OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A wrap-up of the Baltimore Ravens' draft, which included 11 draft picks (one shy of the modern franchise record):
Best move: Adding pass-rusher after pass-rusher after pass-rusher. The Ravens drafted three players -- Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa (second round), BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (third round) and Grand Valley State linebacker Matt Judon (fifth round) -- who totaled 80.5 career sacks in college. Granted, none played in a Power 5 conference. But Baltimore didn't use a first-round pick to acquire a player who can get after the quarterback. Owner Steve Bisciotti said last month that he wanted young pass-rushers because of the age of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, both of whom are in their 30s. General manager Ozzie Newsome and staff obviously listened.
Riskiest move: Ignoring the cornerback position until the fourth round (Temple's Tavon Young). Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said earlier this month that all of the starter-quality corners are gone by the middle of the third round. That's why it was shocking that Baltimore passed on that position on its first three picks. Then again, maybe it's not too surprising. In the past six drafts, the Ravens have taken five cornerbacks, and only one was in the first three rounds (Jimmy Smith in 2011). That's why three of the top four corners in Baltimore weren't drafted by the Ravens, who are coming off a season in which they allowed a franchise-worst 30 touchdown passes and made an NFL-low six interceptions.
Most surprising move: Passing on UCLA linebacker Myles Jack in the second round. The Ravens have a hole in the middle of the defense after cutting Daryl Smith, and Jack was available when Baltimore was on the clock at No. 36. It seemed like a slam dunk for the Ravens to take an explosive talent like Jack and pair him with C.J. Mosley. Instead, the Ravens chose to trade back two spots with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who chose Jack. Baltimore got an additional fifth-round pick, which it used on Judon. Maybe the Ravens were concerned about drafting a prospect with knee issues after watching 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman (knee) miss his entire rookie season.
File it away: Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon will become the Ravens' starting running back at some point. This marks the third consecutive year that Baltimore used a fourth-round pick on a running back. Lorenzo Taliaferro can't stay healthy. Buck Allen has trouble holding on to the ball. But with Dixon, it looks like the Ravens have found their featured back, whether it's toward the end of this season or next. He has a nose for the end zone. His 87 total touchdowns rank second in NCAA history. Dixon also is a dangerous receiver who can line up in the slot. That versatility is a perfect fit for Marc Trestman's offense.
Thumbs-up: This was a solid but not spectacular draft. The Ravens checked a lot of boxes with pass-rushers, offensive playmakers and even a returner (Navy standout Keenan Reynolds). There just wasn't a lot of flash. The Ravens failed to trade up for Jalen Ramsey and passed on Jack and Noah Spence. It was a safe draft with good upside.
Here is a wrap-up look at the Cleveland Browns' draft.
Best move: The Browns no longer ignore the receiver spot. They not only took a receiver in the first round (Corey Coleman) but also took three more as the draft went on. Ricardo Louis came in the fourth round and Jordan Payton and Rashard Higgins in the fifth. This does not seem to bode well for the possible return of Josh Gordon and seems to bring some serious competition at the position. Coleman is a talent who seems guaranteed a spot by virtue of his first-round status. Louis has speed, but Payton and Higgins both had better numbers. This group will be interesting to watch come training camp.
Riskiest move: There were two intertwined moves that came well before draft weekend. The first was the Browns' signing of quarterback Robert Griffin III, and the second was when they traded the second pick in the draft. That meant the team was giving up on drafting Carson Wentz and turning to Griffin to be the quarterback. There is a strong feeling around the league that if you have a chance at a franchise quarterback, you have to take the shot. The Browns, however, chose to pass up that chance, amass numbers of picks and rely on Griffin. It's an iffy proposition, but that's how the Browns will go in 2016.
