AFC North: Christian Thompson

The Baltimore Ravens announced they cut safety Christian Thompson after he served his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The Ravens didn't have any use for Thompson because they have depth at the safety spot. Behind starters Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo are Michael Huff, Anthony Levine and Jeromy Miles, who was signed last week after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals.

It's telling that the Ravens parted ways with Thompson because the Ravens typically don't cut draft picks a year after being selected in the first four rounds. He was the 130th pick of the 2012 draft and the sixth safety taken.

Thompson played in seven games last season before going on injured reserve with a knee injury in November. He didn't make a tackle on defense or special teams.

This marks only the second player to be let go from the 2012 draft class (wide receiver Tommy Streeter, a sixth-round pick, was the other).
The NFL announced safety Christian Thompson has been suspended without pay for the Baltimore Ravens' first four games of the 2013 season for violating the league's substance abuse police.

Some are probably asking: Who's Christian Thompson? He's a fourth-round pick from last year. And last season, this wouldn't be a big deal. But, after the Ravens parted ways with both starting safeties, Thompson had been considered one of the top backups for 2013.

The Ravens now only have three experienced safeties for the first quarter of the season: Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo and Omar Brown. Thompson played in seven games last season and didn't record a tackle on defense or special teams before going on injured reserve Nov. 17 with a knee injury.

“We have been aware of this situation for some time,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.

Thompson is eligible to participate in all of the preseason games and practices. He can return to the Ravens' active roster after the team's fourth regular season game.
The AFC North blog wanted to know what the fans thought about the drafts for each of the division teams. Now, let's compare your grades against the ones given by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.:

CINCINNATI BENGALS

The picks: CB Dre Kirkpatrick (first round), G Kevin Zeitler (first round), DT Devon Still (second round), WR Mohamed Sanu (third round), DT Brandon Thompson (third round), TE Orson Charles (fourth round), CB Shaun Prater (fifth round), WR Marvin Jones (fifth round), S George Iloka (fifth round), RB Dan "Boom" Herron (sixth round).

Kiper's grade: A-minus

Fans' grade: A (42 percent in the SportsNation poll)

Fans' comments:

Adam from Dayton: Bengals Draft Grade: A -- I thought that the Bengals did an excellent job in adding depth. The one "head scratcher" that seemed to come about this year was trading their second first round pick when they could have got David DeCastro, the highest-rated guard. Granted they received an extra pick and still grabbed a very big and strong guard a few picks later in Kevin Zeitler with that trade, I think it really boiled down to the fact they could have got the best guard, instead all of Bengal Nation saw him go to the Steelers. All-in-all, everyone knows the AFC North is an old-school run -first division, so beefing up the D-Line with a couple of huge, strong, and athletic linemen was a sound way to go and I for one am happy to see the new blood that the team has. These Bengals have tapped into the fountain of youth rather quickly, yet they are getting better and being built for the future.

Andheez: I went for an A. Kirkpatrick is solid. Zeitler is a beast. Some publications had Still as the top DT pre-combine. Not sold on Sanu, but I think the Charles pick was fantastic. I am not one to ostracize someone for a DUI. Prater, Iloka and Herron probably won't stick, but sounds like Jones was a nice find.

mann_usmc: I give the Bengals a C. Here we go drafting a CB in the first round again. Keep Johnathan Joseph and you can fill other spots (safety). The next four picks draw a big question mark. If you're going to draft an OG, then why not take the best prospect in a decade in DeCastro? You pass on him and allow the Steelers to draft him and all you gain is a third-round pick. That is a big miss in my opinion. Secondly, you draft two DTs when you already have Domata Peko and Geno Atkins. Sure these guys provide depth, but I would think that with my second-round and third-round picks to be a contributor. I wouldn't use draft picks that high for backups.


CLEVELAND BROWNS

The picks: RB Trent Richardson (first round), QB Brandon Weeden (first round), OT Mitchell Schwartz (second round), NT John Hughes (third round), WR Travis Benjamin (fourth round), LB James-Michael Johnson (fourth round), G Ryan Miller (fifth round), LB Emmanuel Acho (sixth round), DL Billy Winn (sixth round), CB Trevin Wade (seventh round), TE-FB Brad Smelley (seventh round).

Kiper's grade: B-minus

Fans' grade: B (38 percent)

Fans' comments:

Kovacs from Dallas: This draft is an A if Weeden works out but probably a low B or high C if he doesn't. Worst case the draft added two starters at key positions, RB and RT, and much-needed depth at areas where it was badly needed, DT and LB. If that's the worst case it's still a nice-looking haul.

Kyle from Columbus, Ohio: The Browns did a pretty good job of filling some holes and adding some depth. I really like the T. Richardson pick, but I think they reached a little for B. Weeden. My only complaint is that if you decide to take a first-round QB, you have to give him some weapons. T. Benjamin looks like a special-team guy, who may help out in the slot.

JBT1MIAMI: Simple D-minus. I'm still waiting for any fan to address why it's not an issue that Trent Richardson didn't compete at the combine because he had his knee scoped. How is he any better injury-wise than [Montario] Hardesty, knowing he's also had both ankles reconstructed. Why no issue with this? Why not just trade for [Rashard] Mendenhall if it's no issue. He's proven on the pro level. Think Steelers believe this kind of thing is an issue with running backs? I guess it's like training a dog, people have to separate emotional attachment of drafting a hyped running back, and learn about calm reasoning. Emotions just gave the Browns a 3-13 record.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

The picks: OLB Courtney Upshaw (second round), OT-G Kelechi Osemele (second round), RB Bernard Pierce (third round), C-G Gino Gradkowski (fourth round), S Christian Thompson (fourth round), CB Asa Jackson (fifth round), WR Tommy Streeter (sixth round), DT DeAngelo Tyson (seventh round).

