Now that OTA’s and mandatory team minicamps have come to an end, it’s time to start looking towards the season.
But first, we’ll travel back in time for a moment. Remember all the way back to the first round of the draft?
Back to the present.
Following all of the practices so far in the offseason, we know a lot more about the players that each team drafted, especially since most of the first-rounders are already getting plenty of reps.
Let’s take a look at how each first-round player should impact its team in the AFC North.
We’ll start with what we know best: The Cincinnati Bengals.
Tyler Eifert may have been one of the best value picks in the entire draft. He has fantastic hands, and comes off a productive senior year – especially in the red zone – as he enters the NFL.
I expect him to have an immediate impact on the Bengals, specifically because adding more talent at the TE position will spread out opposing defenses even more. This won’t just give Eifert more touches on the field, but should also benefit each of the receivers; not to mention Andy Dalton.
We go across the state to take a look at Barkevious Mingo, whom the Browns drafted with No. 6 overall pick. This is still a difficult player to judge as far as his immediate impact, mostly because he is switching positions – from a DE on the line to OLB.
Regardless of the position, Mingo brings a knack for getting to the quarterback. That can only help the Browns, and will surely aid in their thirst for bolstering the defensive side of their game.
Traveling to Baltimore, we take a look a Matt Elam. Being a student at the University of Florida, I’ve had the ability to watch this man play in a few SEC games. And truth be told, I had hoped he would fall to the second round, where Cincinnati might pick him up.
Instead, the worst case scenario happened, as he was selected by one of our fiercest rivals.
Elam brings with him a football instinct that is impossible to teach. Combine that with a ton of athleticism, and I’ll be looking to hear his name on NFL Network.
With their first round pick, Pittsburgh selected Jarvis Jones. The moment that the Steelers made that selection, you could almost hear the collective intake of breath around the nation from fans of the other AFC North teams.
Jones is a top talent that will add an energetic spark to an aging Pittsburgh defense. He had a disappointing pro-day, but then again, so did Terrell Suggs.
He will make an immediate impact in 2013, and will quickly be known as a player you’d like to stay away from if given the chance.
The AFC North graded out extremely well in the first round of the draft, and the players have certainly lived up to their respective expectations during practice.