Most surprising move: The Browns knew they needed to add a quarterback; the question was which one it would be. Connor Cook ... Paxton Lynch ... Dak Prescott ... all were mentioned. But when it came time to take a quarterback, Hue Jackson turned to Cody Kessler of USC. Jackson said Kessler has everything a team wants, which is good. But the pre-draft scuttlebutt had Kessler as a guy who could not get the ball downfield with consistent success. Kessler is a confident guy, and Jackson believes in him. He was very accurate in college, and he made quick reads and decisions. It could work. But not many expected Kessler to be the quarterback the Browns selected. The Browns head to 2016 with Griffin, Josh McCown and Kessler as their top three QBs.
File it away: A receiver who can make tough catches and doesn't drop the ball has not been a common sight in Cleveland, especially among draft picks (think Quincy Morgan, Greg Little and Vince Mayle). But Payton comes out of UCLA having dropped only 4 percent of the catchable throws sent his way, according to ProFootballFocus. Payton had the surest hands in the draft, and he had 2,060 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final two seasons. He might not have the blazing speed of Louis (the team's fourth-round pick), but he is a much more polished receiver coming out of college.
Thumbs-up or thumbs-down: Thumbs-up but barely. It's tough to gush over the Browns' draft picks, but they had a ton of them -- and they added players at many positions. A team with many needs made five trades and ended up with 14 picks and a cornerback acquired via trade (Jamar Taylor). That's a serious infusion of players to a roster that needs them. The marquee pick, obviously, is Coleman, but receivers Payton and Higgins were very productive at UCLA and Colorado State, respectively. College production was a theme of this draft, as was quality of character. It's tough to say the Browns are appreciably better than they were three days ago, but they have 15 new players to throw in the mix. For that alone, the draft turned out well.
Another year, another relatively unconventional NFL draft class for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Although practically everyone outside Paul Brown Stadium -- including me -- said the Bengals would be best served by doing everything in their power to get a receiver in Round 1, team decision-makers didn't listen. Instead, they were adamant about sticking close to their prearranged draft board. Sure, a run on the receiver position just before the Bengals' first-round pick didn't help my cause, but that didn't matter. The Bengals selected a first-round player who addressed a need and ought to fit in perfectly with the rest of the team.
If there was another theme to this draft, it was this: speed and strength. The Bengals got both in this draft.
Best move: Without question, the Bengals' best draft move was selecting defensive tackle Andrew Billings in the fourth round. Chosen 122nd overall, Billings took one of the draft's biggest tumbles, as he fell well out of the first round. A little more than a week ago, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay selected Billings for the Bengals in the first round of a live televised mock draft. Once Billings fell out of the first round in real life, Cincinnati thought about taking him in the second round. It instead used the 55th overall pick on receiver Tyler Boyd, a selection also in the running for "best move." By staying patient and taking a chance on selecting the 6-foot Billings in Round 4, the Bengals picked up a physical, strong player -- in high school, he squatted 805 pounds and benched 605 -- who now has a massive chip on his shoulder.
Riskiest move: It's hard to really consider any of the Bengals' selections reaches, particularly when you look at each player's measurables, statistics and game film. That said, the riskiest move had to be selecting linebacker Nick Vigil in the third round. The Utah State product had been told he would be a Day 3 pick, likely in the middle of the fourth round and possibly as late as the middle of the fifth. Like most of the Bengals' picks, he was a versatile player in college. Vigil can play any of the linebacker positions, and he comes to Cincinnati boasting a 4.66 40 time.
Most surprising move: The first-round selection of corner William Jackson III came as a surprise, primarily because Jackson plays a position that wasn't as big of a draft need as receiver. It also came as a surprise because Jackson had been predicted for so long to go to the Steelers, who picked a spot later. The run on receivers that preceded the Bengals' pick led them to Jackson, but he's a solid pick who could contribute right away.
File it away: Look for Jackson to compete immediately for playing time at the outside cornerback spot occupied by Dre Kirkpatrick. Although Kirkpatrick has earned the right to enter 2016 as the primary starter there, Jackson could factor into a rotation at some point. Billings almost certainly should see playing time this season, even if only as an occasional two-down player.
