Reviewing the 2006 NFL Draft: AFC North

It’s been 4 years since the 2006 NFL Draft and those selected have had time to make an impact on their respective teams.  In this new series of articles the writers at NFLMocks will be breaking down each team division by division and grading their drafts.  We will identify the top busts and the biggest sleepers and would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comment section of each post.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: C+

Grading the Steelers 2006 Draft is tricky.  What makes it tricky is the presence of Santonio Holmes and his recent exile for Steeler country.  The Steelers used their 1st round pick on Holmes and he brought production and off the field headaches.  The one thing I can’t overlook is his big Super Bowl catch and his MVP honors.  So I have to give him a high grade but the fact that he is gone and only brought back a 5th round pick defiantly diminishes his contribution to the overall draft grade.  Other than Holmes only Willie Colon has made any sort of impact.  While Colon has several years starting at the right tackle position his overall performance is mediocre at best.  The rest of the Steelers 2006 draft was a wash so when grading this draft you look at the impact of Holmes and Colon but you can’t overlook the trade of Holmes.

Baltimore Ravens

Grade: B-

When you talk about the Ravens you immediately think dominating defense.  One could argue that without their top selection in the 2006 draft that defense would be significantly weaker.  The Ravens utilized the #12 overall pick to select the massive defensive tackle out of Oregon, Haloti Ngata.  The 345 pounder is the stopping force on the Ravens defense.  He plays the all important nose tackle position and does it at an All Pro level.  While 2nd round pick Chris Chester has shown promise I would venture to say that most Ravens fans are disappointed with his overall performance.  Demetrius Williams was selected in the 4th round and has contributed but never capitalized on several chances to grab a starting spot.  Overall this draft was decent but if not for Ngata it would have been disastrous.

Cincinnati Bengals

Grade: A

The Cincinnati Bengals pulled three above average starters out of the 2006 NFL Draft class.  Johnathan Joseph was selected #24 overall and has developed into one of the better young corners in the NFL.  He had career highs in tackles (67) and interceptions (6) last season.  It’s no secret that having a good left tackle is very important and the Bengals struck gold with their 2nd round selection Andrew Whitworth.  Whitworth’s nasty playing style has allowed him to fit comfortably in the new running attack of the Bengals.  Whitworth’s impressive play has left former #6 overall pick Andre Smith fighting for a starting job at the right tackle position.  Arguably one of the top steals of the 2006 Draft has to be Domata Peko.  While Peko doesn’t put up high sack totals he still has a major impact along the defensive front.  Peko’s high motor and great strength allow him to stuff the run.  No defense can be successful without stopping the run.  The only other player remaining on the roster is disappointing defensive end Frostee Rucker.  Rucker is still a part of the defensive line rotation but has failed to live up to some high expectations.  Ethan Kilmer is now a member of the Miami Dolphins but he was a major contributor on special teams.  The Bengals used two later round selections on high risk high reward players AJ Nicholson and Reggie McNeal.  McNeal’s conversion to the wide receiver position did work out and Nicholson couldn’t stay out of trouble and was out of the league quick.

Cleveland Browns

Grade: C-

The best pick for the Browns came in the 2nd round in the form of linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.  Jackson has developed into a good middle linebacker and in 2008 he led the NFL in tackles with 158.  He had an injury shortened 2009 season and is working his way back.  The only other remaining member of this draft class is Jerome Harrison.  Until late last season Harrison was a decent 3rd down back fighting for carries.  In the last three games of the season he compiled 561 yards with 286 of those yards coming against the lackluster Kansas City Chief defense.  The top pick for the Browns #13 overall Kamerion Wimbley just didn’t produce like the organization hoped and was traded to the Raiders this offseason.  This draft grade will significantly improve if Jerome Harrison can build off of the momentum he built at the end of last season.

Top Bust Candidates: Kamerion Wimbley

Top Sleeper Candidates: Domata Peko

Which AFC North team had the best 2006 Draft?

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Tags: 2006 NFL Draft AFC Norht AJ Nicholson All Pro Andre Smith Andrew Whitworth Baltimore Ravens Bengals Browns BUSTS Chris Chester Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Colon D'Qwell Jackson Demetrius Williams Domata Peko Ethan Kilmer Frostee Rucker Haloti Ngata Harrison Holmes Jackson Jerome Harrison Johnathan Joseph Kamerion Wimbley Kansas City Chief Defense Miami Dolphins MVP NFL Ngata Oregon Peko Pittsburg Steelers Raiders Ravens Reggie McNeal Rucker Santonio Holmes Steeler Country Super Bowl Whitworth's Willie Colon

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