How the 2024 AFC North draft classes stack up against the Steelers

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and while everyone added talent to their roster, not everyone came away as a big winner.
TCU v West Virginia
TCU v West Virginia / G Fiume/GettyImages

With the NFL Draft over with, it's time to look forward to the start of training camp and then soon after the start of the NFL season. However, before that happens, fans want to know where their team stands, and what better way to do that than by comparing the draft classes of each of the teams in the division.

If there's one way to say what the target was in the NFL Draft for the AFC North, it is to say that these teams looked to build through the trenches. Each team used at least one of its first two selections on an offensive lineman, and most also addressed the defensive line early.

This should not come as a surprise as the AFC North has built up a reputation as being a gritty division with hard-hitting and intense rivalries and what better way to do that than building through the trenches?

4. Cleveland Browns

It should come as no surprise that the Browns' draft class is the weakest in the AFC North this year, because they didn't have a first-round pick, and also didn't have a fourth-round selection. However, all things considered, the Browns were able to get some talent on their roster to help build their roster.

Mike Hall Jr., should serve as a valuable addition to the defensive line for a team whose identity was on the defensive side of the ball last year and figures to be once again this season. They were also able to fortify the interior of their offensive line by adding Michigan guard Zak Zinter to their roster.

While they did as well as they could, given the circumstances, it's impossible to ignore that the reason they had no first-round pick is due to the Deshaun Watson trade and he has not been what they were hoping for. Because of that the Browns have to be ranked last in the AFC North when it comes to this year's draft class.

3. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals had a much better draft than the Browns did. While I am much lower on Amarius Mims than others are, because I view him as a risky prospect, it's impossible to deny the upside he possesses. Add in that protecting Joe Burrow has been a huge problem for the Bengals, and it's clear that the need was immense so it was a calculated risk by the Bengals.

However, despite the upside of Mims, I believe their day two picks were much bigger hits for the team. After losing D.J. Reader in free agency this offseason, defensive tackle became a huge need for the team. They wasted no time addressing that, selecting Kris Jenkins from Michigan in round 2 to beef up their defensive line. The National Champion is one of the best run defenders in this year's draft class and should serve as an integral piece to stopping the run in a division that heavily favors running the ball.

To top things off, they added Jermaine Burton in round 3 to strengthen the wide receiver position. This was important for the Bengals as they lost Tyler Boyd in free agency, and appear headed for a breakup with Tee Higgins after this season. Burton adds another weapon to the Bengals' attack in the short term, while hopefully developing into the number 2 behind Ja'Marr Chase long-term.

2. Baltimore Ravens

The top two classes were very close but ultimately the Ravens ended up in the number two slot. It comes as no surprise that the Ravens nailed it in their draft as they do every year.

Baltimore was able to land great value in the draft getting Nate Wiggins, Roger Rosengarten, Adisa Isacc, and T.J. Tampa. Wiggins and Rosengarten should be strong starters for Baltimore and key pieces for years to come.

However, it's the other two that make this class truly special. Isaac is one of the best values at edge rusher and joins a team that has done a tremendous job at developing defensive players and should fit in nicely. As for T.J. Tampa, he was ranked as a second-round pick and Baltimore got him late in the fourth round. Tampa is a physical corner who will fit like a glove in Baltimore, and make opposing coaches regret passing on him for years to come.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

While Baltimore's class was great the Steelers' class barely edges them out for the top spot. The Steelers were able to address a multitude of needs, find plenty of value, and get potential starters at those positions of need. Omar Khan has had two drafts as the GM and appears very adept at the process.

Nabbing Troy Fautanu and Zach Frazier in the first two rounds helped the Steelers establish that ground-and-pound identity they want to get back to while filling the team's two biggest holes. Both were great values for the team and should anchor their spots at center and tackle for years to come. Add to that the Steelers spent their fourth-round pick on a guard in Mason McCormick who could be the starter at guard that replaces James Daniels after his contract expires following this season.

Add in the brilliant job on day two in finding two values in Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson and it's hard to have any gripes with the team's draft class. Roman Wilson is a great option in the slot for the Steelers and is willing to get physical in the run game. Meanwhile, Payton Wilson has drawn comparisons to Luke Kuechly due to his speed, athleticism, and talent, but fell in the draft due to injury concerns. At the spot, where they picked him the risk is baked in and he became a huge value for the team.

All four teams hope their draft classes will help them take a step forward this year. While the Browns may not have had the success the other three had, all four have brought in new talent, and this talent should help each of these teams for years to come.

While the rankings of these draft classes may change once these players get on-field experience, as it stands today, the Steelers had the best draft of the AFC North teams.