The Ravens made a big move a year ago when they traded up into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and selected Lamar Jackson.
They gave up their 2019 second-round pick to do it, but they landed an electric, playmaking quarterback who became a huge difference-maker. Jackson took over as the starter in November and led the Ravens to a division title as a rookie. Just about everyone agreed the trade to get him had been well worth it.
But the Ravens knew for a year that the time was coming when they’d pay a price for making the move – maybe not with an all-encompassing, “winter is coming” nightmare, but a moment to dread nonetheless.
That dreaded moment sprang to life right on schedule Friday night as the second and third rounds of the 2019 draft unfolded.
Lacking a second-round pick, the Ravens waited … and waited … and waited … before finally getting a chance to select a player.
The NFL’s 31 other teams combined to make 52 picks before the Ravens finally had an opportunity and took Jaylon Ferguson, an edge rusher from Louisiana Tech, with the No. 85 overall selection.
The Ravens made that pick at 10:40 p.m. on the East Coast, more than three-and-a-half hours after the Arizona Cardinals began the night with the first pick in the second round around 7 p.m.
Needless to say, a lot went on around the league in those three-and-a-half-plus hours. The Oakland Raiders drafted an entire team, it seemed. The New England Patriots made a half-dozen trades, it seemed.
The Ravens sat idle.
“That was definitely a challenge,” Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta admitted. “It was very frustrating for me to watch all those good players coming off the board (to other teams).”
DeCosta said he paced a lot, ate more than he should, walked the halls of the Under Armour Performance Center and even thought about leaving at one point for a short time because he was so frustrated with no picks to make.
It was a tough few hours, no doubt.
The Ravens had invested hundreds of man-hours into scouting, assessing and ranking the draft class, but now, all that work was going for naught.
The Ravens looked into trading up into the second round, but the cost was “prohibitive,” DeCosta said, so they just waited until their original turn arrived and hoped they could make an impact with their two third-round picks.
Ferguson certainly will have an opportunity to make an immediate difference. The Ravens lost the bulk of their pass rush during free agency when Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith signed elsewhere. They need new blood, and Ferguson possesses an impressive track record, having piled up 45 sacks at Louisiana Tech. He’s also big and strong enough to set the edge against the run.
After taking Ferguson, the Ravens figured to have to wait another hour or so before making their final pick of the night at No. 102 overall, at the end of the third round. But they had their eyes on a wide receiver, Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin, and they wanted him so badly that they traded up to get him at No. 93.
Boykin is “a really intriguing receiver” with “tremendous physical gifts,” DeCosta said. He’s big and tall at 6-4 and 220 pounds, making him a matchup nightmare for many defensive backs.
Between Boykin and Marquise (Hollywood) Brown, the team’s speedy first-round pick, the Ravens have injected a ton of new blood into their receiving corps – a move the fans surely will welcome.
At the end of the night, DeCosta wore a broad smile but admitted he was exhausted. His workday had begun hours earlier with failed efforts to trade into the second round. That was followed by frustrating hours of waiting and doing nothing.
The two new players should fit right into the Ravens’ plans, so it’s a win in the end. But DeCosta said it’ll probably be a long time before he enters another draft without a second-round pick. It’s just too frustrating. Lesson learned.