Safety Geno Stone Falling to Round 7 Stuns Several Pundits
When NFL pundits talk about players who were steals in the draft, they're often referring to guys who fell in the first round or those who went Day 3 instead of Day 2.
The Ravens got great value in selecting LSU linebacker Patrick Queen at No. 28 overall and Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins at 55, but "the biggest steal in the draft" was Baltimore landing Iowa safety Geno Stone in the seventh round with the 219th pick, according to Pro Football Focus’ Andy Treash.
PFF had Stone ranked 53rd on its big board.
"We were far higher than anyone on Geno Stone and knew he wouldn't be an early pick — but a seventh-rounder!? His instincts are up there with the best of the best," Treash wrote. "Stone is a quick playmaker and isn't going to get caught off guard to be made responsible for any big play in coverage. He actually made more plays on the ball (11) than first downs allowed (9) while also giving up the fewest yards per coverage snap among safeties (0.25). And he did it at 19 and 20 years old."
Treash isn't the only pundit who's high on Stone. PFF lead draft analyst Mike Renner named Stone as his favorite pick in the draft, and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah listed Stone as one of the best value selections.
"This has been my guy through the draft process," Jeremiah said during Saturday's telecast of the draft. "When I talked to general managers and personnel executives, I go, 'Tell me what I'm missing on Geno Stone. Because I have a big grade on Geno Stone — he's my 12th safety. What am I missing?' I couldn't get any support for him around the league."
Being undervalued is nothing new for Stone. He wanted to play for his home-state team, Penn State, but didn't get a scholarship offer. Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, who was the Ravens Offensive Coordinator in 1997-1998, couldn't believe Stone wasn't more heavily recruited by big-time college programs.
"My first question when I saw film (of him) was, 'What is wrong with this guy? Did he rob a bank?'" Ferentz said during Stone’s sophomore season. "He looked like a good player to me."
The Ravens don't have an immediate need at safety. Seven-time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas III and Chuck Clark are the starters, and DeShon Elliott and Anthony Levine Sr. are solid backups. That said, the 5-foot-10, 207-pound Stone possesses qualities that made him attractive to the organization.
In addition to providing more depth at safety, Stone could be a strong special teams player.
"You just watch how he processes things," Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz said. "He's really quick to pick up routes coming across. [He] drives up quick, takes things away, shows a feel for the quarterback. He can identify run action quickly. So, what you do is you watch the guy process what he's seeing as the play is going on. When you watch Geno, you see a guy that really does have a good feel for what's happening in front of him and is able to pick up keys and react quickly to take things away."
On a side note, another of the Ravens' late-round selections has received praise. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. chose SMU wide receiver James Proche as his favorite pick of the sixth round.
J.K. Dobbins, Ravens Are a Perfect Fit
Coming off a season in which the Ravens set the single-season record for rushing yards, the teams' selection of a running back in the second round had some pundits and fans scratching their heads. However, the majority of NFL analysts have lauded the Ravens for making a strength even stronger.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks ranked Dobbins at No. 3 on his top 10 list of players who landed with teams that best fit their talents.
"Despite fielding the NFL's top-ranked rushing attack with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards thriving behind dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson, the Ravens upgraded their RB1 spot with the addition of Dobbins," Brooks wrote. "The 5-foot-9, 209-pounder is a dynamic runner with outstanding vision, balance and body control. He rushed for 2,000-plus yards during his final season at Ohio State while exhibiting the strength, stamina and endurance to carry the load as a workhorse runner.
"With Ravens' runners averaging 5.09 yards per carry in Jackson's 22 career starts, Dobbins could play at a Pro Bowl level as a rookie in a read-option offense that routinely gashes defenses lacking discipline at the point of attack."
NBC Sports Washington’s Andrew Gillis agrees that Dobbins could be a major contributor in 2020 even though the Ravens have Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram II returning, as well as Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
"As for the immediate future, the Ravens didn't draft Dobbins to sit on the bench. They'll likely use him to take the load off of both [Lamar] Jackson and Ingram," Gillis wrote "But Dobbins' addition likely means the introduction of more rotation in the backfield, as well as the potential for two-back sets that don't include fullback Patrick Ricard. Either way, the Ravens will get a running back in Dobbins that will likely be the starter in 2022, and perhaps even 2021 — depending upon what the Ravens think of Ingram's contract."
NFL Network's Brian Baldinger also thinks selecting Dobbins was a wise move by Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta despite running back not being an obvious need.
