- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The AFC North had a strong start to the NFL draft. That's not the AFC North homer in me saying that. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. named three teams as winners in the first round, and two of them came from this division: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
It's an Insider piece, so you'll need a subscription to view the whole article. But here are some excerpts ...
On the Steelers taking Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones at No. 17, Kiper wrote: "Jones was No. 1 on my Big Board for much of the year, but dipped some during the evaluation process after not working out in Indy and then not running well at his pro day. Well, turns out he's better wearing football pads than Under Armour. Love the value here."
On the Bengals selecting Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert at No. 21, Kiper wrote: "He finished the draft season as the No. 8 player on my Big Board, and the Bengals took advantage of a major value and the fact that they don't have a ton of needs."
The Steelers and Bengals are winners mainly because of a domino effect started by West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin. The St. Louis Rams moved up to take Austin instead of drafting Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. The New Orleans Saints then went with Vaccarro over Jones at No. 15. That allowed Jones to fall to No. 17 to the Steelers, who would've gone with Eifert otherwise. And that's how Eifert landed in Cincinnati.