Draft Finally Fell Ravens' Way To Fill Needs

John Harbaugh said coming into the draft that "we won't chase needs."

It worked out that the Ravens didn't have to.

The draft board fell in a way that allowed the Ravens to address the biggest holes on their roster, while also snagging highly graded players who were available much later than expected.

"We scratched a lot of itches," Harbaugh said soon after Ravens' draft concluded. "Our needs and the types of things that are going to make our team better – specifically by position or by the type of player and where they were strategically found in the draft by Eric [DeCosta] and Ozzie [Newsome] and Joe [Hortiz] – I just thought it was masterful.

"It's a big success, and now we have to turn these guys into a football team."

The good fortune started Thursday night, when the Ravens took wide receiver Breshad Perriman with their first-round pick. Baltimore had a top-15 grade on him, but he slid to No. 26 and the Ravens didn't waste any time turning in the card with his name on it.


Perriman was one of three prospects the Ravens were eyeing when they were 10 picks away from being on the clock. The other two players – cornerback Marcus Peters and pass rusher Bud Dupree – both got picked, and DeCosta said the Ravens were "sweating it out" that Perriman would make it to them.

"This year, we finally got something to fall our way, because we were getting wiped out," DeCosta said. "But fortunately he was there."

The board again fell favorably for the Ravens on Day 2.

The team's most glaring roster need entering the weekend was tight end, and some analysts thought the Ravens might have to reach for a player at the position. The opposite turned out to be true, as the Ravens selected the consensus top tight end prospect Maxx Williams with the No. 55 pick.

The Ravens had to sacrifice a fifth-round pick to move up for Williams, but getting him at that spot was a steal late in the second round.

"We spent a lot of time talking about tight ends, trying to find tight ends, and this was our favorite guy in the draft," DeCosta said. "Quite honestly, I never dreamed that he would be there for us even in that range of players. We thought he'd be gone – we thought conceivably in the first round, but definitely, top-40 picks in the draft."

After hitting big on Perriman and Williams, the Ravens used their next seven picks to fill in some depth on both sides of the ball.

They picked up pass rusher Za'Darius Smith from Kentucky to help fill the void left by Pernell McPhee's departure. Southern California running back Buck Allen gives the Ravens a bruising rusher who will compete for carries behind veteran Justin Forsett. Cornerback Tray Walker and wide receiver Darren Waller are both somewhat raw prospects with high ceilings.

The board fit what the Ravens needed, and the smiles from the front office Saturday told the story about how excited the group was with this year's class.

"It just worked out well," DeCosta said. "I think we had a good board, and it's like a big puzzle – a mosaic – trying to figure out like if you take this guy, can you get this guy, or do you take these two guys and this guy? Do you trade up? Do you trade down? I just feel like this year it was easier for us to do for whatever reason."

 

The new receiver was greeted by Ravens brass in Owings Mills at the Under Armour Performance Center.

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