Immediately after the Ravens drafted Devin Duvernay, Head Coach John Harbaugh gave an enthusiastic fist pump.
In Duvernay, both Harbaugh and General Manager Eric DeCosta see a wide receiver who already plays like a Raven. He brings a tenacity to the field reminiscent of several standout receivers who have made their mark in Baltimore.
"He's a tough guy," DeCosta said, after the Ravens drafted the Texas wide receiver in the third round. "He reminds me of a few guys that we've had here in Baltimore, and I'll reference guys like Anquan [Boldin], Derrick Mason, and of course Steve Smith [Sr]. Those guys all had a competitive spirit about them that made them really stand out."
"I don't think Devin is the biggest guy by any stretch, but he's very tough, very physical, catches the ball really well, and he's really tough with the football. So, I like those competitive guys who don't go down, and he kind of has that style to him. He's almost like a running back with the football."
In college, Duvernay used his chiseled 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame to willingly take on tacklers after making the catch. Defensive backs learned that Duvernay could run by them, but he could also run over them. Here he is taking on LSU safety Grant Delpit, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round.
Duvernay takes comparisons to Smith, Boldin and Mason as a compliment, and he is old to enough to be very familiar with Smith, whose final season with the Ravens was 2016. In his phone call to Duvernay before making the pick official, DeCosta brought up Smith's name.
"I grew up watching him and loved his game," Duvernay said of Smith. "[He] was kind of somebody I loved watching and wanted to be like – play with that chip on my shoulder. It means a lot to get a comparison like that."
Smith was 5-foot-9, 195 pounds but played much bigger than his size. He had good speed as well, running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and beginning his career as a dangerous returner. Duvernay is 5-foot-10, 200 pounds and a touch faster, running the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds.
While Smith was an all-time great trash-talker, don't expect to hear much smack talk from Duvernay. In fact, people around the Texas program joked about how quiet Duvernay was.
"He charges by the word," Texas Associate Athletic Director John Bianco told ESPN.com.
However, what Duvernay does share with Smith is a love for competition. He was all-business on the practice field at Texas, voted a team captain for his leadership. His practice battles against Ravens corners like Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young have the potential to be very interesting.
Duvernay caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns last season, doing damage whether he lined up in the slot or outside. And like Boldin, Mason and Smith, Duvernay has powerful hands to make contested catches which should endear him to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Duvernay's blistering speed in the 40-yard dash helped his draft stock, but his reliable hands made him stand out more.
"In his career, he had over 160 catches with one drop," Harbaugh said. I didn't see a drop on tape this last year. He's only 5-10, [but he's a] strong, tough, real competitive guy. He has a little chip on his shoulder. When we talked to him on the phone, he was excited, but he was a little miffed, too, that he was still there, which I love when guys feel that way, especially in the third round. I think he feels like he has something to prove."
Duvernay thought he should've been higher than a third-round pick, and he enters the NFL determined to exceed expectations.
"I work extremely hard to put myself in position to be successful," Duvernay said. "Yes, [there's] a chip on my shoulder. [I'm] always playing with it. I feel like I have to. It keeps me going and allows me to play with that edge, play mean and physical."