Eric DeCosta’s first draft as Ravens General Manager is in the books, and he feels good about how the story will play out.
Speed and versatility were added to the offense with three of the Ravens’ first four picks - wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin; and running back Justice Hill. The Ravens have talked the entire offseason about building an offense around quarterback Lamar Jackson. While the draft also addressed other needs, the goal to acquire more offensive speed was accomplished.
“I think it just makes it hard to focus on one guy,” DeCosta said. “We played a lot of teams, really good offenses, this year. I had a chance to sit up in the press box and watch some of these offenses, and one of the main common denominators is speed. It makes it tough as a defense. As good as our defense has been, it’s a challenge for a team to face speed when you have multiple guys on the field at the same time who can run and make explosive plays. We got a chance to see what Lamar can do this past year, and I think our vision, collective vision, for the offense is to add more guys like that to make it really challenging on the defense.”
Here’s a quick rundown on the Ravens’ draft class, and how each piece may fit moving forward:
First round (25th overall): WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Oklahoma
How he fits: He’s the primary deep threat the Ravens need to keep opponents from packing the line of scrimmage to stop their running game. Not only is Brown fast, he has change-of-direction quickness. You don’t always have to throw deep to Brown. Get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways, and let his playmaking take over.
“We can play him inside, outside, short, deep, all kinds of things, and we’re really only limited by our imagination,” Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said.
Third round (85th overall): OLB Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
How he fits: Turning Ferguson loose to chase opposing quarterbacks, especially in obvious passing situations, will be the plan. After losing Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, the Ravens needed a natural pass rusher and feel fortunate that Ferguson, the FBS all-time leader in sacks, fell to them in Round 3. According to DeCosta, nobody was happier to see Ferguson still on the board than Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale.
“It ended up being very fortuitous for us, because he was there, and there was some elation in the draft room,” DeCosta said. “Coach Martindale was very excited to get him, and it was a good feeling.”
Third round (95th overall): WR Miles Boykin, Notre Dame
How he fits: Taking two wide receivers in his first three picks as general manager, DeCosta aggressively attacked a position of need. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Boykin gives Jackson another big target. Jackson established chemistry with wide receiver Willie Snead IV last season, and the hope is that the same will happen with Boykin.
Fourth round (113th overall) RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
How he fits: Hill’s speed could make him the sleeper of this draft class. The Ravens are deep at running back with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Kenneth Dixon, but none of them have Hill’s 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash. The change-of-pace Hill can provide could result in big plays.
Fourth round (123rd overall): G Ben Powers, Oklahoma
How he fits: They’ll be competition for the starting spot at left guard and throw Powers into that mix.It’s clear the Ravens like the competitive nature of former Oklahoma players. There are three others on the roster – safety Tony Jefferson, tight end Mark Andrews, and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr, who attended Powers’ draft party.
“Orlando, he was yelling more than I was,” Powers said.
Fourth round (127th overall): CB Iman Marshall, USC
How he fits: There’s no need to rush Marshall onto the field, because the Ravens are deep at corner. But Marshall is 6-foot-1 with a long wing span, and he is a good tackler. Those are traits that not all cornerbacks possess. He could initially contribute on special teams while being groomed for a larger role in the future.
Fifth round (160th overall): DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
How he fits: Mack was always a solid run defender in college, but he blossomed as a pass rusher last season with 5 ½ sacks. The Ravens are always looking for athletic defensive linemen to throw into their playing rotation, and Mack will have a chance to compete for snaps.
Sixth round (197th overall): QB Trace McSorley, Penn State
How he fits: The Ravens drafted McSorley primarily for a quarterback skill, and he could see plenty of preseason action as a backup to Jackson and Robert Griffin III. However, McSorley is a gifted athlete who could be used as quarterback/runner/receiver in certain packages if he shows he can handle it.
Check out images of Baltimore's eight-man draft class from their college days.