'Near Perfect' Draft, Perriman Better Than Torrey, Maxx Offensive Rookie Of Year
We're used to high grades for General Manager Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore the Monday following each draft.
But this year, the praise is off the charts, even for Ozzie.
Conventional wisdom says it takes three years to truly evaluate a draft, but you know you're off to a good start when the lowest grade I can find on the web is a B. Draft guru Mel Kiper said the Ravens had the best draft in the entire AFC.
"Just another ho-hum brilliant draft in Baltimore," wrote Rob Rang of CBS Sports
"This was a near perfect draft for the Ravens," added Jamison Hensley of ESPN.
What would have made it perfect? Finding a cornerback in the first two days, says Hensley. And there are split opinions on first-round pick Breshad Perriman because of his suspect hands.
Below are the Ravens' overall grades, and analysis on each pick:
|Mel Kiper, ESPN||A-|
|Bryan Fischer, NFL.com||A|
|Jamie Dukes, NFL.com||B|
|Rob Rang, CBS Sports||A|
|Evan Silva, Yahoo!||A|
|Chris Burke and Doug Farrar, SI.com||B|
Kiper knows that many will call him a homer because he's from Baltimore and he gave the Ravens the best grade of all 32 teams (tied with Seahawks, Steelers, Redskins, Jets), but "I call them as I see them," he wrote. And his pre-draft Big Board is the best proof of an objective opinion. Baltimore drafted three players in the first 90 picks who were among Kiper's Top 50 before the selecting even began.
"Breshad Perriman could have been off the board by No. 14, and I wouldn't have blinked," Kiper wrote. "To get a big (218 pounds), fast (sub-4.3 speed) big-play threat such as this at No. 26 is a great get. You bet Perriman needs to be more consistent with his hands, but there's some Dez Bryant to his game."
During a conference call Sunday afternoon, Kiper added: "I think he'll be better than Torrey Smith."
Meanwhile, College Football 24/7 writer Bryan Fischer represented those who are concerned about Perriman as a first-round pick. Writing for NFL.com, Fischer said, "It's hard to criticize a pick by esteemed GM Ozzie Newsome, but the selection of Perriman is interesting, given his lack of college production and issues with drops. He's a great replacement for Torrey Smith, giving the team some ability to stretch the field, and he lands with the perfect team to learn the game behind some veterans on offense. His game film at UCF gives some cause for concern, but not much apparently for the Baltimore front office."
Round 2, No. 55 TE Maxx Williams (Minnesota): "He could be NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year"
Ah, yes. The consensus best tight end of the class that nobody expected to fall to the end of the second round AND the Ravens got to him before the Steelers could. Williams is by far the most popular pick among fans. He surprisingly got past many tight end-needy teams in the second round – the Giants at 33, Raiders at 35, Falcons at 42, Browns at 43, Saints at 44, Bengals at 53 – and then the Ravens got information that made them trade up to nab him.
"Maybe 45 minutes before they were scheduled to pick, the Ravens heard reliably (or so they thought) that the Steelers were locked on Williams," explained TheMMQB.com's Peter King. "Maybe it was true, maybe it wasn't; you never know in the middle of the draft if you are being played or getting the real scoop. But Baltimore began to call teams ahead of Pittsburgh, picking 56th, to see if they would move. Arizona, at 55, was willing."
So, Baltimore moved up by trading away a fifth-rounder and word out of Pittsburgh is that the Steelers weren't happy. They were "ready to pick" Williams at No. 56, says long-time Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette, but they ended up taking cornerback Senquez Golson with Williams off the board.
"Ironically, Williams is more a Heath Miller-type, a blocker-receiver in the mold of the veteran Steeler … which must gall the Steelers even more," wrote King. "And it probably didn't bother Arizona coach Bruce Arians, who wasn't asked back by the Steelers after the 2011 season, that it was a trade with Baltimore that messed up the Steelers' plan to take Williams. The Steelers got their rookie tight end, Jesse James of Penn State, in the fifth round. It'll be interesting to see over the next few years how much damage Williams does in this rivalry. The Steelers are the types to look back, but if Williams makes beautiful music with Flacco, he'll add some spice to a rivalry that doesn't need it."
They'll be even more upset if Kiper's prediction comes true:
"I think Maxx Williams could be NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He could be everything that Dennis Pitta was when he was healthy."
Round 3, No. 90DT Carl Davis (Iowa): "Rich get richer" with "vintage Ravens pick."
You should listen to Davis' introductory conference call with Baltimore media moments after he was selected. After talking with him, Hensley called Davis one of the "angriest" players in the draft because he expected to be selected in the late first round or early second round.