Thumbs-up: Once again, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to receive widespread praise for the way they put together a draft class. That has been happening since 2011, when they landed A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in Rounds 1 and 2. This time around, the Bengals targeted speed and strength in an effort to bolster an already deep roster with younger talent. Jackson's selection might have been stunning, given the need for a first-round receiver, but Boyd's pick quickly took care of that. Both players have been lauded for their quickness, as has Vigil. Billings and his bench press made the Bengals stronger. Some of these picks might play this season, but their real value will be seen a few years from now.
A wrap-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft.
Best move: The Steelers are allergic to flash on draft days. They make sensible, late-in-the-round picks and get out of the way. That was the case once again as the Steelers got good value and upgraded their defense with the 2016 NFL draft. Five of the Steelers' seven picks went to the defense. "It's looking very defensively," said outside linebackers coach Joey Porter about the class. "Steeler Nation, we still have pride in our defense," Porter said. The Steelers feel they got a third-round gem in defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who fought the small-school label out of South Carolina State but produced with 37.5 sacks in his career. With Steve McLendon gone and Dan McCullers hardly a guarantee to start, Hargrave will have a chance to play right away. Defensive line coach John Mitchell is high on Hargrave, who can rush the passer on third down from the tackle spot. Hargrave is considered nimble for his 300-pound frame, so if he can help stop the run on early downs, he'll make the Steelers look really smart. He's not a traditional nose tackle, but the Steelers want more versatility from the tackle spot now anyways.
Riskiest move: The Steelers passed on several impact players to take Miami corner Artie Burns with the 25th overall pick. Some teams considered Burns a Day 2 corner. The Steelers did not. Burns' upside is obvious -- he's athletic with adequate size and tracks the football well. He's a playmaker. But the Steelers will have to be patient with Burns, a bump-and-run corner in a defense that relied heavily on zone coverage last year. The Steelers can tweak that approach, of course. Maybe Burns is the catalyst for that change. I believe the Steelers targeted William Jackson III, and when Jackson went to the Bengals one pick earlier, the Steelers went with a high-risk, high-reward cover man who wasn't considered a coveted first-rounder.
Most surprising move: The Steelers' picks were pretty straightforward, but Maryland safety Sean Davis is at least a mild surprise, considering the talented crop of safeties available in Round 2. The Steelers took Davis over Ohio State's Vonn Bell, Boise State's Darian Thompson and many others. But despite reports of occasional poor tackling and footwork, there's a lot to like with the 6-foot-1 Davis, who has experience as a corner and safety and is an impressive athlete (4.46-second 40 time, 37 1/2-inch vertical). The Steelers have basically put the starting strong safety spot on a tee for Davis. When addressing the media Friday night, defensive backs coach Carnell Lake made it sound like he'll expect Davis to contribute right away. "Our needs require us for him to play safety," Lake said. "That is one area that we had to adjust."
File it away: Sixth-round outside linebacker Travis Feeney of Washington has ridiculous upside for the sixth round. Check these measurables for a 6-foot-4, 226-pounder: 4.5-second 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 130-inch broad jump. This is late-Day 2/early Day 3 ability on paper. The Steelers say they had Feeney ranked higher than the 220th spot where they found him. Pass-rusher is one position where depth is irrelevant. You can never have enough good edge guys. The Steelers have a crowded group here but Feeney will have a chance to carve out a role because of his ability.
Thumbs up: This thumb almost trended downward, but the Steelers' premium for speed and athleticism defensively prevailed here. For Pittsburgh, this draft includes the seventh defensive back off the board in the first round and an overall lack of offensive weaponry (no skill players in the first six rounds). But the Steelers were dedicated to improving the secondary with Burns and Davis in the top two rounds. Both are long and fast. This pass defense needs that. That's largely why the Steelers remain in the B range for draft grades. There are no eye sores in this class. Lots of solid moves.
With the 245th pick in the 2016 NFL draft Saturday, the Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up their efforts by adding some back-end depth to their defense.
