An eventful Day 1 and Day 2 gave way to another exciting slate of action on Saturday, with each AFC North squad making numerous selections in Rounds 4-7.
Pick: Round 4, No. 107
Selection: Akeem Davis-Gaithers, LB (Appalachian St.)
With their fourth-round selection, the Bengals double-dipped at the linebacker position by taking Appalachian State’s Akeem-Davis Gaithers. This is great value for one of the best players on the board and gives the Bengals a solid rookie duo at inside linebacker.
Davis-Gaithers plays fast, aggressive and can line up in multiple places on the field. In many ways, he’s like a small-school version of Isaiah Simmons in this draft class. Like Wilson, his lack of experience against high-level competition is a slight concern but “ADG” might actually be the better of the two prospects, and the Bengals were able to wait and land him.
Pick: Round 5, No. 107
Selection: Khalid Kareem, EDGE (Notre Dame)
The Bengals continued adding talent to their defense in the fifth round, this time selecting Khalid Kareem out of Notre Dame. Kareem has an NFL-ready frame and plays with an impressive combination of power and motor.
His size and strength helps compensate for a lack of athleticism, although the latter is concerning for his prospects as a pro. Kareem is stiff and needs to develop more counter moves, as the bull-rush is his only go-to option when rushing the passer.
However, landing him here in the fifth round is good value.
Pick: Round 6, No. 180
Selection: Hakeem Adeniji, OT (Kansas)
The Bengals circled back to offense after addressing the defense with three consecutive picks, this time selecting OT Hakeem Adeniji out of Kansas.
Adeniji is a physical specimen and started 48 consecutive games for the Jayhawks, an impressive display of durability and consistency. He has a high motor and plays with toughness and grittiness. Additionally, Adeniji displayed good hand placement and leverage on tape.
The knocks against him are his lack of lateral movement and fluidity. He’s often too stiff in his movements and needs refinement.
Pick: Round 7, No. 215
Selection: Markus Bailey, LB (Purdue)
The Bengals concluded their draft by adding yet another inside linebacker, this time in the form of Purdue’s Markus Bailey. Bailey is coming off a torn ACL that cut his senior season short with the Boilermakers.
He’s solid in coverage and plays with a high motor, but his athletic limitations are concerning.
They already have an extremely crowded linebacker room featuring Josh Bynes, Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gathers and now Bailey. Because of this, Bailey will have to truly claw his way into playing meaningful snaps next season.
Pick: Round 4, No. 115
Selection: Harrison Bryant, TE (Florida Atlantic)
The Browns nabbed one of the top tight end prospects available in the fourth round, selecting Harrison Bryant out of Florida Atlantic. Bryant won the Mackey Award this past season after catching 65 passes for over 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
He’s a capable blocker and dangerous in the open field, showcasing solid athleticism on tape. Cleveland now has a loaded tight end room with David Njoku and Austin Hooper also in the fold at the position.
Pick: Round 5, No. 160
Selection: Nick Harris, C (Washington)
Cleveland takes another offensive lineman here in the fifth round, Nick Harris, after using the 10th overall pick on Jedrick Wills Jr. Harris played right guard, left guard and center during his time at Washington, making him a versatile prospect.
Furthermore, he has active hands, uses good leverage and is fluid in space. Harris is a bit underdeveloped physically, though, and needs to add more strength, power and refinement before he can emerge as a legitimate starting option.
Still, he has high upside.
Pick: Round 6, No. 187
Selection: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR (Michigan)
The Browns dipped into the wide receiver waters in the sixth round, nabbing a sliding prospect in Donovan Peoples-Jones out of Michigan.
Peoples-Jones has the raw talent and athletic ability of a much higher selection. His physical profile is impressive at 6-foot-2 with speed, agility and vertical leaping skills. At the combine, he recorded a 44.5-inch vertical jump.
Why did he slide this far, then? The measurables don’t necessarily reflect the on-field product, in his case. Peoples-Jones was somewhat underwhelming at Michigan and struggled with drops. There are concerns with his aggressiveness and motor, as he failed to come up big in high-stakes games.
If his mental skills catch up to his physical abilities, the Browns could end up having a steal on their hands.
Pick: Round 4, No. 124
Selection: Anthony McFarland, RB (Maryland)
With their third pick of the draft, the Steelers pulled from the remaining running back pool and selected Maryland’s Anthony McFarland.
