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Ravens Select Cornerback T.J. Tampa in Round 4


As Eric DeCosta entered Day 3 of the NFL draft, he had a list of six or seven players he was hoping to take with the Ravens' first fourth-round pick (No. 113 overall). The Ravens got one with wide receiver Devontez Walker. Then they got another 17 picks later in T.J. Tampa.

The Ravens doubled up at cornerback because the value was just too good, selecting Tampa out of Iowa State in the fourth round.

DeCosta said the Ravens had an "open highway" to pick the best players available on Day 3 regardless of position. He followed through on that, getting huge value by taking a second cornerback following first-round pick Nate Wiggins.

Tampa was projected by draft analysts to be an early Day 2 pick. He was ESPN's top-ranked player entering the day. The Athletic's Dane Brugler had Tampa ranked as his No. 55 overall prospect in the draft. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah had him at No. 84.

"They always say the draft is unpredictable," Tampa said. "There's definitely a chip on my shoulder from here on out for all the teams that skipped me and all the corners that went before me. I'm going to use that as fuel every day."

DeCosta said the Ravens would have taken Tampa much earlier, during the second day, had they not already selected Wiggins.

"We see the length, we see the size, we see the leaping ability [and] his ability to play the football," DeCosta said. "He's a tough guy. He tackles well. We're excited."

Tampa is a bit over 6-foot and 194 pounds. The Florida native, who played at powerhouse Lakewood High School, started every game for the Cyclones the past two seasons and was named to the first-team All-Big 12 squad as a senior, when he made 44 tackles, nine passes defensed, and a pair of interceptions.

Part of the reason why he likely slid further than pundits expected is he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at Iowa State's pro day. Tampa said his physicality is his greatest strength.

"Definitely physicality in all aspects of the game – at the point of contact, getting off of blocks, making tackles, being a willing tackler, press, getting hands on, getting receivers off their routes," Tampa said.

Check out the best photos of Ravens fourth round pick CB T.J. Tampa.

Tampa was also a basketball player growing up and got an offer from James Madison University to play. But Tampa focused on football and was originally being recruited as a wide receiver. A delayed flight led him to work out with the defensive backs and changing positions. After seeing Tampa play in a 7-on-7 tournament, Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart made a push to sign him, but Tampa stayed loyal to Iowa State.

The Ravens have their projected starting cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens, but they've now added superb young depth behind them. Wiggins will become a starter in short time and Tampa has the talent to follow suit down the road.

Tampa and Wiggins were roommates at the Combine and got to know each other.

"The Ravens do a great job developing corners. A big corner Marlon Humphrey, getting to learn from him as much as I can," Tampa said. "Toughness is something they take seriously. I feel like I'll fit perfectly."

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