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NFL draft: AFC North and other thoughts from night one

While the Browns sat out night one, the AFC North and a few other teams had a really interesting start to the NFL draft

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns, as expected, did not make a huge trade to get back into the first round of this year’s NFL draft. In order to get that done, the Browns would have had to give up a lot of their draft capital this year as well as at least one starting player.

A few other teams didn’t have a selection in night one of the NFL draft but the rest of the league stayed busy Thursday. A few big trades, a few interesting selections and a couple of surprises littered the draft.

We start looking at the first night of the NFL draft with the AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens

Getting a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson was just the start of the day for the Ravens. After adding Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency, Baltimore continued to add to their weapons with undersized WR Zay Flowers.

Flowers is an electric receiver with the ball in his hands and can be a threat deep as well as on screens, end arounds and reverses. With Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman, new offensive coordinator Todd Monken has a good set of weapons for his passing game.

The Ravens have generally been a defense and run-first team, very successful in those ways, so seeing the transition to a pass offense is interesting. Perhaps it takes them to the next level or it could be them going away from their strengths. Time will tell.

Cincinnati Bengals

With Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins up for new contracts in the next couple of years, the Bengals have to find a way to save some money somewhere. Drafting DE Myles Murphy could be in preparation to move on from either Trey Hendrickson and/or Sam Hubbard as a part of cost-cutting moves.

“Treadmilling talent” has long been Cincinnati’s game but becomes vital as their offense will become very expensive very soon.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The least exciting of the AFC North picks Thursday night, the Steelers may have made the most important selection. OT Broderick Jones is a vital piece of the puzzle for protecting QB Kenny Pickett and giving him a chance to succeed.

Jones is a physical marvel at the position but has a lot of refinement needed. He will get a baptism by fire in the AFC North. At least for 2023, Myles Garrett and company will be excited to try to take advantage of the rookie.

Philadelphia Eagles

Find a historically dominant college defense then draft the best players from that defense. Not a bad way to plan. One thing I love about the Eagles plan is that they really seem to try to double down on strengths instead of trying to be balanced. Extra receivers and extra defensive line is a strong way to do that.

Detroit Lions

Listen, I know Cleveland fans love the run and stopping the run but the NFL, as a whole, has made sure that those two things are not the most important. Obviously, you can’t be as bad as the Browns were against the run last year but using both of your first-round selections on less-than-valuable positions just seems like a team trying to bring back 1985 despite rule changes that won’t allow that to work. One of the picks, specifically for me Jack Campbell, would have been fine with a premium position/player selected with the other.

Houston Texans

Between you, me and our thousands of readers, the Texans are a mess. At a root level, based on a lot of public and private reports, CJ Stroud was the owners pick while the front office liked Will Levis better. Then, Houston traded very valuable picks to get a pass rusher to keep their new head coach happy. Not only that, they weren’t able to keep their selections and deal the ones they got from Cleveland. Just a mess of a round from an organizational perspective even if I believe Stround and Will Anderson were the right players to go in the top three.

New York Jets

Funny to me that Aaron Rodgers' new team didn’t draft him a weapon in the first round either. Will McDonald IV might be a good pass rusher but he is in the bottom third percentile in weight for an edge player historically.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

The start of receiver alley, four straight selected, I was very thankful to not see JSN go to Baltimore.

Day 2

With just the second and third rounds tonight, the Browns will get active pretty late unless a trade-up occurs. At this point, as noted yesterday, I don’t expect GM Andrew Berry to sit still with his picks with a couple of veterans as well as a move up well within reason. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on who those veterans are but know that he’s made calls.

A pick in the 60s and a quality, young veteran would be my guess for how tonight goes for Cleveland.