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Late for Work 4/24: Patrick Queen Pick Gets A+ Grades; 10 Takeaways


"I love it when a plan comes together."

-- Col. John "Hannibal" Smith

Despite all the hours upon hours of planning that NFL teams put into the draft, one never really knows how the board is going to fall, and that can be nerve-wracking when you're selecting way down at No. 28.

Sometimes, though, everything just falls into place, and a team gets a player it loves who fills a need and, oh by the way, is a guy they had rated as the best player available at that point.

That's what happened last night when LSU inside linebacker Patrick Queen was still there when the Ravens were on the clock.

Below are 10 takeaways and tidbits from the first night of the draft:

1) Patrick Queen Is No. 1 Value Pick in First Round

Ravens fans' excitement over the team getting Queen with the 28th-overall selection is absolutely justified. That's not a hot take; it's what analytics indicate.

Using a model that weighs players' projected output against where they were selected, NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund said Queen was the best value pick in the first round.

"The 12.5 tackles for loss he produced last season at LSU is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the predictive metrics that show why he's such a great value," Frelund wrote. "Queen had 16 pressures (tied for the most among linebackers in the SEC) on 76 pass-rush snaps (third-most among linebackers in the SEC), per PFF. He was also super efficient in coverage, recording the second-fewest yards allowed per coverage snap (0.5 yards) despite having the most snaps in coverage by any linebacker in the SEC (363).

"What the data is basically telling us is that Queen is an incredibly versatile player who projects to help the second level of any defense. But his impact should be even more pronounced now that he's paired with the Ravens. In 2019, Baltimore blitzed at the highest rate of any team since 2016 (50.8 percent), per Next Gen Stats. When the Ravens rushed four or fewer pass rushers, they only managed a 17.1 QB pressure rate (the only team under 19 percent on non-blitzes). Queen's presence on the field forecasts an increase in their ability to be multiple and pressure opposing QBs without having to rely on blitzing."

Frelund had Queen ranked as the 16th-best player overall. He was even higher (15th) on NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 150 prospect rankings. The player drafted one spot ahead of Queen -- Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks -- didn't make Jeremiah's top 50.

The Seahawks selecting Brooks ahead of Queen was one of the biggest surprises of the night, Draft Wire’s Patrick Conn wrote.

2) Pundits Praise Pick

The Ravens' selection of Queen was met with a universally favorable reaction from analysts. Here's a sample of what they said and their grades:

The Ringer’s Danny Kelly: "Grade: A-plus. Queen is the prototype of a modern off-ball linebacker, a fluid, instinctive backer with athleticism and incredible versatility to play in coverage, as a blitzer, and as a run defender. … Queen is an ascending player whose best football is in front of him. Love this pick, and love the fit."’s Chad Reuter: "Grade: A. The Ravens stayed put at 28 and let their guy Queen fall to them, in typical Eric DeCosta fashion. Queen plugs right into the starting lineup, will fly into holes and to the sideline to attack ball-carriers."

Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit: "Grade: A-. It's an incredibly tall order for this particular linebacker to step in and contribute right away on a Super Bowl-ready team. But Queen is gifted, he improved noticeably over the course of 2019 and the Ravens have one of the best young assistant coaches in the league in linebackers coach Mike Macdonald. And because the Ravens so often play with dime personnel—meaning six defensive backs and just one linebacker—Macdonald can focus solely on Queen when he's on the field in dime (which, this team hopes, will be on a majority of snaps)."

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: "Grade: B. I love this pick. I think Queen is going to be a star in this defense. I think this kid's range is outstanding. He can go sideline to sideline."

USA Today: "Another beauty of a pick by this franchise, which really needed to upgrade at the second level. Queen … is going to provide the sideline-to-sideline coverage modern backers need in a league where the passing game has become so prevalent."

Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler: "Grade: A-plus. This is a big upgrade at linebacker. The Ravens defense looks scary good and the value of this pick is delightful."

3) Report: Ravens Tried to Trade for DeAndre Hopkins Last Month

Less than two hours before the start of the draft, NFL Network’s Michael Silver tweeted that the Ravens were among the teams who "made a run" at DeAndre Hopkins before the Houston Texans traded the star wide receiver to the Arizona Cardinals in March, "according to multiple sources."

Silver added that it wouldn't be a surprise if the Ravens took a wide receiver in the first round. In response, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted: "And they could trade up to do it."

Or not. DeCosta said he made calls about moving up, but nothing obviously materialized and he didn't tip his hand on who he would have targeted.

4) Ravens Players, Olympic Gold Medalist Welcome Queen to Baltimore

A number of Ravens players, as well as Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, welcomed Queen to Baltimore on Twitter:

5) Queen Makes Ravens Draft History

By selecting Queen, the Ravens drafted a player from LSU for the first time in their 25-year history.

DeCosta jokingly said that Executive Vice President and Alabama alumni Ozzie Newsome's video feed went out just before the Ravens made the pick.

"He kept saying something, but we muted him," DeCosta joked. "He kept waving his hands, then his video went out. That's the thing with technology sometimes, it can be manipulated. Maybe it was the Russians."

The Ravens have drafted more players from Alabama and Oklahoma -- 11 each -- than any other school.

"It's a good time to look at LSU, especially if you're searching for your next defensive centerpiece," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "Two Pro Bowl middle linebackers (Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones) and a top-five pick from last year (Devin White) all played at LSU."

6) No Joy in New Orleans

DeCosta and others in the organization were likely holding their collective breath when the Saints were on the clock at No. 24. The Saints and Queen seemed like a perfect match.

Queen grew up in Ventress, La., a small town 30 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, and was a star football player at nearby Livonia High School before heading to LSU. Saints fans had to be thrilled when Queen was still on the board, but the team selected Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.

There's a video of Queen watching TV as the Saints picked Ruiz, and someone off camera can be heard saying, "You just upset the whole state of Louisiana, Pat."

When Queen was asked by Louisiana sportscaster Jacques Doucet about the feedback he's gotten from Saints fans, he said: "I got a lot of tags on Twitter, fans saying, 'We still love you. Please don't be mad at us. It wasn't our decision.'"

Queen actually said he felt a sense of relief when his hometown team didn't pick him because he wanted to be a Raven the whole time.

7) Queen's in Good Company

Queen is just the third inside linebacker taken by the Ravens in the first round. The other two are Ray Lewis (No. 26 in 1996) and C.J. Mosley (No. 17 in 2014).

Lewis, a member of the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, and Mosley went to a combined 17 Pro Bowls.

8) Lamar Jackson Offers Advice to Newly Drafted Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson reflected on his draft night from two years ago with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and offered his advice to the quarterbacks drafted this year.

"A lot of things are going to change dramatically," Jackson said. "The closest people to you might change … You're going to see new people come, old people come, and the people who didn't love you before are going to love you out of nowhere (laughs). So just be prepared."

9) AFC North Draft Roundup

As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. The Cleveland Browns boosted their offensive line by picking Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills with the 10th-overall selection.

The Pittsburgh Steelers did not have a first-round pick. They traded it to the Miami Dolphins last September for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

10) What's Next for Ravens?

Baltimore has four picks on Day Two of the draft, which begins tonight at 7 p.m. The Ravens own two picks in the second round (Nos. 55 and 60) and two in the third (Nos. 92 and 106).

The team can address its needs at wide receiver, interior offensive line and edge rusher.

DeCosta said there are "25 or 30 players right now that I think can really contribute right away for us next year.

"I love the board, I love the players available. I think you've got some offensive linemen we like, some receivers and defensive linemen we like, some running backs — it's a strong group available."

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