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Around the AFC North: Ravens and Browns add difference makers

The Browns now have a left tackle of the future, and the Ravens ripped out a few Bengals’ hearts with their pick. The Steelers will also eventually pick someone.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The first round is finished, and it is easy to say that (most) of the AFC North came out better teams. Each team — aside from one — added a potential cornerstone for their team. We will take a look at who the teams drafted, and what we should expect to see from them on Day 2 of the draft.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens made one of the picks that upset Bengals’ fans the most when they swiped up LSU linebacker Patrick Queen late in the first round. Of course, Cincinnati still has some nice options, but this was kind of a double whammy. Baltimore never really filled the void left by C.J. Mosely last offseason, and Queen figures to be a natural fit in that hole.

Queen has all the makings to be exactly what teams are looking for in a linebacker in the modern NFL. He has all the athletic ability to run from sideline-to-sideline, fill gaps quickly and close passing windows quickly. One of the biggest knocks on Queen was his lack of experience. He was only a one-year starter at LSU, but he has all the tools to reach his potential.

The Ravens will still be looking for a replacement for offensive guard Marshal Yanda, and they also need some real help at pass rusher. They did a good job at adding players like Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, but those guys aren’t going to put the necessary pressure on the quarterback.

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland stuck with the easy decision of drafting Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills. Easily one of the top tackles in this draft, Wills will step in and start at either tackle spot for a very long time. Combine that with signing Jack Conklin as a free agent, and Cleveland has solidified their tackle positions.

The remaining needs include safety, linebacker and defensive line. Safety may be the position they address first with three very talented names — Xavier McKinney, Grant Delpit and Antoine Winfield Jr. — left on the board. It may just be a matter of who reaches their pick at 41.

The Browns are also a team to watch for jumping in front of Cincinnati prior to the start of the third round. It will be very obvious that the Bengals will need to add a linebacker at some point in this draft, and if there is one falling at the end of the second, getting in front of Cincinnati will be a necessity. The Browns lost Josh Schobert in free agency, and that leaves a huge hole next to Mack Wilson that needs filled.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers traded away their first round pick to the Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick during the 2019 season. Turns out that may have been a good move to make if you don’t count in having to pay him sooner than whatever rookie they could’ve drafted.

Pittsburgh’s only top 100 pick comes at 49 overall, and they have several routes they could go. They lost defensive lineman Javon Hargrave in free agency, and they were only able to franchise tag Bud Dupree. They’ll need plenty of help in that front seven with those two positions looking like needs in the next few seasons. Also, their offensive tackle are set to hit free agency next season as well, so potentially grooming someone to take over for one of them could be seriously considered.

It may also be hard for them to pass up adding a quarterback of the future like Jalen Hurts or Jacob Eason after Mason Rudolph looked like a flop last season. The clock is ticking on the Ben Roethlisberger era, and despite him saying he will be ready for the season, at what point can Pittsburgh honestly tell themselves that they can find enough instant impact players with their picks in this draft to potentially compete in the AFC against teams like the Ravens and Chiefs.