The Ravens began the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft Thursday night really hoping they could land a starting caliber inside linebacker.
Sure, they also would have settled for a player at any one of several other positions, but as Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said after the first round Thursday night, inside linebacker was "a position of need."
They got exactly what they wanted and needed when they used the No. 28 overall pick to select Patrick Queen, a fast, play-making inside linebacker from LSU who figures to start right away in the middle of the Ravens' defense.
But they needed a few breaks to go their way in order for the pick to turn out so well.
The first break was a run on quarterbacks, offensive tackles, cornerbacks and wide receivers early in the first round. Fourteen of the first 19 picks were at those positions, leaving a handful of players the Ravens had targeted still available toward the end of the round.
But one of those players, Kenneth Murray, an inside linebacker from Oklahoma, came off the board when the Los Angeles Chargers traded up and took him at No. 23, five picks before the Ravens were up. Between that and the fact that it was a night when trade talks tended to fizzle, DeCosta said, the Ravens' margin of error suddenly was pretty narrow. It was hard to know whether Queen would still be there when they picked.
All the Ravens could do was hold their breath and hope for the best when the New Orleans Saints were on the clock at No. 24. The Saints needed an inside linebacker. Queen obviously would be a great fit. He's a Louisiana native who played a key role in LSU's national championship season in 2019.
But the Saints took a center, Michigan's Cesar Ruiz, enabling the Ravens to exhale. Queen was still available.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said later that the Saints' selection of Ruiz was the key to the Ravens getting Queen.
Another break went the Ravens' way right before they were on the clock. The Seattle Seahawks were up at No. 27, and as it turned out, they also were in the market for an inside linebacker. Yikes.
But the Seahawks took Texas Tech's Jordyn Brooks, an inside linebacker who is talented but rated below Queen in the eyes of many draft experts.
Finally, the uncertainty was over and the Ravens could take Queen at No. 28.
DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh were all smiles when they spoke to reporters about Queen on a video conference call shortly after the selection.
"Not only does he fill a need, but he was the very best player available on our board at the time when we picked. When that happens, it's a great win for the organization," DeCosta said.
Was he nervous things might not work out?
"You're always concerned," he said.
But it turned out a few unsettling hours were all the Ravens had to pay to acquire a player who, as DeCosta said, "is just a great fit for our defense."
Queen plays linebacker the way it's done now, more with speed and agility than brute force. He's smaller than Murray, but the Ravens don't mind that because they've bulked up their defensive line with Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe.
"He makes us so fast," DeCosta said, "and we think he's going to be great behind these guys we added this year."
In other words, the Ravens envision their bigger D-line freeing up Queen to do his thing, i.e., make plays from sideline to sideline.
"He just really fits us," DeCosta said.
They knew it when the night began, and they were smiling about it when the night ended, but only after enduring a few nervous moments.
"Fortunately, it all worked out," DeCosta said.