Kiper's grade: B

Fans' grade: B (40 percent)

Fans' comments:

Shadowwolf1001: It's really toss-up. There are some strong picks here that would warrant an A, but there are also some picks I'm not too sure about which probably warrant a B. I'd have to vote B-plus with the potential of an A grade later on.

jdille123: C-plus. Ozzie [Newsome] must have taken this one off. Still got some good talent, but he usually does better.

youmadbromad: I gave them a D because they did not draft a new FG kicker.

Dave from Mansfield, Ohio: I'm giving the Raven a 'B.' They came into the draft with holes at LB, OT, OG and filled all of these needs. However while Upshaw should help feel the void left by Terrell Suggs, Kelechi Osemele should step in and start at guard and hopefully Gino Gradkowski develops as the replacement for Matt Birk. Plus Tommy Streeter has the potential to be a huge steal if his football skills catch up to his physical stature and speed.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The picks: G David DeCastro (first round), OT Mike Adams (second round), ILB Sean Spence (third round), NT Alameda Ta'amu (fourth round), RB Chris Rainey (fifth round), WR Toney Clemons (seventh round), TE David Paulson (seventh round), CB Terrence Frederick (seventh round), G Kelvin Beachum (seventh round).

Kiper's grade: B

Fans' grade: A (61 percent)

Fans' comments:

WhoDeyAJGreen: As a Bengal fan (obviously) and an OSU football fan, I graded them as a A-minus. Great value picks while also filling needs. The player that will make the difference between an A-minus and A-plus is Mike Adams. If he can get his [act] together, then they had one heck of a draft from top to bottom.
nyontopin2003: This draft looks like the 2002 draft from a potential standpoint and one can only hope it is that good. Interesting to see if the Steelers are going the four year route on players rounds 2 through 7 due to the Wallace situation, small cap issues expected in 2013-2015, or because they see those players being that good through the depth of this entire Steelers draft class. Only time will tell.

Tyrion_Scannister: Putting aside the fact that grading a draft right away is the dumbest thing ever, I gave it an "A". On paper, DeCastro looks like he was a steal, and Ta'amu will fit perfectly in that defense after some grooming. If those two pan out, and Mike Adams develops into a legitimate starting LT, this could be one of the best drafts for any team in a number of years.

Grade the Ravens' 2012 draft

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
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Each day, we'll look at the draft for one team in the AFC North and ask you to put a grade on it. Either post a comment below or send me one to the AFC North mailbag. At the end of the week, I will post a fans' report card that includes all the division teams, along with selected commentary.

Next up is the Baltimore Ravens. Here's what they did in the 2012 draft:

SportsNation

What grade would you give the Baltimore Ravens draft?

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    12%
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    41%
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    31%
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    7%
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    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 33,143)

Second round: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama. Replacement for Jarret Johnson is eager to prove himself after watching four Alabama teammates get selected in the first round.

Second round: Kelechi Osemele, OT, Iowa State. He could make an immediate impact if he transitions from college tackle to NFL guard.

Third round: Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple. Backup for Ray Rice rushed for 3,570 career yards and 53 touchdowns.

Fourth round: Gino Gradkowski, C/G, Delaware. The younger brother of Bruce Gradkowski could be the eventual replacement for center Matt Birk.

Fourth round: Christian Thompson, FS, South Carolina State. Ran the fastest 40 time (4.5 seconds) for safeties at the NFL combine and likes to hit.
Fifth round: Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly. Small-school corner lacks size but can make a contribution as a returner in his rookie season.

Sixth round: Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami. Raw prospect has intriguing size (6-foot-5) and athleticism.

Seventh round: DeAngelo Tyson, DL, Georgia. He's big and athletic enough to make a team looking for depth on the defensive line.

Let's take a quick look at what the division teams did in the fourth and fifth rounds:

BENGALS: Cincinnati should play a lot more two tight end formations with the addition of Georgia's Orson Charles (fourth round). He can get open in the passing game and help out the running game with aggressive blocking. ... Iowa CB Shaun Prater (fifth round) is a strong worker who lacks ideal height (5 feet 10). He projects to be a nickel back down the road. ...California's Marvin Jones (fifth round) is the second wide receiver taken by Cincinnati (Rutger's Mohamed Sanu was the other). He isn't technically sound but he was impressive at the Senior Bowl. ... Boise State FS George Iloka (fifth round) has a lot of range in pass coverage but he is an inconsistent tackler.

BROWNS: Cleveland addressed the need for speed at receiver with Miami's Travis Benjamin (fourth round). His other contribution could come as a returner. ... Nevada's James-Michael Johnson (fourth round) is listed as an inside linebacker but he could be the eventual replacement for outside linebacker Scott Fujita. ... Colorado's Ryan Miller (fifth round) is a mauling lineman who is extremely tall (6 feet 7) for a guard. He projects to be a right guard.

RAVENS: The Ravens found their potential center of the future in Delaware's Gino Gradkowski (fourth round). He could also compete for the job at left guard, where Jah Reid is currently penciled in as the starter. ... South Carolina State FS Christian Thompson (fourth round) adds depth at safety, where the Ravens lost Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura in free agency. ... Cal Poly CB Asa Jackson (fifth round) shows great burst as a punt returner but he is a raw cornerback prospect.

STEELERS: Pittsburgh's strong draft continued when the team selected nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu from Washington (fourth round). He could be pressed to start right away with Casey Hampton (ACL surgery in January) isn't ready at the start of the season. ... Florida RB Chris Rainey (fifth round) is an undersized explosive playmaker. He lasted this long because of character concerns.

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