Round 1 of the NFL draft was eventful as always.
All four AFC North teams held selections with the Ravens drafting twice. The Bengals picked at No. 5, the Steelers picked at No. 24 and the Browns slotted just one pick ahead of the Ravens at No. 26. With six total picks, Day 1 of the draft saw an infusion of high-level talent join the division ranks — particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Let’s dish out some grades for each individual selection. Share your thoughts in the comments below and join in on the conversation!
No. 5 — Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Bengals made good use of their fifth overall pick, selecting the top overall wide receiver in the draft. Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Burrow’s favorite target at LSU in 2019, is a dynamic athlete with strong route-running skills. He’s physical at the point of attack and can separate with strength or speed. Chase will give the Bengals another high-level receiving threat to pair with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
You can’t question the player, but many will critique the Bengals for not taking OT Peneii Sewell with this pick. Cincinnati desperately needs offensive line help to protect their franchise quarterback and they passed on the top OL prospect in favor of Chase.
No. 24 — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Similar to the Bengals, the Steelers nabbed a top-ranked skill player with their first round pick in Najee Harris. Harris, most people’s No. 1 running back prospect, fills a big need for Pittsburgh in the backfield and should provide juice to a lackluster running game. Harris was a dynamic playmaker at Alabama and brings three-down ability.
Like Chase, hard to question the player but worth questioning if this was the best possible pick for Pittsburgh. Their offensive line also needs bolstering and selecting a running back in the first round is a controversial topic in today’s NFL.
No. 26 — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
With few glaring roster needs, the Browns could have gone a number of different directions in Round 1. Sticking with their theme of free agency, they made another addition in the secondary by adding Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II.
Many projections had Newsome II going in the early 20s, so getting him at No. 26 is pretty decent value for Cleveland. Newsome is a physical cornerback with impressive length and athletic ability. His man coverage skills will be a welcomed addition to the Browns’ defense, whose secondary is shaping up to be much improved.
No. 27 — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
One of the most reoccurring mock draft projections for the Ravens was Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman. Sure enough, it came to fruition. Bateman was the fourth-best wide receiver prospect on a handful of big boards but fell into the Ravens’ lap at No. 27.
Bateman is an ideal fit for the Ravens as an “X” receiver with elite route-running and sure hands. He has strong separation ability and a good combination of size and agility. He checks off all the boxes and will give Lamar Jackson a much-needed pass-catcher.
No. 31 — Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn St.
With their second of two first-round picks, the Ravens nabbed one of the more intriguing prospects on the board in Jayson Oweh. Oweh has tremendous athleticism and size at the edge rusher position. He was widely-viewed as one of the top pure athletes in this draft class with high-level agility and length.
Oweh’s collegiate production, though, left much to be desired. The question will be whether or not his raw traits translate into production on the field at the next level.