Kevin Gorman: Day 1 of NFL Draft puts premium on playmakers in AFC North
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t just get their target when they traded up in the NFL Draft to select Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush in the first round.
They made a splash by leapfrogging the Cincinnati Bengals to do it.
The AFC North rivals both needed to address that position, but the Steelers made a deal with Denver to jump from No. 20 to the 10th pick and move one spot ahead of the Bengals.
That made the Steelers appear to be winners in the AFC North on the first day of the draft, but it comes with a caveat: The team that didn’t have a pick got the best player.
Upside: The Steelers took a calculated risk by swapping their No. 20 overall pick, as well as a second-rounder (No. 52) this year and a third-rounder in 2020 for Bush.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pounder is undersized but makes up for it with speed. The Steelers like his leadership ability and competitive fire, not to mention that he has football smarts.
Downside: Now the Steelers don’t have a second-round pick, so they could be forced to make another deal or hope that someone they covet can slip to them at 66, the first of two third-rounders.
What’s next?: With a need at cornerback, the Steelers might try to move up again, packaging picks to position themselves to draft LSU’s Greedy Williams or Washington’s Byron Murphy, or focus on a playmaker at wide receiver or tight end.
Upside: By selecting Jonah Williams of Alabama 11th overall, the Bengals fortified their offensive line in an effort to protect quarterback Andy Dalton. Now they just have to decide where to play him, as Williams can line up at guard or tackle.
Downside: The Bengals had a great need at inside linebacker, after severing ties with Vontaze Burfict in the offseason. After LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Bush, there’s a drop-off in this draft at the position.
What’s next?: The Bengals still must find a playmaker for the middle of the defense, and could use either the No. 42 or 72 pick to add an inside linebacker.
Upside: Finding a target for quarterback Lamar Jackson was a priority, and the Ravens landed the most dynamic receiver in the draft in Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown.
Downside: The Ravens have had first-round busts in wideouts Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton and Breshad Perriman. They took a big risk in drafting Brown, who is both undersized and dealing with a Lisfranc injury.
What’s next?: The Ravens don’t have a second-round pick because they traded up for Jackson last year. But they have two third-round picks (Nos. 85 and 102) to address needs for a pass rusher and interior offensive lineman.
Downside: Didn’t have a first-round pick.
Upside: Traded their first-rounder to the New York Giants in the deal to acquire star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who will line up opposite Jarvis Landry to give the Browns one of the most explosive tandems in the division, if not the conference.
What’s next?: The Browns have the Nos. 49 and 80 picks, which will allow them to select a safety after including Jabrill Peppers in the Beckham trade.
With both the Browns and Ravens adding playmaking wide receivers and the Bengals fortifying their offensive line, the Steelers should prioritize finding a cover cornerback to compete in what is fast becoming a pass-oriented division.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .