Ravens' Draft Receives High Marks
The NFL draft report cards have started to come out and the Ravens are on the honor roll once again.
The Ravens' front office receiving praise for its drafting acumen has basically become an annual occurrence. The phrase "In Ozzie We Trust" became part of the Baltimore sports lexicon years ago in large part because of the wizardly drafting prowess of longtime General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
Newsome's successor, Eric DeCosta, has picked up right where his mentor left off. As with DeCosta's first draft as GM last year, he is being lauded for his performance in this weekend's draft. "In DeCosta We Truzz."
"The Baltimore Ravens, as always, they just sit and be patient and let good players fall right in their laps," said NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, who named the Ravens as one of the two teams who improved the most during the draft. "Ozzie Newsome did it, we saw Eric DeCosta do it as well."
Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer: A+
"Yes, purple did reign supreme in this draft with Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh also looking like two princes of prospects. [Patrick] Queen and [Malik] Harrison were amazing gets to improve their linebacker weakness. [J.K.] Dobbins was an unexpected Round 2 steal who can be absolutely dominant in Baltimore's league best-rushing attack. [Justin] Madubuike is a key piece for the defense, too, after losing Michael Pierce in free agency and they have a couple options at guard to replace the retired Marshal Yanda. [Devin] Duvernay gives Lamar Jackson another speed merchant and [James] Proche is a nice sleeper at the same position."
Bleacher Report's Jake Rill: A+
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.: A (only one)
"Baltimore fortified the middle of its defense -- it gave up 4.4 yards per carry last season, most in franchise history -- got a playmaker to help Jackson in the slot, and picked a tackle with guard experience who will could compete to take over for [Marshal] Yanda, along with fourth-round pick Ben Bredeson (143rd pick). I'm also a big fan of James Proche (201), a super-productive pass-catcher who could fill a role, and safety Geno Stone (219) could be a special-teams menace as a rookie. Getting him in the seventh round is stellar. General Manager Eric DeCosta had another really strong draft. Expect Baltimore to be a Super Bowl contender again."
NFL.com's Chad Reuter: A
"Just another outstanding draft for GM Eric DeCosta, finding good value at every pick in the first three rounds and meeting most of the team's top needs. It wasn't surprising to see the Ravens pick Bredeson given how much they loved having another Big Ten guard for the past decade: Marshal Yanda from Iowa. [Broderick] Washington is an active nose tackle who will be effective in a rotation. Proche might be the steal of the draft, or it might be Stone. It's criminal that DeCosta is this good at drafting players."
USA Today's Nate Davis: A
"Few teams scout the college ranks with more prescience, and last year's handover from Ozzie Newsome to current GM Eric DeCosta has been seamless. This seems like another enviable batch, DeCosta shoring up defensive shortcomings – so evident in the playoff loss to Tennessee – with LBs Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison and DL Justin Madubuike while supercharging what was an already record-setting offense with RB J.K. Dobbins and WR Devin Duvernay. Queen and Duvernay seem especially capable of making huge splashes as rookies, but keep an eye on Round 6 WR James Proche, like Duvernay, a 100-catch man in college."
SB Nation's Dan Kadar: A
"As they often do, the Ravens cleaned up in the draft. In the first round, the team let the best player available drop to them when they took LSU linebacker Patrick Queen at No. 28. He's the sort of sideline-to-sideline linebacker Baltimore's defense badly needed. In the second round, the Ravens let another player fall to them in running back J.K. Dobbins. He was the fifth running back off the board, and could assume the lead running back role before long. In the third round, Baltimore filled needs with its four picks. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike is the kind of player who can play inside and outside for Baltimore, wide receiver Devin Duvernay gives them a weapon in the slot, and linebacker Malik Harrison is good depth, at worst. Tyre Phillips of Mississippi State and fourth-round pick Ben Bredeson give the Ravens more bodies on the offensive line."
New York Post's Ryan Dunleavy: A
"Run the ball, stop the run. Just keep solidifying a timeless winning identity. Queen is the prototypical Raven, but sleeper Duvernay had 106 catches last season."
Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit: A-
"It's a little surprising the Ravens did not address the wide receiver position earlier considering that their top target, Hollywood Brown, would be fantastic as a dynamic No. 2 option. As it stands, they don't have a proven big-bodied X-receiver to align opposite Brown. Devin Duvernay will likely be lining up inside of Brown, as a slot weapon who possesses run-after-catch ability."
The Washington Post's Mark Maske: B+
"General Manager Eric DeCosta had a very good draft and is proving to be a worthy successor to the masterful Ozzie Newsome. First-round LB Patrick Queen is a perfect fit for the Baltimore defense, and second-round RB J.K. Dobbins can split carries with Mark Ingram and improve a rushing offense that already was record-setting."
Pro Football Focus: B
"This Patrick Queen selection at 28 was one of PFF's favorite picks of the first round, especially after the Los Angeles Chargers moved up to take a linebacker at pick 23 and the Seattle Seahawks went linebacker right in front of Baltimore at 27, and both teams took players we ranked significantly lower than Queen at the position. Queen is an elite athlete who can bring positive play in coverage (81.8 coverage grade in 2019) and get sideline to sideline on that defense. He may not have the ability to take on blockers in the run game like some of the other prospects in the class, but his explosiveness and smoothness as an athlete more than makes up for that."
Ravens Pulling Further Away in AFC North
The Ravens won the AFC North by six games last year, but Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr believes they have widened the gap even further. In his column on the winners and losers of the draft prior to Day 3, Orr placed the AFC North in the latter category.
