tight end but he ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. He broke through in his senior season, catching 13 touchdowns and posting over 1,000 receiving yards.

Despite an impressive 40-yard time, Claypool doesn’t necessarily run as fast on tape as his measured speed would suggest. He could struggle to separate at the next level, which would be the concern with this pick, but at the very least Claypool adds a different element to Pittsburgh’s receiving core.

We know the Steelers love drafting wide receivers and have seemingly put all of their eggs in the Ben Roethlisberger basket - which is a risk in and of its own right - so this pick shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

Grade: B-

Pick: Round 3, No. 102

Selection: Alex Highsmith, OLB (Charlotte)

Near the end of the third round, the Steelers used their second overall pick on Alex Highsmith out of Charlotte. Highsmith is a talented edge-rusher who improved throughout his four-year collegiate career and dominated small-school competition in 2019.

He transitioned from linebacker to pass-rusher and racked up 75 tackles, 21.5 TFL and 15 sacks, an impressive range of statistical production. Highsmith is fast, slippery and demonstrated high-level processing on tape.

The caveat here, though, is that he lacks experience against NFL-caliber talent. So, while his tape is impressive, how much his production translates to the next level is a big question and remains to be seen.

Grade: C+

Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Round 2, No. 55

Selection: J.K. Dobbins, RB (Ohio St.)

In what came as a surprise to many, the Ravens opted to strengthen their rushing attack even further with the 55th pick - selecting RB J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State.

Dobbins was extremely productive for the Buckeyes and possesses all the tools to be a successful all-around running back in the NFL. He’s more of a between-the-tackles runner but is agile and fluid at the same time, while also demonstrating strong pass-catching and pass protection ability. Dobbins produced over 2,000 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns in 2019, which is obviously impressive production.

The issue here isn’t the talent of the player, but more so the value and fit. Dobbins is an awesome prospect but the Ravens are already three-deep at halfback with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. In the short-term, Dobbins isn’t likely to cement a substantial role in the backfield unless either Edwards or Hill is cut loose before the season.

This selection is surely going to, and already has caused a polarizing stir among the fanbase. Where you fall in line on the of value of running backs and the “best player available” drafting strategy will ultimately influence your opinion of the Dobbins pick.

Grade: C+ or B-

Pick: Round 3, No. 71 (TRADE)

Selection: Justin Madubuike, DT (Texas A&M)

After originally possessing the 60th overall pick, the Ravens and Patriots agreed to a trade that saw Baltimore move down 11 spots and acquire an additional third-round pick, among other details.

At pick No. 71, they stuck with the BPA theme and nabbed DT Justin Madubuike out of Texas A&M. Madubuike is slightly undersized for a traditional defensive tackle but flashes with explosiveness, fluidity and technique.

In the short-term, the Ravens don’t necessarily need a defensive lineman with Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derrick Wolfe penciled-in as starters on the front seven. However, all three players are on the wrong side of 30 years old and the Ravens lack youth at the position.

Madubuike has higher upside than his soon-to-be Texas A&M counterpart, Daylon Mack, both in the short-term and long-term. Taking a sliding prospect like OT Josh Jones or LB Zack Baun with this pick would have been suitable, too, but Madubuike is solid.

Grade: B+

Pick: Round 3, No. 92

Selection: Devin Duvernay, WR (Texas)

After seeing almost all of the top receivers fly off the board early, the Ravens finally added some pass-catching juice with this pick. Devin Duvernay is a heck of a consolation prize for missing out on the likes of Michael Pittman and Denzel Mims.

A former track athlete, the 5-foot-10 dynamo possesses a great combination of deep speed, agility and shiftiness in space. His potentness as a YAC threat makes him a great fit in Greg Roman’s offense, as the Ravens can line up him up almost anywhere on the field.

Furthermore, Duvernay had maybe the best hands in all of college football last year. Good player and good value, which equates to a high grade.

Grade: A-

Pick: Round 3, No. 98

Selection: Malik Harrison, LB (Ohio State)

With the 98th overall selection, which they acquired from the Patriots, the Ravens landed LB Malik Harrison out of Ohio State. Bias aside, this may be the biggest steal of the draft so far.

Harrison was viewed by most as a surefire second-round pick, while some even graded him as a borderline first-round talent. Regardless of where you think he should have projected, Harrison was one of the top second-tier linebacker prospects in this draft.

If the Ravens had picked him at No. 55, it would have been good value . . . but drafting him all the way at No. 98 is almost unthinkable. Harrison is a legitimate “thumper” with underrated and impressive coverage ability. He’s a strong tackler and big-time hitter, consistently using power and length to make plays in space.

Doubling-dipping at linebacker is surprising but ideal given how the board played out.

Grade: A

Pick: Round 3, No, 106

Selection: Tyre Phillips, OL (Mississippi St.)

The de-facto “Mr. Irrelevant” of Day 2 was OL Tyre Phillips, who the Ravens selected with the 106th overall pick and final selection of the night. Baltimore needed to address the interior offensive line spot and did so here, but Phillips is far from a Marshal Yanda replacement.

Phillips is a natural tackle but the Ravens figure to kick him inside at guard, where his athletic ability should allow for a seamless transition. Other than being versatile, though, Phillips is an unknown.

He has length but appears to struggle with being overpowered at times. Phillips will certainly need some coaching and refinement moving forward but figures to compete for the starting RG spot in the short-term, while also serving as a valuable swingman.

It’s difficult to grade him highly, though, given there’s so many question marks.

Grade: C+