"I don't think that running back was a position that they thought they would take with the 55th pick, but you can't deny the talent that J.K. Dobbins is," Baldinger said on 105.7 The Fan’s “Vinny and Haynie Show.”
More Love for DeCosta and the Ravens' Draft
Are you tired of hearing about how much the pundits loved the Ravens' draft? No, me neither.
Here's a sample of some of the most recent comments from pundits on DeCosta and the Ravens:
Baldinger: "The Baltimore Ravens won this year's draft, hands down. They moved up and down the board, ultimately making 10 picks and drafting almost every position. The biggest thing that caught my eye was that they didn't reach early on but let the draft come to them when selecting linebacker Patrick Queen (No. 28 overall) and running back J.K. Dobbins (No. 55 overall). General Manager Eric DeCosta did a masterful job finding good value and addressing needs from top to bottom."
NFL.com’s Adam Schein: "Vintage Ravens draft. Patrick Queen was a perfect pick at linebacker near the end of Round 1. J.K. Dobbins was put on Earth to run the ball for Baltimore. And I really liked the Devin Duvernay pick in Round 3. Another speed merchant for Lamar Jackson to play with? Yes, please! The transition from the great Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta has gone swimmingly. This was another great weekend for the second-year general manager."
NFL.com’s David Carr: "There were two teams that really stood out to me -- the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. Both of these teams were exceptional last season, so it's hard to believe that they got better over the last week. But they did. I loved what Ravens GM Eric DeCosta did on Day 2 when he selected RB J.K. Dobbins and WR Devin Duvernay to boost an already dynamic offense and added depth to the defensive front seven. By the look of John Harbaugh's ecstatic reactions, he loved it, too."
NFL.com’s James Jones: "I'm keeping this one real simple. The Baltimore Ravens were one of the best teams in the league in 2019 and improved this weekend thanks to Eric DeCosta's ability to perfectly execute a draft. First-round pick Patrick Queen should make an immediate impact in the middle of the defense, and second-round RB J.K. Dobbins adds even more sizzle to the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense. Then sprinkle in needed depth across the roster, and this Ravens team looks destined for a big 2020."
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora: "The Ravens knew one of the top linebackers would still be there for them at 28, with that not being a coveted position, and although they have needs on the offensive side of the ball, they ended up using four of their first six picks on linemen/front seven players. Receiver and guard were significant needs, but Baltimore read the board perfectly, stayed out of the initial wave of 16 receivers among the first two rounds, traded back and still got a speedy pass catcher they targeted – Devin Duvernay of Texas. They were willing to take a defensive lineman ahead of Duvernay in the second round – Justin Madubuike – whom sources said the Vikings were trying to trade back into the second round to get, and correctly read that Duvernay would be there for them 21 picks later. Well done."
Ravens Hold Firm in Post-Draft Power Rankings
The post-draft power rankings are out. Here's a look at where the Ravens stand:
Sports Illustrated: No. 2. "Patrick Mahomes won MVP in his breakout second season, then won a Super Bowl the next year. The Ravens are hoping Lamar Jackson follows the same trajectory."
USA Today’s Touchdown Wire: No. 2. "These are solid [draft] picks and just add to a team that finished 14-2 a year ago and looked like they were headed to a showdown with Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game. Nothing that happened this weekend should drop them from the No. 2 spot."
Sporting News: No. 2. "The Ravens lost Marshal Yanda to retirement but they have a couple rookie replacements options. They also upgraded skill positions around Lamar Jackson with J.K. Dobbins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. They also were aggressive in filling defensive holes with Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Patrick Queen, Justin Madubuike and Malik Harrison. The Ravens' offensive prowess should be complemented with more playmaking on the other side."
NFL.com: No. 3. "Queen and trade acquisition Calais Campbell have upgraded the Ravens' front seven in a big way. Baltimore and Kansas City are the clear class of the AFC."
The Comeback.com: No. 3. "The offense is set for the league's only 14-win team from 2019, and now they've added Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen on D. Come on!"
- FoxSports.com graded the NFL war rooms, and John Harbaugh's birdhouses warranted an A.
- The Athletic and Sports Illustrated released their first 2021 mock drafts with Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore and Florida State safety Hamsah Nasirildeen as the picks, respectively.
- Former pro wrestling star Rick Steiner told TMZ Sports he's "super, super proud" of his son, Bronson Rechsteiner, a fullback out of Kennesaw State, for signing with the Ravens.