Devin Duvernay Will Be 'Immediate Matchup Nightmare'
There was probably a lot of hand-wringing by Ravens fans when top wide receiver prospects were flying off the board during the first two rounds of the draft.
However, when the Ravens landed Devin Duvernay in the third round with the 92nd-overall pick, it was cause for fist-bumping and pumping – for fans as well as Head Coach John Harbaugh.
Don't be surprised if Duvernay ends up being one of the biggest steals of the draft. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox listed the Texas wide receiver as one of 10 rookies who will be an immediate matchup nightmare.
"Duvernay's ability to stretch the field and eat up yards after the catch will fit perfectly with the Ravens offense," Knox wrote. "Baltimore loves to rock opposing defenses with the running game while hitting big plays through the air. Duvernay's skill set plays right into that—and his potential as a perimeter run-blocker shouldn't be overlooked.
"In return, the Ravens will give Duvernay a chance to shine. Because of quarterback Lamar Jackson and the run game, opposing defenses rarely concentrate their efforts on stopping the pass. Duvernay should see a lot of one-on-one coverage with fellow speedster Marquise Brown drawing the majority of safety help over the top."
Duvernay was the only player on Knox's list who wasn't drafted in the first two rounds. He was joined on the list by fellow wide receivers Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, who were drafted in the first round, and Tee Higgins, who was the first pick of the second round.
Former NFL executive Bobby DePaul said on 105.7 The Fan’s “Inside Access” that Duvernay "is going to be a starter on opening day" and reminds him of Stefon Diggs.
Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz also believes Duvernay, who played both in the slot and outside in college, has the potential to be a "prominent offensive playmaker."
"Coaches should be able to find plenty of room in the playbook to include Duvernay in different spots," Kasinitz wrote.
AFC North Draft Report Card: Ravens at Head of Class; Browns, Bengals Make Honor Roll
NFL.com’s Dan Parr handed out his AFC North draft grades, and while the Ravens got the highest mark, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals weren't far behind.
The Ravens (A+), Bengals (A) and Browns (A-) all aced the draft, but the Pittsburgh Steelers (C) were merely satisfactory, in Parr's assessment.
"Baltimore somehow managed to find amazing value in almost every round. It seems unfair that they do this year after year, really," Parr wrote.
Parr praised Baltimore's first two picks (LSU linebacker Patrick Queen in the first round at No. 28 overall and Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins in the second at No. 55) and said General Manager Eric DeCosta made excellent use of his four third-round selections (Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay, Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison and Mississippi State offensive guard Tyre Phillips).
"Queen fills the void that had been lingering since C.J. Mosley departed last offseason and will go sideline to sideline, wreaking havoc with his explosiveness despite being undersized," Parr wrote. "Dobbins adds another dose of electricity to the Ravens' highly charged backfield and the value was too good to pass up, even if there were more pressing needs
"Harrison is a downhill attacker who will complement Queen at 'backer, and Madubuike will help keep blockers off of those two," Parr continued. "We're intrigued by Duvernay, who could become a spark plug in the slot if he improves as a route runner. There are Hall-of-Fame worthy shoes to fill at guard following the retirement of Marshal Yanda, but Phillips and [fourth-round pick Ben] Bredeson seem like perfect fits for the Ravens' power running game."
Parr also thought trading up in the sixth round to select SMU wide receiver James Proche and grabbing Iowa safety Geno Stone in the seventh were shrewd moves by DeCosta.
"[Proche] has the ball skills and competitiveness to be much more productive than his athletic traits would lead you to believe," Parr wrote. "And how about landing Stone with pick 219, nearly 100 slots lower than where [NFL Network draft analyst Daniel] Jeremiah valued him? They were the only team that had his top value pick in two different rounds. Well done, Ravens."
The best pick among AFC North teams was the Bengals taking LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall, Parr wrote.
"Look, I love the Ravens' selection of Patrick Queen at No. 28 overall (and every other pick Baltimore made)," Parr wrote, "but I'm not going to pretend like any of the 30 other picks by AFC North teams have the potential to make as big an impact as the one that started the proceedings. ... Burrow isn't a perfect player, but this was a perfect pick at the perfect time."
Parr liked the Bengals getting another weapon for Burrow with the second-round selection of Clemson wide receiver Higgins, who "could become another A.J. Green in due time, but for now, they get to team up together, creating a tandem that could do a lot of damage to defenses."
Parr felt Cincinnati addressed its biggest need by drafting three linebackers: Wyoming's Logan Wilson in the third round, Appalachian State's Akeem Davis-Gaither in the fourth, and Purdue's Markus Bailey in the seventh. Parr identified Bailey as the biggest sleeper pick in the division.
