AFC North pre-draft roster grades for the 2022 NFL offseason

NFL 2022 - Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
NFL 2022 - Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images /
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NFL 2022, AFC North
NFL 2022: Joe Burrow #9 #of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Los Angles Rams during the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

How did the AFC North perform in free agency? Let’s take a deep dive into each team’s moves and give them a pre-draft grade.

The AFC North is going to be a very competitive division this season.  The Steelers are now officially in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, the Browns made a major quarterback upgrade, the Ravens had a good team battered by injuries in 2021, and the Bengals made the Super Bowl.

I’d argue that each team in the division got better, which is rare to see during free agency.

These teams are well-run from the top down; they have competent general management and have a ton of solid players on both sides of the ball.

It’s no surprise that the AFC North in general has been a hyper-competitive division for years.  This year, though, I think we’ll see the division hit new heights.

The Browns and Bengals should be the early favorites to win the division, but the Ravens are obviously a very talented team, and the Steelers haven’t had a losing record since 1785, so they’ll probably find a way to win games.

As we head towards the NFL draft at the end of the month, which AFC North team had the best free agency period?

Let’s look at each team’s moves in free agency and give some pre-draft letter grades.

AFC North pre-2022 NFL Draft roster grades

1. Cincinnati Bengals – A

The Bengals had one simple job this offseason, and they nailed it.  Between the regular and post-season, Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times.  That’s inexcusable.  If the Bengals want to remain competitive in the long run, protecting Burrow is the top priority.

And they did just that.  As of now, they’re expected to have at least three new starters along the line in La’el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras.  All three are talented players, and Karras has positional versatility.

The Bengals might be in a perfect spot, for example, to take one of the top interior linemen in the NFL draft like Zion Johnson or Tyler Linderbaum.  This would allow them to move Karras to the appropriate spot and give the Bengals a competent unit.

They also brought back eight of their own players and replaced the departed CJ Uzomah with Hayden Hurst, who is better.

The Bengals still have money to spend if they want to add another cornerback or someone along the front seven.  Their offensive is now mostly set on paper, so expect them to perhaps add more along the o-line and hammer the defense with players in the draft.