The NFL Draft never fails to turn into complete chaos. After months of predicting which team will take which player, somehow every mock draft get ripped up after the first couple of picks. Through this chaos the Browns ended up with a king's ransom in draft picks, the Ravens end up taking the first offensive tackle on the board (but possibly not the best one), and the Steelers were caught off guard after a player they coveted was claimed by Cincinnati right before them.
Going into the draft, it was expected the Ravens could end up with one of several top tier players depending on who fell to them. If not for Laremy Tunsil's debacle with a gas mask, they could have ended up with the top offensive linemen in the draft after the Chargers unexpectedly took Joey Bosa, with the top pass rusher gone, and after the Cowboys took Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick, they were left with a tough decision. Baltimore could take a chance on Tunsil or go with the safe pick in Ronnie Stanley out of Notre Dame.
The Ravens eventually settled on Stanley who will likely come in and start at right tackle. Stanley will fill a position that has become almost as important as left tackle, given that many teams are starting to put their best pass rusher up against the right tackle. It will remain to be seen if Stanley will out play Tunsil, who ended falling to the Dolphins at 13, but it is hard to say the Ravens made the wrong choice given the circumstances.
It came out late night during the first round that the Ravens tried to move up during the draft, and their target was Jalen Ramsey who went to the Jaguars. Vasilis Lericos of Baltimore Beatdown explained the series of events:
Apparently the Ravens offered their first round pick, #6, and a fourth rounder but balked when the Cowboys requested a third rounder instead.
That was quite a bit to give up, but clearly the Ravens were more comfortable staying put and seeing who fell to them than paying too much to move up two spots.
Ramsey would've been an instant upgrade to the secondary that desperately needs someone next to Jimmy Smith. The NFL is becoming a league where you need at least two good corners and maybe even three just to be safe, but Ramsey provides more than most corners in this draft. He has the ability to cover potential mismatch nightmares like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and especially Tyler Eifert due to his size and speed combination. While the Ravens lost out on acquiring that luxury they still end up upgrading a position that needed to be addressed.
The Browns traded out of the second overall pick before the draft moving back to the eighth spot. On Thursday night they moved back again so the team that traded away the first overall pick could move back into the top 10 and select Jack Conklin. Cleveland moved back to the 15th pick gaining one of the Titans' third round picks (76th overall) and second round pick next season. The Browns also sent a sixth round pick to Tennessee.
When the Browns were put on the clock again they decided to stay put and draft Corey Coleman, a wide receiver out of Baylor, who reportedly was high on the Bengals' draft board. This may have disappointed a few Bengals fans hoping he could fall to 24th overall pick, but Coleman replaces the loss of Travis Benjamin, who left for San Diego in free agency. Coleman may need to clean up his routes a little, but there is no doubt Hue Jackson will have no trouble manufacturing touches for this play maker who had 20 touchdowns during his final season at Baylor.
The Browns finished the night boasting a plethora of draft picks for next season as well. So far the Browns now have an extra first, second, and third round pick in next year's draft. While the new regime is following in the footsteps of those who came before them by acquiring multiple early round selections, they hope to set themselves apart by actually drafting players who will contribute to their team.
The Browns don't seem to be done trading as there are already several reports that they are open for business if a team is interested in the first pick on day two of the draft, but they will eventually take someone on the second day. The Browns came into the draft with probably more needs than any team in the NFL, so they shouldn't panic and move up to fill a specific one, but there are several players who made their way into the second round that are more than a little surprising, and several others who provide good value for where the Browns will be selecting.
The first name that pops up is Myles Jack, who fell all the way out of the first round after concerns about his knee, but Cleveland may not want to take that risk despite the possible payoff. There are still two very talented pass rushers on the board in Noah Spence and Kevin Dodd. Either could instantly upgrade the Browns' poor excuse of a pass rushing unit that has provided more disappointment than pressure. Cleveland could also continue the run on Buckeyes by replacing Tashaun Gipson with Vonn Bell at safety. Offensively the Browns could address the loss of Mitchell Schwartz with offensive tackle, Jason Springs, or continue to add talented wideouts with Michael Thomas out of Ohio State.
It was almost a dream for Pittsburgh. It was no secret to anyone that the Steelers needed to add a corner after losing several contributors during free agency, and one of the most coveted prospects, William Jackson III, was falling right to them at 25. But the Bengals turned that dream into a Nightmare when they selected the defensive back the pick right before the Steelers'. Instead, the Steelers went with who they feel was the next best corner in Artie Burns out of Miami (Florida) who doesn't have the instant impact capability that Jackson has. Burns is more of a project corner who ideally would've had a year or two before being relied upon. Instead, Burns goes to a situation where he will likely start out of necessity for Pittsburgh.
This draft isn't exactly deep when it comes to the cornerback position, but the value clearly wasn't here with this pick. Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus ranked it as the fifth worst draft pick in the first round saying "Pittsburgh left itself with such a desperate need at cornerback that a reach in the draft was unfortunately inevitable. Burns’ tape doesn’t do much to suggest he is worth a first-round pick. He had six interceptions last season at Miami, but it wasn’t necessarily indicative of a high level of performance. Burns graded out right around average, and what’s most concerning was his lack of feel in zone coverage. The Steelers played zone at one of the highest rates in the NFL last season."
Not only did the Steelers have to reach for a Burns, but he doesn't even fit what they do best. Still, the Steelers have had a habit of developing players, so it really is too early to tell, but all signs point to this being a potential misfire by Pittsburgh.
The Steelers attempted to fill their biggest need in the first round, but they are far from finished. They still need to address the middle of their defensive line, safety, and add more depth at wide receiver after Martavis Bryant's suspension. The second day could be more kind considering they could acquire a player with good value if the right prospect fall to them. At safety players like T.J. Green from Clemson, Vonn Bell of Ohio State, and Darian Thompson from Boise State still remain on the board and can come in right away to contribute. Defensive line is even deeper with Andrew Billing of Baylor who is simply a freak of nature at nose tackle. And, a couple of Alabama defensive tackles in A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed fell out of the first, though it's unlikely they tumble to the second half of Round 2. Receiver isn't the biggest need, but if the Steelers get a good enough value with a player like Braxton Miller or Tyler Boyd staring them down, they could easily pull the trigger.