Browns General Manager Andrew Berry's first draft was a success, wrote Parr, who said Berry nailed his first two picks (Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills in the first round at No. 10 overall and LSU safety Grant Delpit in the second at No. 44).
"Wills was the top player at his position on many boards. He should be protecting the blindside for the next decade," Parr wrote. "The next-biggest need for this club was at safety, and Berry checked that box by plucking Delpit."
As for the Steelers, Parr wrote that their "average" grade comes with an asterisk.
"Before you tweet something derogatory about me, Steelers fans, just know that the grade would be higher if we were taking into account the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade and move up to snag Devin Bush last year, which cost them valuable capital in this year's draft," Parr wrote. "We're sticking exclusively to grading 2020 draft hauls in this exercise, folks.
"The good news is that even with limited flexibility, the Steelers were still able to pick up some intriguing talent. The class is just a little short on juice, and they didn't address a significant need on the defensive line until the final round."
NFL Scouts Impressed With 'Throwback Ravens Draft Class'
Pundits and Ravens fans aren't the only ones raving about Baltimore's draft. NFL scouts were impressed, too. Two scouts told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that the Ravens had one of the strongest showings in the draft.
"Added upgrades and long-term starters at ILB in Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, who complement one another well with Harrison the downhill run defender and Queen the athlete, then added skill players on offense that bring some speed in J.K. Dobbins and Devin Duvernay, and another DL with inside-rush ability in the Texas A&M kid, Justin Madubuike," an AFC scouting director said.
An NFC scout described Baltimore's haul as "a throwback Ravens draft class."
"Inside linebacker and running back with their first two picks? Sorry, draft Twitter. But that plays in that division," the NFC scout said.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec expressed a similar sentiment about the Ravens' approach to this year's draft.
"As teams loaded up on receivers in the early rounds, the Ravens picked a running back before a pass catcher," Zrebiec wrote. "In a league where inside linebackers have been de-emphasized by some organizations, the Ravens took two of them in the first three rounds. While cornerbacks and edge defenders were taken early and often, the Ravens instead focused on adding bulk and versatility to the interior of their offensive and defensive lines."
J.K. Dobbins: 'Let's Get This Ring'
Dobbins did not win a national championship at Ohio State, but believes he landed in a good spot to win a Super Bowl.
"I definitely still feel it. I feel that loss to Clemson in the 2020 College Football Playoff semifinals] because we didn’t go to the championship, and that’s what I went to Ohio State for,” Dobbins said on [Glenn Clark Radio. "Knowing that this team has a chance, all the great athletes and players on this team and all the great coaches, it's extra motivation. Like, OK, I'm back in this situation. I want to finish it. I want me and my teammates to finish it. Let's get this ring."
Dobbins, who was considered a potential first-round selection, said he wasn't happy about slipping to the 55th pick, but he couldn't be happier that the Ravens are the team that drafted him.
"I was pretty upset at the moment, not about the pick, but I fell a little bit, so I was a little upset about it," Dobbins said. "But then when I saw the call, I was like, 'No way, no way. The Ravens [are the] best rushing team in the NFL.' Whenever it happened, I thought about it. I was like, 'You know, I'm so happy to be a Raven.' And so I'm blessed to be with this team."
PFF: UDFA Tyler Huntley Is Better Than Most QBs Who Were Drafted
Unlike with the draft, pundits don't hand out grades for undrafted free agent signings. If they did, the Ravens' acquisition of Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley would likely receive a high mark.
Huntley is better than most of the 13 quarterbacks who were drafted, in the opinion of Pro Football Focus' Eric Eager.
Huntley was the seventh-best quarterback in college football last season, based on PFF's wins above average (WAA) model, which adjusts for strength of opponent, and play-by-play context. He had a 73.1 completion percentage, throwing 19 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.
"When you adjust for circumstances and strength of opponent, Huntley ranks fourth in his draft class in per-play PFF grade, fourth in [Expected Points Added], fifth in completion percentage, fourth in yards, ninth in rate of positively-graded throws and second in rate of negatively-graded throws (to Joe Burrow)," Eager wrote. "This leads to a pretty solid projection for Huntley, with comps such as rookie-deal Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew and Kyle Allen."
Huntley, who led his high school team over Jackson's squad for a state championship in Florida in 2014, could end up being a backup for Jackson in Baltimore.
"Given his play-level fundamentals, I'm going to bet on Huntley if he's given a chance to be a backup in the NFL," Eager wrote. "Luckily, the Baltimore Ravens have given him this chance."
- DeCosta talked with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt about the players he's excited the Ravens drafted.