Day 2 of the NFL draft was an active one in the AFC North with a total nine prospects taken between the four teams. A couple of trades saw the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals re-position themselves in the 60s range, while the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers stood pat.
Here’s a roundup of all the action from Friday night in the division.
Pick No. 68 (via HOU): CB Martin Emerson, Mississippi St.
The Browns did not have a first-round pick on Thursday night. Then, they traded out of the second round, shipping their No. 44 pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for No. 68 and two fourth-rounders.
With their first pick of the draft, the Browns added to the secondary in taking Martin Emerson out of Mississippi State. Emerson has an enticing physical profile for a cornerback: he’s nearly 6-foot-2 with a 33-inch wingspan and ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash. He’ll need some refinement in technique but the athletic traits are clearly evident.
Cleveland has invested quite a few early-round picks in defensive backs in recent years, so Emerson represents a continued trend. He’ll join a crowded cornerback room featuring Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Greedy Williams and Troy Hill.
Pick No. 78: OLB Alex Wright, UAB
10 picks after taking a cornerback, the Browns added 6-foot-5 edge rusher Alex Wright out of UAB. Wright possesses great size and length and moves well for his size. His length and athleticism suggest he could be a disruptive presence both against the run and as a pass rusher right away.
Wright likely needs some more work as a technician in order for his athletic traits to translate fully into on-field impact, but he could be a potential replacement for Jadeveon Clowney if the Browns don’t re-sign him.
Pick No. 99: WR David Bell, Purdue
With the No. 99 pick in the draft, the Browns added wide receiver David Bell out of Purdue, continuing their offseason makeover of the position group. Bell won’t be expected to replace a Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham Jr., but this could prove to be a sneaky-good value selection for the Browns.
He doesn’t necessarily have blazing speed or verticality but possesses strong route-running and ball skills, which allowed him to be extremely productive in three years for the Boilermakers. Bell could see rotational snaps for the Browns early behind Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz.
Pick No. 45: OLB David Ojabo, Michigan
After not collecting an edge rusher on Day 1, the Ravens quickly addressed one of their biggest needs with the No. 45 pick. Michigan’s David Ojabo, long considered a surefire first-round pick, slid into the second round and the Ravens unsurprisingly scooped him up.
Ojabo’s slide can be attributed to him suffering a torn achilles on his pro day earlier this year. If not for that, the Ravens very well might have taken him at No. 14 overall. Ojabo thrived in Mike Macdonald’s Wolverines’ defense in 2021 and will now have the same defensive coordinator in the NFL.
His recovery timeline clouds just how much of a factor he’ll be in 2022, but his long-term outlook is high with a ton of pass-rushing talent and athleticism. Ojabo will also reunite with former high school teammate Odafe Oweh to form a promising edge rusher duo.
Pick No. 76: DL Travis Jones, Connecticut
After missing out on Jordan Davis in the first round, the Ravens waited until the third round to address the defensive line. They ended up with a Top-40 talent all the way at pick No. 76 in Connecticut's Travis Jones, who slid much further than most projections anticipated.
Jones is a versatile defensive lineman who can rush the passer, a skill set the Ravens need on the front-seven. He should factor into the team’s defensive lineman rotation right away and adds some youth and athleticism to an older group.
Pick No. 52: WR George Pickens, Georgia
One of Georgia’s abundance of players drafted, but one of the few on offense, is George Pickens, who slipped a bit to the Steelers at No. 52. Pickens is a dynamic athlete and plays with a high degree of tenacity and physicality.
He projects as a vertical field-stretcher who can make plays downfield. The Steelers have a knack for finding and developing talent at wide receiver, so Pickens could be an immediate contributor. He was arguably a first-round talent but slipped because of some off-field and character concerns.
Pick No. 84: DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal may have gone earlier if not for some questions related to his positional fit in the NFL. He’s an explosive athlete but doesn’t anchor incredibly well against the run. He split time in college playing at the 3-tech, 5-tech and 6-tech spots.
The Steelers have a track record of plugging and playing talent on the defensive line, so Leal may have landed in the best possible spot. He’s agile for his size will need to improve his strength to consistently shed blocks.
Pick No. 60 (via BUF): CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
The Bengals originally were slotted to pick at No. 63 but traded up three spots to take the Buffalo Bills’ 60th overall selection. In that spot, they took another defensive back in Cam Taylor-Britt out of Nebraska.
This comes after the Bengals’ drafted Daxton Hill at the end of the first round, so they’re going back-to-back with defensive backs out of the Big Ten. Britt is a bit undersized for an outside cornerback but plays with toughness and physicality.
He possesses good coverage skills and plays well against the run, also. Britt gives the Bengals’ another cornerback in the mix to complement Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple. They suddenly have pretty strong depth in the secondary.
Pick No. 95: DT Zachary Carter, Florida
With their second pick of Day 2, the Bengals selected a third-straight defensive player. This time, though, not a defensive back but instead a defensive lineman — Zachary Carter out of Florida.
Carter was a two-year starter for the Gators and racked up 7.5 sacks in 2021, as well as 11.5 tackles for loss. He projects as a defensive end/tackle hybrid and has some attractive strength and quickness. However, he needs more time to develop and iron out some concerns with technique and refinement.