My take: Clayton Fejedelem's name isn't the only thing that's unique about him. While the safety's college career ended at Illinois, it began at NAIA school St. Xavier. It's a rare rise from a little-known school to the NFL. In Fejedelem, the Bengals picked up a player who likely will spend any playing time he receives this fall on special teams. That said, he'll be given every chance to make the roster in the mold of Derron Smith, the 2015 sixth-round safety who came off the special-teams squads as a rookie to fill in on occasion on defense. Fejedelem doesn't come to the Bengals quite as highly decorated as Smith, though.
Tackle machine: Fejedelem was best-known at Illinois for his ability to get to ball carriers, compiling a team-best 140 tackles his senior season, the most for an Illini player since 2006. He also had seven games last season with 10 or more tackles. That tackling prowess is one reason why he would be a perfect special-teams fit.
The 14th pick in the Cleveland Browns' draft is the second linebacker: Scooby Wright III of Arizona. The 14 picks were the most in the draft by any team -- and the Browns added a 15th via trade. Wright is 6-foot-1 and a stout 246 pounds, making him a physical presence inside.
My take: Wright played only three games in 2015 due to a torn meniscus in his knee, which is a concern. But at this point of the draft, after 13 picks and a cornerback acquired via trade, the Browns are wise to take a chance. If they see something they believe in, they made the smart move by drafting Wright.
The Pittsburgh Steelers concluded their 2016 NFL draft with linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Award winner who helped usher Temple football back into prominence. Matekevich would likely compete at inside linebacker and special teams for the Steelers.
My take: The rep on Matakevich is he's not big, not strong, not fast. Translation: Not good. But he was highly productive in college against good teams and posted nearly 500 tackles in his career. He was also the top player on the Steelers' board. "We like to use the term, 'He's a football player,'" general manager Kevin Colbert said. Coach Mike Tomlin called it "football justice" for Matakevich to get drafted. For the seventh round, this is a solid pickup.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' first offensive skill player drafted in 2016 seems more of a punt returner than a wide receiver at the next level. Houston's Demarcus Ayers, selected 229th overall, returned 28 punts for 290 yards and a touchdown last season.
My take: No speed, no problem? Ayers' 4.7 40-yard dash time coupled with his listed height of 5-foot-9 makes him an underdog to make the receiver rotation. But special teams coordinator Danny Smith loves Ayers as a returner. "The kid plays fast," he said. But because of the Steelers' receiver depth, they will likely need any returner to contribute on offense. It's not like he can't play that side of the ball. In 2015, Ayers caught 98 passes for 1,222 yards, the latter good enough for the No. 18 national ranking. Ayers faces an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster and will likely be in contention for slot receiver Eli Rogers for a spot somewhere.
In Washington's Travis Feeney, the Pittsburgh Steelers got a rotational pass-rusher who instantly injects athleticism into the outside linebacker group. Feeney's an All-Pac-12 second-team performer who had 17.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks last season.
My take: This is ridiculous upside for the sixth round. Check out these measurables for a 6-foot-4, 226-pounder: 4.5-second 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 130-inch broad jump. This is Day 2 ability on paper. Feeney said he doesn't know exactly why he fell, but that it's "freakin' awesome" to be a Steeler and that his dad's from the Pittsburgh area. Pass-rusher is one area where you can never have enough good guys. The Steelers have a crowded group here but Feeney will have a chance to make an impact.
Relief: Feeney was starting to think he'd be an undrafted free agent. He was ready to pick his destination and make a team. Change of plan. "I was sitting at home thinking no one was going to call," Feeney said.
Once the draft started entering it's final stretch, the Cincinnati Bengals began looking to bolster some of the depth they previously added at the receiver position. While Tyler Boyd should slide fairly quickly into the Bengals' No. 2 or No. 3 receiver role behind A.J. Green and/or Brandon LaFell, Mississippi product Cody Core could be used to help complement each of them.
