FanPost

Overrated/Underrated Draft Prospects: AFC North

Wanted to start with the division my team (Steelers) plays in...
Baltimore Ravens:
Overrated: Gino Gradkowski
Underrated: Tommy Streeter
X-Factor: Courtney Upshaw
Analysis: With the unfortunate news coming out that star linebacker Terrell Suggs suffered a torn ACL, Courtney Upshaw cold be thrown right into the fire. I was going to say before learning of Suggs' injury that he was landing in a perfect situation to be mentored by both Suggs and Ray Lewis. That is still true of course, but now I fully expect him to be more of an immediate X-Factor. The other player I thought about mentioning as the X-Factor is Iowa State offensive guard Kelechi Osemele. He did play left tackle at ISU... however, his natural pro fit is inside at guard. He could be expected to take over for Ben Grubbs, who left via free agency to New Orleans. Streeter was a pick I absolutely loved in Round 6. He's still developing, but when you have a guy available who is 6'5" tall and possesses 4.37 40 speed, that's a real find late. As far as Gradkowski goes, he was viewed by most as a later round selection, so Baltimore may have reached some to secure his services. That said though, he won't be expected to play right away. Just in another year or two once Matt Birk retires. The Ravens also had a couple of worthwhile additions via the undrafted free agent market in nose tackle products Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen. True nose tackles are not easy to find and both certainly carry the size necessary to be effective in that role.

Cincinnati Bengals:
Overrated: Kevin Zeitler
Underrated: Marvin Jones
X-Factor: Dre Kirkpatrick
Analysis: When the only pick a team made that I didn't particularly care for was in the 6th round (Herron), you know said team did extremely well. Instead of taking a back similar to the one they let go in Cedric Benson and brought in with Benjarvus Green-Ellis, I think they'd have been better served looking at Michael Smith of Utah State. He's a guy I really like with his strong upper body, terrific speed and natural pass catching abilities out of the backfield. It's nitpicking though since we are only talking about a 6th round pick. Zeitler is a guy who could be slightly overrated as a 1st round selection. He's a great run blocker, but not so much as a pass blocker. That said though, I expect him to be a solid decade plus starter at right guard, so I can't knock them too much for the pick. I could have gone underrated with just about any of their six picks after Zeitler. It's amazing that they were able to snag Devon Still, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Thompson, Orson Charles, Shaun Prater and Marvin Jones. The X-factor is Dre Kirkpatrick. Losing Jonathan Joseph as a free agency to Houston prior to the 2011 season was tough. That move only got magnified even more when Leon Hall was lost for the season in Pittsburgh late in the season to an Achilles injury. He should be a big help right away in helping fill that void Joseph left. The most interesting UDFA they signed was Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict went into 2011 as a potential top 10 prospect, but then multiple issues starting popping up before the NFL Draft which caused him to go undrafted. What he needs is some serious coaching. He didn't receive much of it at Arizona State. One thing he did to turn off teams was throw his coaches at ASU under the bus. Even though I do see his point, it's never a good idea to publicly throw your college coaches under the bus.

Cleveland Browns:
Overrated: John Hughes
Underrated: Billy Winn
X-Factor: Brandon Weeden
Analysis: It would have been really easy to go with Trent Richardson as the X-Factor. He'll undoubtedly take a ton of pressure off the starting QB, whether it's Weeden or if the Browns somehow surprise me... Colt McCoy. Colt seems destined to either be relegated to backup duty, traded or released though after the Browns used their second first round selection on Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden. The big problem with drafting a soon to be 29-year-old QB this early is he doesn't get much development time. They will undoubtedly be throwing him right into the fire. If not immediately, then a few games at most into the 2012 season because you don't take that old of a prospect in Round 1 to have him ride the bench. If Weeden can prove to be the answer at QB for the next 5-6 years or so, Cleveland could have something cooking with what will now be a strong running game led by Richardson and a very good defense. If not, the Browns will be going back to the drawing board in a few years. That makes Weeden the X-Factor in my eyes. The overrated prospect is Hughes out of Cincinnati. Most pegged the defensive tackle prospect to be a late round selection, but the Browns thought highly enough of him to snag him in the 3rd round. However, at least the Browns did get solid value with both of their 6th round selections in Winn and Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho. Acho's brother (Sam) of course had a very nice rookie season in Arizona a season ago.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Overrated: Mike Adams
Underrated: Toney Clemons
X-Factor: David DeCastro
Analysis: The Steelers may have the easiest X-Factor to pick of any team not named the Colts or Redskins. After Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, he was the best pick of Round 1 in terms of how good he'll be in the NFL and also the type of value the team got. DeCastro will step in from Day 1 and be outstanding. He plays with a real nasty streak and shows the athleticism to pull in the run game while also being very good at pass blocking. Think Steve Hutchinson or long-time Patriots guard Logan Mankins. Ben Roethlisberger was the happiest man in the world on Thursday night and rightfully so. Unfortunately, the team did have to follow up the DeCastro selection by taking the overrated Ohio State tackle Mike Adams. I don't really see the "upside" some do in him. He has a lot of trouble with speed rushers, plays softer than a man his size should and has had his lack of desire questioned. If that wasn't enough, this guy failed a drug test before the Combine. When you know a year in advance when the NFL Combine is, that's just stupid. Unfortunately, he also failed a couple drug tests at Ohio State, so this isn't his first rodeo. The team would have been MUCH better served to take Brandon Brooks, Bobby Massie or Osemele. All come with just as much upside as Adams and also came with far less risk. At best, I view Adams' upside as Max Starks 2.0. That would be alright if I felt he had a good chance of reaching it... problem is, I consider that a 50/50 proposition at best. I also didn't care for the selection of Alameda Ta'amu over Josh Chapman. The latter is MUCH better and tougher (Chapman played through a torn ACL). Ta'amu didn't always make his presence known for someone who weighs 340+ pounds. Weight problems have also been an issue for him in the past. The underrated prospect came down to either Clemons or Florida's Chris Rainey. I went with Clemons for reasons similar to why I chose Tommy Streeter in that spot for Baltimore. You can't teach the size and speed Clemons possesses. He'll need to bulk up and get some coaching, but in time, the Steelers could have a nice find on their hands. Notable UDFAs include Marquis Maze, Brandon Lindsey and Ikponmowosa Igbinosun. The latter moreso for having the longest and hardest to pronounce name of this draft class.

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