The Ravens are sticking with their tried and true best play available philosophy.
Baltimore took Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with their second-round pick Friday night, giving them a prospect many draft analysts had graded as one of the top defensive lineman in the class.
Jernigan, 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, gives the Ravens an athletic lineman who can beat blockers with his quickness to be a disruptive force in the backfield. He could be paired next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle
“I was just telling myself that all I need is a chance, and then that phone rang,” Jernigan said. “I’m going to give the Baltimore Ravens everything I have with my mind, body and soul.”
The move shows the Ravens are staying true to their draft board, rather than selecting by need.
The team entered the draft with more pressing needs at safety and offensive line, but the Ravens have focused their top two picks on upgrading the middle of their defense. They selected Alabama inside linebacker
General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s call caught Jernigan off guard, as he did not have much contact with the Ravens during the pre-draft process.
“I was surprised,” Jernigan said. “I didn’t really have a lot of contact with them. We met at the combine and we had a great meeting together. Everything went smooth. It just kind of caught me out of the blue, but I’m happy at the end of the day.”
Jernigan’s fall into the middle of the second round was likely impacted by a recent report that he failed a drug test at the combine in February. Jernigan addressed that incident Friday, saying the report was the result of a diluted urine sample rather than finding drugs in his system.
“It wasn’t a positive drug test. The sample was diluted,” Jernigan said.
While a diluted sample is often times a result of a player trying to cover up drugs in his system, Jernigan said his was due to losing a lot of weight and significantly increasing the amount of fluids in his diet. He also had an IV treatment about a week before the combine, which he believes impacted the sample.
Jernigan said he lost about 15 pounds training for the draft after the season.
“I was losing weight very fast and it was causing me to cramp,” Jernigan said. “My nutritionist wanted me to start drinking a lot more water.”
The Ravens did not address the issue with Jernigan before Friday night, but Newsome did talk with the NFL regarding the combine drug test. The team’s scouts also had conversations with sources at Florida State.
“Our scouts do a very good job with our sources at the school,” Newsome said. “I had spoken with the league based on what happens when someone does have a dilution at the combine. We were very comfortable with taking him.”
The report may have caused some teams to drop or lower Jernigan on their draft board, putting the Ravens in position to get make a great value pick in the second round. Jernigan said he has a chip on his shoulder after falling out of the first round.
“I can’t lie and say that it wasn’t difficult, but at the end of the day I put my faith in God and I know that He will put me in the right situation with the right team and right coaches,” Jernigan said. “It’s a blessing just to have my name selected, especially with the Baltimore Ravens.”
The Ravens had a higher grade on Jernigan than where they ultimately ended up taking him.
“When we stacked our list this afternoon, he had to be the second guy that we put on the list as we re-stacked it,” Newsome said. “As we started to watch the draft unfold, we started to feel good that we might have a chance to get him.”
Jernigan had 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season. He started every game for a Seminoles team that went undefeated and won the national championship.
While defensive line wasn’t a pressing need, the Ravens did want to add to the spot after the departure of Arthur Jones in free agency. Jernigan will compete with last year’s third-round pick
“They’re getting a dominant, elusive player. A guy that is going to contribute to the team, give everything that he has,” Jernigan said.
“I’m glad the Baltimore Ravens drafted me, to be able to play on a great defense. The Ravens definitely play with a swagger. They play football the way I play football. I feel like I’m the perfect match. I’m definitely going to bring another edge to the defense.”