McFarland is a big-play waiting to happen and possesses lighting speed and explosiveness in the open field. The Steelers drafted Benny Snell Jr. around this time last year but their starting running back, James Conner, can’t ever seem to stay on the field. Unfortunately, McFarland also has some injury history to his name and struggles with durability.
There’s also some potential character concerns with McFarland, too. Between Conner, Snell, Jaylen Samuels and now McFarland, the Steelers have an interesting halfback room.
Pick: Round 4, No. 135
Selection: Kevin Dotson, G (Louisiana)
Sticking with the offensive theme, the Steelers added OL Kevin Dotson with their additional fourth round selection. Dotson, a four-year starter at Louisiana, was surprisingly not invited to the scouting combine this year but has some legitimate upside.
He shows good leverage and power on tape, plays extremely aggressive and is strong in pass protection. At the same time, his lack of athleticism can be troublesome against speed rushers and he plays a bit stiff.
Needs development but Dotson has long-term upside as a potential starter.
Pick: Round 6, No. 198
Selection: Antoine Brooks Jr., S (Maryland)
The Steelers dip into the Maryland pool once again, this time selecting DB Antoine Brooks Jr. in the sixth round.
Brooks is the prototypical “box safety” who is best when roaming near the line of scrimmage, chasing ball-carriers and blitzing. He’s more of a linebacker than that of a ballhawk deep in the secondary and has drawn comparisons to Tony Jefferson.
If Pittsburgh assigns him with coverage responsibilities in the backend, Brooks will likely struggle but he should carve out a role as a hard-hitting presence. Additionally, he profiles as a potential special teams ace.
Pick: Round 7, No. 232
Selection: Carlos Davis, DT (Nebraska)
Bringing up the rear of the Steelers draft is Carlos Davis, a defensive tackle out of Nebraska who they selected with the 232nd overall pick.
Davis was a disruptive force on the Huskers’ defensive line over the past four seasons and his size/strength figures to translate to the NFL. However, there’s quite a bit of room for growth and development with this prospect.
Davis has subpar arm length and lateral movement. He struggles with gaining leverage making quick movements at the point of attack.
Pick: Round 4, No. 143
Selection: Ben Bredeson, OG (Michigan)
Just one selection after taking Tyre Phillips, the Ravens opted to double-dip along the offensive line and selected Michigan’s Ben Bredeson.
Bredeson started at guard for Jim Harbaugh in four consecutive seasons and displayed qualities that will translate to the NFL: technique, consistency and fluidity, among others. He’s a solid scheme fit and possesses the pedigree that the Ravens need at the position with Marshal Yanda no longer in the mix.
Pick: Round 5, No. 170
Selection: Broderick Washington, DL (Texas Tech)
With their fifth-round selection, the Ravens double-dipped once again, this time on the defensive line with Broderick Washington out of Texas Tech.
Washington is a fine player and adds to a crowded defensive tackle room in Baltimore featuring Daylon Mack, Justin Madubuike, Justin Ellis and now Washington, all of whom will be competing for a roster spot and snaps behind the projected starters.
Surprising not to see Eric DeCosta add an edge-rusher or another playmaker at wide receiver, which were far more pressing needs.
Pick: Round 6, No. 201 —— TRADE
Selection: James Proche, WR (SMU)
Eric DeCosta had one final trick up his sleeve, trading up into the sixth round to select WR James Proche with the 201st overall pick. Proche is a great value pick this far into the draft and fills the team’s need for an additional playmaker at receiver.
Proche played four seasons at SMU and produced an insane rate. His career totals of 39 receiving touchdowns, 301 receptions and nearly 4,000 receiving yards reflect a player who plays hard, fast and catches almost everything thrown his way.
He’s slightly undersized but can be moved around and profiles as a solid complementary pass-catcher in Greg Roman’s offense. Furthermore, he’s a capable return man.
Pick: Round 7, No. 219
Selection: Geno Stone, S (Iowa)
With the pick they acquired from Minnesota, the Ravens conclude their draft by selecting Geno Stone out of Iowa. Stone had mid-round value to many and landing him here in the seventh frame is a steal, no doubt.
Stone’s athletic testing at the combine left much to be desired but looking past that, he brings numerous qualities to the table: intangibles, instincts, range and pedigree. Stone is a hard-nosed player and fills a need for depth behind Earl Thomas III.
He has the range and upside to play the single-high safety role and move around the backend of the defense.