With all of the excitement of the newly-minted Steelers attending rookie camp, profiles of Pittsburgh picks have been plentiful. But the entire AFC North has added big weapons to their respective arsenals. These are men that could potentially be the faces of the franchise in Baltimore, Cleveland and the Cincinnati Correctional System.
In our initial profile of potential standouts that will figure prominently in the Steelers' game-planning twice or maybe thrice per year, we look at the Nickelback of the NFL, the Cleveland Browns. The Browns had an excellent draft, at least on paper.
No. 95 DE Myles Garrett
Garrett jumped head-first into the deep end of this storied rivalry with his draft-day comments to ESPN's Randy Moss regarding the first person he can't wait to take down . . . Ben Roethlisbeger. Garrett has done his homework on the Steelers and noted how tough it is to bring Big Ben down. He gets his chance on 9/10/17, but can he get past Marcus Gilbert and company? It'll be fun to watch.
Garrett was worthy of being the top choice overall. As the son of former NBAer Sean Garrett, and having a mother and sisters as track standouts, Garrett has an amazing athletic pedigree. He had 11.5, 12.5 and 8.5 sacks in his first three years at Texas A&M respectively, despite suffering an early-season knee injury.
Described by scouts as fluid, agile and explosive, Garrett could be a major thorn in the side of the Steelers and No. 7. He has the ability to be an elite edge-rusher with All Pro potential. The main knock on Garrett is a belief that he sometimes takes plays off. Hall of Famer Warren Sapp labeled him as lazy and as a player who "only makes four plays a game". The Browns rookie takes exception to that.
The presence of Myles Garrett in the Browns lineup alone won't tip the scales in Cleveland's favor. But it will greatly improve their chances to strengthen the rivalry.
No. 27 SS Jabril Peppers
He's the ultimate Swiss-Army knife. Peppers will be the strong safety in Cleveland, but he can also play linebacker, return kicks and punts, play on offense and take snaps in the wildcat. The Michigan star is an elite athlete, but not fully a playmaker. He only had one interception, ten pass defenses and no forced fumbles in college. But still, his presence on the field will force Pittsburgh to need to be aware of him at all times.
No. 85 TE David Njoku
Scouts compare Njoku to another TE from "the U", Greg Olsen. The Steelers struggle with big and athletic guys at the TE position with ball skills. Njoku could be one of those guys.
Only 20 years young, the former receiver and high-jump champ in high school has all the tools to be an elite tight end. At 6'4"/246 lbs., Njoku is a credible red zone target (43/698 yards and 8 TDs last year) that the Steelers will have to account for at all times. He could be the guy that gives Pittsburgh fits galore. The only knocks on Njoku is his 11% drop rate during his past two seasons and his lack of experience. But that actually makes his upside seem scarier.
No. 7 QB DeShone Kizer
How good is this guy and which Kizer will show up on game days in Cleveland? I'm sure the Browns would like to see the man that guided his team to the Fiesta Bowl after 2015 and not the leader of a sorry, 4-8 Notre Dame squad last year.
He has great size, mobility, a big arm and possibly a big ego. The QB has proclaimed himself as having Tom Brady's intelligence and Cam Newton's body. That's a bold statement.
His first season at the helm in South Bend, Kizer shined. He completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,880 yards and threw 21 TDs against 10 interceptions. Last season, he had a completion rate of only 58.7 percent and threw for 2,925 yards, 26 TDs and nine interceptions.
Scouts feel that he needs to take time to develop and have questioned his accuracy, consistency and decision making. However, he has raised comparisons to Steve McNair. The right coaching can make him a star.
After rookie minicamp, Hue Jackson commented that Kizer has a lot of work to do and wants him to learn a complicated system. Kizer needs to beat out Brock Osweiler, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler to start on day one. He has the ability to break the long line of failure at the QB position in Cleveland or possibly just another piece of duct tape on the jersey of doom.
No. 65 DT Larry Ogunjobi
Ogunjobi looks to be a Javon Hargrave-ish type of steal for Cleveland in the third round. As the Browns possibly transition into a 4-3 defense, the aggressive and explosive Ogunjobi and his 13.5 tackles for a loss last season at Charlotte could help fortify the Cleveland front four. With Garrett and Ogunjobi joining Danny Shelton and Emmanuel Ogbah, Cleveland could have a formidable front-four for the Steelers to contain.
No. 35 CB Howard Wilson
At 6'1", Wilson has nice size and speed. But scouts feel he needs more muscle and experience at the corner position. The Houston CB had five picks and broke up ten passes in 2016 after an injury caused him to miss his previous season. Now, Wilson is expected to miss a significant amount of time after sustaining a fractured patella at Friday's rookie camp.
No. 78 OL Roderick Johnson
Johnson replaced the current Cleveland center, Cam Erving, when he moved from left tackle to the middle of the line at FSU. Now, he's back with Erving and will get an opportunity to play alongside his former Seminole-mate. Johnson has been described as a powerful run blocker, however he has suspect pass-blocking abilities and the belief is that he needs to correct his footwork to get an opportunity at the pro level.
No. 99 DL Caleb Brantley
Brantley was considered a fairly high pick until he allegedly punched a woman in the face outside of a bar in April. But not to worry Cleveland, he still thinks he's a good guy.
On the field, Brantley had 31 tackles and 9.5 for a loss in 2016 and is a powerful DT that can play anywhere on the interior of the defensive line. He has the ability to start and be productive for the Browns.
No. 5 K Zane Gonzalez
Cody Parkey was 20 for 25 on field-goal attempts last season, so this will be an open competition at camp. Gonzalez, from Arizona, won the Lou Groza award last year and was a unanimous, first-team All-American. It's the first time since 1989 that the Browns drafted a kicker. Gonzalez set the NCAA record for most field goals with 96, besting the previous record by eight.
No. 37 RB Matthew Dayes
Cleveland's last pick and the second-to-last overall, Dayes is a patient runner who had 1,166 yards rushing and 10 TDs in 2016. The NC State RB is also a very good receiver out of the backfield. But he's on the small side and doesn't get many yards after contact. He could still crack the roster, but Dayes is not considered an every-down back.