The AFC North is a notorious, hard-nosed division. The Steelers and Ravens have ruled the division for most of the 21stcentury, while the Bengals and Browns have rosters that could potentially be competitive now. The Browns, in particular, are going to need to rely on their rookies this year, after new general manager John Dorsey’s first draft. With that being said, let’s take a look at one draft pick each team has high expectations for.
The 2nd rounder out of Nevada is going to have lofty expectations in 2018. Future Hall of Fame Joe Thomas retired after the 2017 season, and the Browns will need someone to step in and fill that role. The Browns picked Corbett to do that with the first pick of the 2ndround. He’ll join an underrated offensive line that needs to protect Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield in 2018.
Some had a first round grade on this defensive end out of Ohio State, but he fell all the way to the third round. Hubbard is joining an aging group up front, that could use an influx of youth and talent. Hubbard can provide both of those immediately. Geno Atkins has continued to be productive even as he reaches the 30-year old mark. Hubbard can produce right away as a sub package player, as Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, are unlikely to be unseated as starters on the edge.
Also, an honorable mention here is 2017’s number nine overall pick John Ross. Marvin Lewis seemed to have an issue with Ross for most of last year, and hopefully, that is behind both of them now, as the Bengal offense will desperately need a speedster like Ross if they want to make any noise.
The heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph will have to learn all he can from Big Ben as fast as he can. He’s been very undecided about when he’s going to retire, and we all know how injury prone he is. Combine that with some odd stories about how much Roethlisberger and Rudolph really communicate, and the end seems like it could be near for number 7 in Pittsburgh. Rudolph has an excellent college resume under his belt and has all the tools to be the next big thing at quarterback in Pittsburgh.
It’s hard to not put the draft’s most polarizing prospect in this spot, as much as first rounders are trying to be avoided. Jackson has the potential to come in and set the league on fire the same way Deshaun Watson did in 2017. Joe Flacco seems to be nearing the end as well, and the Ravens have even considered running two quarterback sets and implementing a set of plays just for Jackson so they can get him on the field. If he can excel like he did when he won the Heisman in 2016, Joe Flacco might be out the door soon.