With the draft over and all wrapped up, we thought it would be a good idea to get back on the phone with our buddy Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's "NFL Matchup," and talk about the NFL by division. Who did themselves the most favors in the draft, and who came up short when addressing their roster deficits?
We started off with the NFC West last week, and we now move to the hyper-competitive AFC North. Appropriate, given Greg's recent post on the NFL Films Blog praising the Cincinnati Bengals' draft strategy. With that in mind, we asked Greg what he thought the Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers did to bolster their teams.
Baltimore Ravens OLB Courtney Upshaw, and how he'll be tasked to replace Terrell Suggs: "The Ravens are very versatile with their fronts. Suggs would line up in two-point and three-point stances. He played a number of different positions and alignments -- that's what the Ravens do, and Upshaw fits that role. I don't think anybody's going to say that he's going to do what Suggs has done for a number of years -- Suggs is a pretty damned good player -- but the way Upshaw plays, I think he could eventually become similar to that guy."
Cincinnati Bengals OG Kevin Zeitler: "I seem to be in the minority here, and we'll never know how the Bengals felt because David DeCastro was gone when they picked, but I thought Zeitler was a little more complete than DeCastro -- I thought he was a better athlete. I thought he had more scheme-versatility, and he fits very well in a zone run game. I'm not sure DeCastro does. Now, DeCastro fits in the power run game better; that's what he did at Stanford. But given what the Bengals want their guards to do, I think Zeitler was the better choice, and would have been the better choice had DeCastro been available."
The Cleveland Browns' first-round selections of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden: "Theoretically, you could look at it this way -- they ended up with Richardson and Weeden instead of Ryan Tannehill and Doug Martin. And I think Richardson/Weeden is the better combination ... in fact, I don't think, I know. Richardson, we don't need to discuss ... I thought he was the best player in this draft. Weeden has some concerns. He was the best pure pocket passer in this draft, but he's got meaningful and troublesome issues with pressure. That's a serious red flag when you transition to the NFL."
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Chris Rainey: "I love this pick for them. It's funny how things change in given years, and where people get drafted -- I like Rainey more than Dexter McCluster, and McCluster was a second-round pick of the Chiefs [in the 2910 NFL draft]. The reason he's a fifth-round pick? He is what he is. He's not a feature back, but you design 12 to 15 plays [around him], whatever you choose -- but this guy can score from anywhere on the field."
As always with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link (in iTunes, go to "Advanced/Subscribe to Podcast," and paste this link in: http://ysportspods.podbean.com/category/shutdown/feed/). You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.