"It's ridiculous. ... I'm so motivated right now because I was expecting to go somewhere," Davis said. "I feel like I'm one of the best defensive tackles in this year's draft. I've seen a lot of guys that got picked ahead of me, and that's a chip on my shoulder. When I got a chip on my shoulder, there's nobody that can stop me. I feel like I'm that much of a dominant player."
Davis' fall down the board was bad news for the rookie, but good news for the Ravens who got excellent value in the third round and found more tools to help fill the hole left by Haloti Ngata. Finding a fallen gem is par for the course in Baltimore, which is why Fischer says Davis is an example of "the rich getting richer."
"Getting defensive tackle Carl Davis in the third round is vintage Ravens," wrote CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco. "This is a kid some had pegged in the first round. He will be a perfect 3-4 end in their scheme."
Added King: "The Ravens are a continuum. Lose Haloti Ngata, grab a sneaky-quick man-mountain who can clog the middle. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's the way of Ozzie Newsome."
Round 4, No. 122 OLB Za'Darius Smith (Kentucky): "Third-day gem."
Ravens fans are going to love Smith once they hear more from him. He drew plenty of laughter on his introductory conference call with Baltimore media, and if he's Pernell McPhee 2.0 as Head Coach John Harbaugh predicted, he'll help pound opposing quarterbacks for years to come. Prisco declared Smith the Ravens' third-day gem, saying, "I love the pick Za'Darius Smith in the fourth round. Watching Bud Dupree on tape, this kid kept showing up. Typical Ravens pick."
Round 4, No. 125 RB Buck Allen (USC): "Real steal … who could take snaps from Justin Forsett."
The Ravens have their starting running back in Justin Forsett, who shocked the world with a Pro Bowl year last season. Most analysts see Allen as a nice complement to Forsett and a good match for the Ravens' offensive stretch run scheme. But CBSSports.com's Rob Rang thinks Allen could be even more. "The real steal, however, could be running back Buck Allen, who could take snaps from Justin Forsett as a rookie," wrote Rang.
For ESPN's Todd McShay, Allen was his "favorite pick" of the Ravens' draft. "I'm going with Allen for this one, as he has the ability to stick his foot in the dirt and accelerate quickly up the field, which is perfect for the Ravens' zone-blocking system. He's a great find in the fourth round, and a great fit as well."
Round 4, No. 136
CB Tray Walker (Texas Southern): "Riskiest move."
It's not that Hensley is calling Walker himself risky; it's the Ravens waiting until the fourth round to address the cornerback position. Wrote Hensley: "The lack of depth at cornerback derailed the Ravens in the playoffs, and it was among the Ravens' biggest priorities to improve there. The board didn't fall that way, and the Ravens settled on Texas Southern's Tray Walker in the fourth round. … With Walker being viewed as a project, the Ravens will have their fingers crossed for Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb to stay healthy. "
Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson and Washington's Marcus Peters were off the board by the time the Ravens were on the clock in the first round. Miami of Ohio's Quinten Rollins could have been a good pick in the third, but he was taken by Green Bay before Baltimore could get to him.
"People will nitpick them not getting a corner earlier, but that's how the board worked out," Kiper said. "They're not going to force it."
Round 5, No. 171 TE Nick Boyle (Delaware): Ravens "wisely" doubled down at tight end.
Despite already grabbing Williams in the second round, Baltimore wasn't done at the position. Given Pitta's unknown health status and the big role the tight end position has in the Ravens offense, Newsome grabbed another one. "The Ravens nabbed the draft's best tight end in Maxx Williams and wisely doubled down on the position with Nick Boyle late," wrote Rang.
Round 5, No. 176 G Robert Myers (Tennessee St): "File it away … Myers could become a starter."An offensive guard from the fifth round doesn't garner much excitement or headlines, but Myers could prove to be an important pick next year. With Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele both set to become unrestricted free agents next season, it will be a difficult task for the Ravens to keep both. Enter Myers …
"The Ravens believe fifth-rounder Robert Myers can be a starting guard. This is important because the Ravens might need a starting guard in 2016," wrote Hensley. "If John Urschel figures more into the Ravens' plans at center, Myers could be given a shot at guard. Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo loves small-school projects, and Myers has the tools (thickness, toughness and good footwork) to develop into a starter."
Round 6, No. 204WR Darren Waller (Georgia Tech): "Don't sleep on Waller."
At 6-foot-6, Waller is a BIIIIG receiver who didn't have a lot of production on the collegiate level but has plenty of upside as a developmental player. "Don't sleep on sixth-round receiver Darren Waller either," wrote SI.com's Chris Burke and Doug Farrar. "He was stuck in Georgia Tech's option attack, but at 6'6" he could be dangerous in the red zone."