"Baltimore is hitting its stride right now, dominating not only free agency but the early portions of the draft," Orr wrote. "Adding J.K. Dobbins at the top of the second round, followed by Malik Harrison at the end of the third, the Ravens continue to double down on the elements of their offense and defense that made them a breakout team in 2019.
"Despite a quantum leap at offensive line for the Browns, and the Steelers nabbing the talented Chase Claypool at the top of the second round, it seems like Eric DeCosta and Co. are putting some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the division."
Praise for Day 3 Picks
Here's what pundits are saying about the players the Ravens drafted on Day 3:
Round 4, No. 143: Ben Bredeson, OG, Michigan
Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler: "Grade: A. This is a great pick. The competition the Ravens are going to have for the starting right guard spot is going to be exciting."
Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier: "Grade: A-. There is no replacing retired guard Marshal Yanda with a middle-round pick, but Bredeson will be one of the players vying to step into Yanda's shoes. The Ravens continue to quietly crush the middle rounds of this draft, like they have done in so many others."
Baltimore Beatdown's Frank J. Platko: "Grade: B+. He's a solid scheme fit and possesses the pedigree that the Ravens need at the position with Marshal Yanda no longer in the mix."
CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso*:* "Grade: B. Safe pick for Baltimore. Doubling up on the offensive line. Bredeson has a decently high floor, yet no trump card. Love his experience. Always in the right position."
Ravens Wire's Alex Bente: "Grade: B. As a stout and effective run-blocker, this choice makes a lot of sense for Baltimore's power-heavy approach on offense."
Round 5, No. 170: Broderick Washington Jr., DT, Texas Tech
Ravens Wire's Vasilios Nikolaou: "Washington utilized his great strength and a bulldog mentality that matches the mean streaks of his opposition to disrupt offensive game plans. He's a leader, earning team-captain status at Texas Tech. After looking at some of his plays, he reminds me a bit of Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams. He relies primarily on brute force to make his way into the backfield."
Round 6, No. 201: James Proche, WR, SMU
Tanier: "Grade: Excellent. He's a fine fit for the Ravens offense and yet another example of how they take nearly every other organization to school in the middle and later rounds of the draft."
Trapasso: "Grade: A. Savvy route-runner who gets open more than his athleticism would suggest. Ridiculous ball skills. Attacks the football with reckless abandon. Some YAC wiggle too. Impressive value here for Baltimore."
NFL.com's Mark Dulgerian: "Proche arguably has the best hands in this year's draft class. He won't make the Ravens' track team, but he could emerge as a solid possession depth receiver. If they need someone to convert a key third-down catch, he may be their best option."
Round 7, No. 219: Geno Stone, S, Iowa
Schisler: "Grade: A+. I thought Stone should have gone off the board in the third round. Maybe the NFL knew something I didn't, yet this is a prospect who fell way too far in my opinion. … This was one of my favorite picks of the entire draft."
Trapasso: "Grade: A-. Stone is a lower-level athlete for the safety spot but plays two steps faster than his combine because of genius instincts in coverage. Holds his own against the run."
Platko: "Stone had mid-round value to many and landing him here in the seventh frame is a steal, no doubt. Stone's athletic testing at the combine left much to be desired but looking past that, he brings numerous qualities to the table: intangibles, instincts, range and pedigree. Stone is a hard-nosed player and fills a need for depth behind Earl Thomas III."
Ravens Reportedly Sign Son of Pro Wrestler, Other Interesting Undrafted Buzz
As someone who has worked in and covered pro wrestling for many years, I can't pass up an opportunity to mention that the Ravens reportedly signed undrafted Kennesaw State fullback Bronson Rechsteiner, the son of former pro wrestler Rick Steiner.
Rick Steiner, a wrestling star in the 1980s and 1990s, was known as "The Dog-Faced Gremlin" and was part of a highly decorated tag team with his brother Scott, aka "Big Poppa Pump."
Rechsteiner may not have a colorful moniker, but he did lead Kennesaw State's option offense in rushing, gaining 909 yards on 8 yards per carry. He also inherited his father and uncle's strength, as he recorded 35 reps on the bench press at Kennesaw State's pro day, which would have been the third-best at the NFL Combine, per ESPN.
Another interesting reported undrafted free-agent signing is former Utah quarterback Tyler Hundley, who was a childhood football rival of Lamar Jackson's in Broward County.
After not drafting a tight end, the Ravens also reportedly landed Oregon tight end Jake Breeland, who had 26 catches for 405 yards and six touchdowns in six games last season before breaking his leg. He's apparently healthy and could land as the team's No. 3 tight end replacing Hayden Hurst.
Follow the latest buzz at our undrafted rookie Rumor Mill.
Justin Tucker Was Ready to Save the Day
Justin Tucker rarely fails to come through in the clutch, whether it's attempting a game-winning field goal or coming to the rescue when there's a power outage on draft day.
After the power went out in the Baltimore area yesterday morning with Day 3 of the NFL's first-ever virtual draft set to get underway at noon, the Ravens kicker reached out to Head Coach John Harbaugh and offered to bring over a generator if needed.
It turned out Tucker's assistance wasn't necessary, but it's nice to know he's willing to lend a hand, in addition to a foot, to help the Ravens' cause.
- NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal likened Dobbins to Pro Football Hall of Famer and NFL all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith: "Dobbins reminds me of Emmitt Smith, a steady, three-down option who knows how to set up defenders and will consistently get more than what's blocked."