Some are questioning the Cleveland Browns' decision to draft Barkevious Mingo, who didn't fill a team need and wasn't necessarily a safe pick, at No. 6. On the other hand, few have reservations about the picks made by the rest of the AFC North, with the Steelers and the Super Bowl Champion Ravens each selecting players who slipped for seemingly silly reasons.
Cleveland Browns, No. 6 overall: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Rob Rang, CBS: C
Pete Prisco, CBS: C-
Chris Burke, SI: B+
Dawgs By Nature fan poll: A/B
Nobody doubts Mingo's athleticism or potential to be a great NFL pass-rusher, but there's a lot of risk here after a sub-par junior season in which Mingo had only 4.5 sacks. Throw in the fact that the Browns just signed Paul Kruger this offseason and already had a strong player at the position with Jabaal Sheard, and it seems like a questionable decision to use a high pick on an unproven player who doesn't fill a position of need. If the Browns had used a later pick on a project-type linebacker and allowed him to develop behind Kruger and Sheard, that probably would have gone over better. But instead, they're going to have to either deal Sheard or fail to use their No. 6 pick to improve a team that had tons of needs. Offensive guard was a need, and there were two very good ones who went in the next five picks. Mingo has the burst that could make him an elite player in the NFL, but it's a gamble for the Browns when they had options that could have been more helpful to them in the immediate future.
Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 17 overall: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
Many are portraying Jones as a can't-miss opportunity for the Steelers. Sure, there are questions surrounding the pass-rusher out of Georgia -- a dismal pro day, a case of spinal stenosis -- but many graders see those as frivolous concerns that drove a guy who was obviously a strong pass rusher for his entire college career out of the top half of the first round. That allowed the Steelers to pick him, and there's a natural, easy slot for him in their game plan as they try to replace James Harrison. It's a fit, and the crew at Behind the Steel Curtain is pretty okay with it.
Cincinnati Bengals, No. 21 overall: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Cincy Jungle fan poll: "Wasn't expecting it, but happy about it"
Not many thought that the Bengals would draft a tight end -- after all, they already have Jermaine Gresham, a first-rounder just three years ago -- but Eifert ended up going a little bit lower than expected, and not many are faulting the team for picking him. He'll fill a different role than Gresham -- Gresham's a better blocker, while Eifert projects as an elite pass-catcher for a tight end -- and the team will be able to employ some of the double tight end sets that have become popular in recent years. As Cincy Jungle notes, he's not a replacement for anybody, but another weapon. The Bengals could have used a safety or linebacker, but with Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro and Jarvis Jones off the board at those positions shortly before the Bengals picked, it might have been wise for the team to opt for an intriguing player who looks to have been one of the best available on the board at the time rather than stretching for a team need.
Baltimore Ravens, No. 32 overall: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Everybody seems to say that this pick fits the Ravens' mentality and their team needs. Elam's a vicious hitter in his 5'9 frame -- exactly the type of guy Baltimore was looking for in the final pick of the first round as they look to replace Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard. Michael Huff projects to fill Reed's role as a roamer, while Elam fits in as the strong safety. Ozzie Newsome reportedly had eyes on Elam going into the draft, and seized on the opportunity to select him for the Super Bowl champs.