AFC North Rumors: Ravens, Steelers, Hines

After losing both of 2023’s starting guards, Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson, to free agency, the Ravens have been tasked with replacing both starters on either side of center Tyler Linderbaum. Though Baltimore had thoughts to address those holes in the 2024 NFL Draft, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec reports that a third-round run on guards led the team’s draft room to shy away from the position.

Starting with the seventh pick of the third round, the Ravens watched Isaiah Adams, Cooper Beebe, Christian Haynes, Zak Zinter, and Dominick Puni all come off the board. Similarly, in the fourth round, a run that included running backs Jaylen Wright, Bucky Irving, Will Shipley, Ray Davis, and Isaac Guerendo (the last four making up four of the five picks before Baltimore’s) led the team to go in another direction (though Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen was available and selected four picks later).

These runs, especially the four running backs selected in the five picks before the Ravens’ selection, seemed strategic, given the team’s obvious desire to add to both positions in the draft. Faced with this challenge general manager Eric DeCosta pivoted, and instead of drafting a player at those positions far above their distinguished value, Baltimore addressed other needs, selecting Penn State pass rusher Adisa Isaac and Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa.

Unrelated, rookie safety Beau Brade, one of the Ravens’ top undrafted free agent signings out of Maryland, is set to be sidelined for a few weeks after injuring his ankle in the team’s rookie minicamp. Considered one of the most likely undrafted players to make a roster spot (the Ravens historically have at least one per year), Brade is expected to be back before the team adjourns for the final break before training camp.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of the NFL’s toughest division:

  • The Steelers utilized three of their seven draft picks in an attempt to make improvements to their offensive line, including taking Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu 20th overall. While the team was happy to see Fautanu fall to them, considering they predicted he could go as high as No. 10, the team also had their eye on Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims. With all the recon the team dedicated to offensive linemen, Pittsburgh likely figured out that Mims was headed to Cincinnati two picks before them, so it speaks to the team’s feelings on Fautanu that they opted not to make a trade up. As soon as they put in the pick in the first round, they went back to work, targeting West Virginia center Zach Frazier to determine whether or not he would still be around at No. 51 (he was).
  • New Browns running back Nyheim Hines missed the entire 2023 season on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in a freak jet skiing accident last summer. Known for his abilities receiving out of the backfield and returning kicks, Hines lines up as a perfect complement to recovering lead back Nick Chubb on paper. In order to do that, though, Hines has to come all the way back from the season-ending injury. On the Up & Adams show on FanDuel TV, Hines explained that he’s made progress on his rehabilitation and is on schedule for his recovery.
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