AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens

     

Bengals

  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. says the Bengals made a concerted decision to go after cornerback and defensive line help in free agency — signing CBs Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander and DT D.J. Reader — instead of linebackers, as they liked the draft class more. 
  • Dehner lists Nick Kwiatkoski, Joe Schobert and Blake Martinez as players who were in the mix for the Bengals but they didn’t want to chase the market at the position. 
  • Instead, Cincinnati ended up coming away with three linebackers, snaring Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey, which pro scouting director Steve Radicevic thought was a much better value: “Not to put Wilson in that category — but in my opinion, he’s faster than those guys, a better athlete, cover player than those guys and those guys all got $10-plus (million). So, everybody is all pissed off because we didn’t sign a linebacker in free agency but, in my opinion, we ended up drafting one that’s going to be better.”
  • At receiver, the Bengals wanted an outside receiver and Radicevic was elated WR Tee Higgins was available at the top of the second round: “Tee Higgins to me was a guy [college scouting director Mike Potts] put on and in February, when we all met on him, I was like, ‘We have no shot at this guy being here top of two. Then we bring him in for the interview, I’m like, ‘There’s no way he will be there top of two.’ Lo and behold, there he is.”
  • The Bengals had Houston OT Josh Jones, who fell to the Cardinals in the third round after being widely projected as a first-round pick, in the third-round region on their board. They also coached him at the Senior Bowl and Bengals TE coach James Casey worked with him at Houston. (Dehner)

Browns

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns will look to extend the contract of WR Odell Beckham.

Browns GM Andrew Berry has said all offseason that he is uninterested in trading him and identified Beckham as an important core piece of the team going forward.

“We’ve been clear from the beginning that we view Odell as a fantastic player,’’ Berry told NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “We’re a better team with him on the field. We see him as a long-term member of the organization. We really like how he’s acclimated and adjusted with the new staff.’’

New Browns HC Kevin Stefanski has assured Beckham he will be part of the offense going forward.

“Odell is one of the guys I was fortunate enough to sit down with before all this stuff kind of went sideways, so we sat down and talked about a bunch of things,” Stefanski told 92.3 The Fan. “One of the things we talked about is how he’s going to factor in this offense, and I showed him a bunch of tape from the previous Vikings year, I showed him tape from his Giants years, and just my vision for what he’s going to be capable of doing in this offense.”

On Monday, Beckham posted a video to his Youtube to chronicle his recovery from core muscle surgery in the offseason.

“I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons,” Beckham said, via Scott Petrak. “Bigger, stronger, faster. This is my time.

Probably one of the worst surgeries I ever had,” Beckham also said in the video. “Recovery’s going well. Guess I’m really trying to put my body back together. I’ve been playing for 23 years. So, for me, I’m trying to put it all back together in seven months.”

  • Berry said the decision to pick up the fifth-year option for Browns TE David Njoku was a “pretty straight-forward decision.” (Ian Rapoport)
  • Njoku clashed with the previous coaching staff and struggled last year, which along with the Browns signing TE Austin Hooper to a market-setting contract sparked some trade speculation. However, Berry reiterated they are excited about his potential: We can’t control the rumors but we’re certainly optimistic about David.”

Ravens

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said it would have been “irresponsible” not to draft RB J.K. Dobbins in the second round given how high he was on their board. Baltimore had a first-round grade on Dobbins and he was still on the board at No. 55. 

“My philosophy is talent wins,” DeCosta said via Adam Schein of Mad Dog Sports Radio. “If you have a running back who you think can be a dynamic player for you and you are a team who loves to run the football, to me it makes too much sense.”

  • Per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz has some optimism third-round OL Tyre Phillips and fourth-round G Ben Bredeson can help replace retired Hall of Fame G Marshal Yanda: “They have the talent and the ability to be in the mix.”
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