My take: Laquon Treadwell was the big-name Mississippi receiver who was the talk of mock drafts all throughout the pre-draft process. Some of that attention took away from college teammate Core, one of four other Mississippi receivers who had more than 30 receptions last season. Each of those catches still helped him get drafted Saturday, as the Bengals selected him with their lone sixth-round pick. He's used to playing second, third and fourth fiddle in a passing offense that thrives upon the usage of a diversity of targets. Core will have to maintain that mentality in Cincinnati, where he likely will be playing behind the likes of Green, LaFell and Boyd, and more veteran wideouts Brandon Tate, Mario Alford, James Wright and Jake Kumerow. This isn't the splashiest selection, but it could pan out as the Bengals start offseason competition at receiver.
Special teams to start: Core could begin his time with the Bengals on special teams. Although he was a valued pass-catcher at Mississippi, he also was a defensive back and did play on punt and kickoff teams during his college career. He had eight tackles in both 2012 and 2013 when he played in all three phases of the game.
My take: It's a smart move for the Ravens to address the thinnest position on the team. Canady is an experienced three-year defender who started 33 of 44 games. He has good size (6-foot-1) and fluidity. The Ravens only had five corners before drafting Temple's Tavon Young in the fourth round and Canady in the sixth round.
Canady has been an inconsistent playmaker. He forced 10 turnovers in his career, but he didn't make an interception last season. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 122nd corner out of 142 in his class. Over the last two seasons, he allowed 10 touchdowns and intercepted three passes.
Many thought the Ravens would either take an inside linebacker or a quarterback with their 11th and final pick of the draft. Baltimore still hasn't filled the void left after cutting Daryl Smith, and the Ravens currently only have two healthy quarterbacks on the roster (Ryan Mallett and Jerrod Johnson).
My take: This is one of the most intriguing late-round picks in Ravens history. Reynolds has the skill set to be an impact returner and could develop into a slot receiver. His strength is getting the ball in space, and he's been working on returning kicks with Brian Mitchell, who is considered one of the best returners in NFL history. As a quarterback for Navy, Reynolds set FBS records for career touchdowns (88) and rushing yards by a quarterback (4,559). This sets up a good training camp battle with other receiver-returners Michael Campanaro and Kaelin Clay.
Service commitment: Reynolds is hoping the Navy allows him to pursue his NFL dream. The Navy gets a five-year service commitment from Reynolds in exchange for his undergraduate education. Reynolds said he is optimistic that he can pursue his NFL dream while honoring his service commitment like Joe Cardona, who is the New England Patriots' long-snapper as well as an active member of the Navy.
Sweating it out: Reynolds acknowledged that he was getting worried that he would not get drafted. He was snubbed for the NFL scouting combine, failing to earn one of roughly 332 invitations. And Reynolds then didn't see his name get called through five rounds. "I was sitting in my mom's home and I was like, 'Man, why am I still around,'" Reynolds said. "I was just upset. I'm seeing guys go off the board, and I'm like, 'I know I can play with these guys.' To see my phone ring and see Baltimore on the clock, I was like 'This is it right here.'"
The Cleveland Browns selected defensive back Trey Caldwell with their fourth pick of the fifth round on Saturday. He started 22 games the past two seasons at Louisiana-Monroe and had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. That pick-six was the deciding score in a win in last season's finale over New Mexico State.
My take: When it gets to this point of the draft, successful choices are a bonus. Caldwell is only 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds. He left high school as a dropback passer and made a successful conversion to defensive back. Caldwell was the first player taken at cornerback, a position where the team has needs.
Never let it be said the Browns are ignoring the wide receiver position. Taken in the fifth round, Colorado State's Rashard Higgins was the fourth receiver drafted by the Browns -- though with Seth DeValve, the number could be five since DeValve played WR in college. The last team to take five WRs in the draft was the Los Angeles Rams, when the draft was 17 rounds.
My take: After many complained because the Browns took just one receiver in the draft in the past two years, it's tough to complain when they take five (or four, depending on your view). Higgins is also another player who was extremely productive in college, as he finished the school's all-time leader in receptions (239), yards (3,649) and touchdowns (31). There's nothing wrong with having numbers at a position, and it's all the better when the players were as productive as the Browns' draftees were.