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Late for Work 4/29: Ravens Score Very High Draft Grades

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Analyst Picks Brown as Offensive ROY

We’re only two days removed from the 2019 NFL Draft, and the hype is already starting to build around Marquise Brown.

The Ravens’ first-round draft pick has yet to see the field and pundits are setting high expectations for his rookie campaign.

NFL Network’s “Draft Tonight” crew shared which draft pick will win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Matt “Money” Smith made Brown his pick.

“You know what? I appreciate you mentioning the name Brown because the Offensive Rookie of the Year is named Brown, ‘Hollywood’ Brown,” Smith said.

NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew, who picked Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs, questioned Smith’s pick, saying, “They may only throw the ball to him two times a game.”

“They may be touchdowns,” added Bucky Brooks.

Smith heard the concerns, but still stuck with his pick.

How many targets are they going to have a game, eight or nine?” Smith said. “How many is he going to have? Probably eight or nine – that’s all it’s going to be. And you said it … he’s going to be a major impact.”

“Although he likely won’t be a high-volume target due to scheme, Brown needs only a handful of plays each game to make an impact on the scoreboard,” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote. “He has special speed, and I’m eager to see how the Ravens incorporate his explosive athleticism within that offense.”

No Ravens player has won Offensive Rookie of Year, but there’s a good reason to believe Brown could be the first.

Brown was the Big 12’s leading receiver over the past two seasons, totaling 2,413 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. His speed and explosiveness have Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi and others comparing Brown to Tyreek Hill and DeSean Jackson, two of the NFL’s most dangerous deep threats.

“The Ravens have long been criticized for lacking playmakers but with the selection of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, they’ve landed one,” Lombardi wrote. “Brown will command attention in the secondary and his skill set has been compared to that of Jackson and Hill. The defensive commitment to control Brown will allow the Ravens other offensive weapons to find opportunities for success.”

Headlined by Brown’s addition, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal labeled the Ravens’ wide receivers as one of the most improved groups following the draft.

The Ravens showed a clear commitment to improving the wide receiver core over the weekend, using two of their first three picks on the position.

“Eric DeCosta entered his first draft as GM knowing he needed wideouts,” Rosenthal wrote. “He found the perfect option for his offense after trading down in the first round, landing Brown 25th overall, and he grabbed a high-ceiling third-round pick in Notre Dame's Miles Boykin.

“In the case of both players, the Ravens found explosive athletes who can get behind the defense and create plays on their own after the catch. Quarterback Lamar Jackson showed a better deep ball in college than he did as an NFL rookie last season, and both pickups play to that strength.”

DeCosta Earns Strong Reviews in First Draft

Eric DeCosta’s first draft as general manager is in the books. Here’s a look at how pundits are grading the Ravens’ haul.

NFL.com’s Chad Reuter, A: “If Brown has that sort of career, the Ravens will have done well. Ferguson could have gone much earlier, so I suspect Baltimore fans will come to appreciate his talents. Adding a larger receiver in Boykin made sense with the lack of wideout depth for Ravens. Hill brings speed and underrated toughness to complement Mark Ingram. Powers could take over for Marshal Yanda as a starter eventually. Marshall was a great pick for Baltimore because they will eventually need to replace Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. Mack is yet another sparkplug in the middle for the Ravens. McSorley would seem to fit the Ravens' current offense and could contribute at another position, if needed.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, B-plus: “Wide receiver is the position that could most help [Lamar] Jackson in 2019, and that's exactly where Baltimore went in Round 1, snagging the best receiver in the class in Marquise Brown (No. 25) after trading down three spots and adding a couple of Day 3 picks. Baltimore also added a really good athlete in wide receiver Miles Boykin (No. 93). He only had one consistent year at Notre Dame, but the skill set (4.42-second 40 at 6-foot-4) jumps out.

Jaylon Ferguson (No. 85) might bulk up to play end in the Ravens' 3-4 … Justice Hill (No. 113) is a good complementary piece to Mark Ingram at running back … Jackson's development is so crucial to this team. If he's improved as a passer, it will be partially because Brown and Boykin helped him get there. I like what DeCosta did in trying to upgrade around the quarterback.”

Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit, B: “The selection of Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin in Rounds 1 and 3 fill a desperate need at wide receiver for the Ravens. Brown has the type of speed and quickness that makes a defense passive, which will help Baltimore’s new expansive running game. Boykin might be more of a project, but in this lineup, that shouldn’t stop him from getting a first-string role outside. Selecting OLB Jaylon Ferguson between the receivers was prudent … Baltimore’s fourth round focused on buttressing depth at already strong areas: running back Justice Hill puts last year’s surprise late-season starter Gus Edwards on the roster bubble, Ben Powers figures to be a backup utility guard and Iman Marshall is, well, an extra corner for if/when Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr leave in 2020.”

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar, B: “After sliding down to No. 25, they took the first wide receiver off the board in Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown. He can take the top off a defense and give Lamar Jackson a good deep target. The Ravens added more speed in the third round with Notre Dame’ receiver Miles Boykin, and then again with Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill at No. 113. He’s a nice complement for Mark Ingram. Since this is the Ravens, they addressed the front of the defense with end Jaylon Ferguson at No. 85 and nose tackle Daylon Mack at No. 160. In between, they beefed up the offensive line with Oklahoma guard Ben Powers. Finally, Trace McSorley is a solid backup quarterback because he can do some of the same things as Jackson.”

USA Today’s Nate Davis, B: “The combo of Round 1 WR Marquise Brown and Round 3 WR Miles Boykin brings a nice dose of speed and size, respectively, and should dovetail with what Jackson currently provides as a raw passer. The question may be whether DeCosta did enough to reload the gutted front seven of a defense that ranked No. 1 overall in 2018, especially given a fourth-round running back (talented Justice Hill) seems luxurious. Round 6 QB Trace McSorley is a great fit behind Jackson and might also contribute in other areas.

Could Justice Hill Be Mark Ingram’s New Alvin Kamara?

There could be a lethal running back duo brewing in Baltimore

The Ravens signed Mark Ingram to a three-year deal this offseason to help bolster one of the league-leading rushing attacks. They added to the group over the weekend, selecting Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill.

NFL Network analyst and Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis believes Hill is in the best situation to contribute right away among the rookie running back class.

Paired with Mark Ingram, Hill could be his new Alvin Kamara.

“[Hill] can act as Kamara in the backfield,” Davis said. “You’ve got Lamar Jackson as your quarterback, they’ve got Hollywood Brown as a deep receiver. That offense is going to be wide open. [Hill] will have plenty of opportunity to be a big timer and he’s a fourth-round draft pick so there’s not a lot of pressure on him. He is going to the best situation possible.”

Hill will have to improve as a pass-catcher at the NFL level to reach any kind of production that Kamara has had, but one of the main reasons why he’s considered a good fit with the Ravens is his running style.

Like Kamara, Hill is a shifty, undersized back who can work in space. Paired with the downhill runners on the roster, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec thinks it’s the perfect compliment. 

“The speedy home-run hitter that Harbaugh wanted to (add to) their collection of physical north-south runners, which includes Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Kenneth Dixon,” Zrebiec wrote.

PennLive’s Aaron Kasinitz agrees.

“By picking Hill to start their action on Day 3 of the draft, the Ravens doubled down on their aim to load up on burners,” Kasinitz wrote. “Hill will join a backfield that consists mostly of bigger, more powerful running backs and supply a change-of-pace option.”

Ravens Tried to Trade Up for Cody Ford

The Ravens were without a second-round pick in the draft, but Eric DeCosta reportedly tried to trade up on Day 2 to select Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Ford didn’t stay on draft boards long Friday night and landed with the Bills seven picks into the second round (No. 38). The Ravens stayed patient and waited to draft Ben Powers in the fourth round (No. 123).

“There’s a possibility we could trade up into the second round,” DeCosta said early Saturday morning. “Probably unlikely we’ll do that based on what we have to give up to do it.”

The Ravens traded their second-round pick to the Eagles last year to move back into the first round to draft Lamar Jackson. Recouping the pick was likely too expensive.

“According to the draft trade value chart, that would have equated to 530 points,” RavensWire’s Matthew Stevens wrote. “Both of the Ravens’ original third-round picks only totaled to 257 points. Realistically, Baltimore might have had to offer a future second-round selection to make the move.”

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