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Late For Work 5/1: Grades For Ravens' 2017 Draft Class


Grades For Ravens 2017 Draft Class

Coaches and front offices regularly say it takes a few years to truly assess the quality of a draft class.

But today's media landscape is all about instant analysis, and there is no shortage of draft grade cards out there this morning.

Let's take a look at what the pundits think of Baltimore's 2017 class. And, as a refresher, here's a rundown of how General Manager Ozzie Newsome used his seven picks:

Round 1 (No. 16): CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
Round 2 (No 47): OLB Tyus Bowser, Houston
Round 3 (No. 74): DT Chris Wormley, Michigan
Round 3 (No. 78): OLB Tim Williams, Alabama
Round 4 (No. 122): OL Nico Siragusa, San Diego State
Round 5 (No. 159): OL Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M
Round 6 (No. 186): S Chuck Clark, Virginia Tech

"Clearly, it was a focus of GM Ozzie Newsome to upgrade the Ravens' defense through this draft. He spent each of his first four picks on that side of the ball, even doubling down at OLB on Day 2 (Tyus Bowser, pick No. 47; Tim Williams, No. 78). Defensive lineman Chris Wormley was Newsome's other score on Day 2—he's a player who appears custom-made to be a 3–4 end on that Baltimore depth chart. I wasn't as high on first-round CB Marlon Humphrey as others, but he has unquestionable upside. Day 3 did bring a pair of offensive linemen: power guard Nico Siragusa, who could start in 2017, and long-term project Jermaine Eluemunor. A little surprised Newsome did not find a pass catcher somewhere."

"This was a defense-heavy class for the Ravens, and I liked virtually every pick -- I think the question is whether Joe Flacco loves it. Marlon Humphrey is my second-ranked corner, a super-athlete and physical defender who will compete with Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith for a starting spot. I remember watching his father, Bobby Humphrey, who was star running back at Alabama and played four seasons in the NFL.

"Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams are perfect fits in the Ravens' 3-4 and potential Terrell Suggs replacements. Williams was the No. 1 prospect on my Big Board headed into the 2016 season, but he's not a complete player, and off-field issues are why he was still around in Round 3. Williams does one thing really well – get up the field quickly in pursuit of quarterbacks – but that's a skill teams crave. Chris Wormley dropped a little bit, but he could ultimately replace the traded Timmy Jernigan. He's an outstanding defensive tackle in an admittedly lean class. On Day 3, Nico Siragusa and Jermaine Eluemunor are guards who could replace Alex Lewis on the left side."

"Ozzie Newsome once again went back to his old school, picking cornerback Marlon Humphrey. The corner's physical play and better-than-expected long speed locked up a mid-first-round pick. Tyus Bowser isn't known nationally, but he has great athletic ability and can rush the passer -- something the Ravens need with Terrell Suggs aging. The Ravens picked up a great five-technique prospect in Chris Wormley in the third round. Coaching up Tim Williams to become the pass-rusher talent his potential portends would make him a third-round steal like Justin Houston.

"Nico Siragusa was such a Ravens pick; he's a future starter (maybe immediate) at guard. Jermaine Eluemunor has potential inside, as well. The team didn't select any receivers, though, which they could use."

**Nate Davis, USA Today**:B
"GM Ozzie Newsome, an Alabama alum, adhered to his wont, taking two Crimson Tide stars in first-round CB Marlon Humphrey and third-round OLB Tim Williams. If Humphrey learns to defend the deep ball and Williams cleans up his act off the field, both could deliver big time. Newsome also restocked an aging defense with athletic second-round OLB Tyus Bowser and versatile third-round DL Chris Wormley. Fifth rounder Jermaine Eluemunor may be a diamond in the rough for an O-line that took some hits in free agency."

**Pete Prisco, CBS Sports**:B-
"Did they really need a corner in the first round? I know they stuck to their board by taking Alabama corner Marlon Humphrey, but I thought they had bigger needs. They came back to make up for it by taking Houston edge rusher Tyus Bowser in the second round and Michigan defensive tackle Chris Wormley in the third. [Third]-round rusher Tim Williams could be a pass-rush star -- if he can stay out of trouble."

**Doug Farrar, Bleacher Report**:B-
"Ravens fans who wanted the 2017 draft to provide multiple players to help Joe Flacco and the team's dormant offense couldn't have been happy with the way this draft went. Baltimore went heavy on defense (specifically pass rush), and though the Ravens got some interesting players with that approach, questions about the offense still remain."

McShay: Bowser Was Baltimore's Best Pick

The Ravens came into the weekend in the market for pass rushers. Suggs is heading into his 15th season and the team also parted ways with Elvis Dumervil in March.

Finding premier pass rushers after the first round can be difficult, but ESPN’s Todd McShay believes the Ravens did just that by taking Bowser in the second round. 

"They got Bowser, our 33rd overall player, with the 47th pick," wrote McShay, who labeled Bowser as Baltimore's best draft pick.

The Ravens have also been praised for taking Williams in the third round, as many draft gurus viewed him as a first-round talent. McShay liked the Williams selection, but believes "Bowser is a better value and a more complete player."

Bowser and Williams will both bring energy to the Ravens' pass rush, and McShay sees Bowser as a potential long-term replacement for Suggs.

"As Terrell Suggs, 34, nears the end of his career, Bowser gives the Ravens a high-upside player who will take to hard coaching," McShay wrote.

Ravens Getting Back To Hard-Hitting Defensive Ways

This year's draft was somewhat unconventional for the Ravens. Not only did Newsome start things off by taking four-straight defenders, but he also didn't make any trades (second time in franchise history) or select any offensive skill players (first time in franchise history).

Most of the mocks predicted a different outcome, but The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck says nobody should have been shocked by Baltimore's approach.

"If anyone is truly surprised that the Ravens put a huge emphasis on defense in this year's NFL draft, it would be wise to remember the famous adage about the fate of those who ignore history," Schmuck wrote.

Schmuck pointed to last year's Christmas Day loss to the Steelers, where Baltimore gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter, as an example of why the Ravens needed to invest so heavily on the defense.

Some fans may be concerned about not adding a wide receiver after the retirement of Steve Smith Sr., but NFL Network's Peter Schrager advised them to keep calm and embrace the defensive draft.

"Ravens fans out there who are stressing out and wondering – between Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz, and all those guys in the front office they had a strategy: Beef up the defense, and let's get back to what we are, Ravens football," Schrager said. "I love what the Ravens did in this draft. They got back to what they are."

Quick Hits

I will always support @OJBrigance !!! #beatals @sinjen66 — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) April 30, 2017

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