Kevin Gorman: Now that the NFL Draft is over, who runs the AFC North?
The NFL Draft saw the Pittsburgh Steelers make a leap of faith at linebacker, the Baltimore Ravens strengthen their skill positions, the Cleveland Browns pick a kicker and the Cincinnati Bengals bolster their offensive line.
Who will be the king in the AFC North?
The Browns made the boldest pre-draft move, sending their first-round pick to the New York Giants for All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Steelers took the biggest risk, trading up 10 spots to draft inside linebacker Devin Bush 10th overall.
But this one is a close call.
Bold moves: By drafting receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin and running back Justice Hill in the first four rounds, the Ravens surrounded second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson with speedy playmakers. They also found a productive pass rusher in the third round with Jaylon Ferguson, who set an FBS record with 45 career sacks at Louisiana Tech.
Questionable calls: The Ravens took offensive players with four of their first five picks and five of eight. There was great risk involved in drafting Brown because of a Lisfranc injury and their poor history at developing first-round receivers.
Bold moves: Drafting kicker Austin Seibert of Oklahoma in the fifth round might seem like a stretch, but the Browns blew several games because of missed kicks so it became a position of priority. And the pick was a freebie as compensation for trading receiver Josh Gordon to New England.
Questionable calls: The slight frame of cornerback Greedy Williams scared off teams, and he slipped from top-10 status to the second round. There were also character concerns with linebacker Sione Takitaki, a third-round pick.
Bold moves: The Steelers jumped ahead of the Bengals to take Bush, but first-round offensive tackle Jonah Williams was a nice consolation prize. The Bengals traded down early but moved up to select N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley and Ohio State guard-center Michael Jordan in the fourth round.
Questionable calls: Taking tight end Drew Sample in the second-round was a major reach. The Bengals had many positions to address but added quarterback Ryan Finley of N.C. State in the fourth. They needed to replace Vontaze Burfict but didn’t get an inside linebacker until the sixth round.
The Ravens are the reigning division champions but are undergoing a youth movement. The Steelers are perennial favorites but are balancing the loss of Brown with the addition of Bush. The Browns are the trendy choice but still have to show they can win. And the Bengals are a big question mark.
Bold moves: Bush doesn’t just fill a major hole in the defense at inside linebacker but brings speed and potential leadership. The Steelers cleared a starting job for Bush, cutting Jon Bostic hours after the draft concluded. They raved about Diontae Johnson, a wide receiver from Toledo selected with the third-round pick from the Antonio Brown trade and believe he can make an immediate impact as a return specialist and in the slot.
Questionable calls: Tight end was a position of need, but the Steelers reached by taking Zach Gentry with the fifth-round pick acquired in the Brown trade. They opted not to move back in to the second round, kept all three sixth-round picks and drafted for depth, with a focus on improving their special teams.
On paper, the Steelers should be the best in the AFC North.
Now, they must prove to be more than just paper champions.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .