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Ravens Excited About Upside Of 2016 Draft Class


Baltimore's 2016 rookie class has all the makings of the teams' best draft in years.

The Ravens picked up several key players, including a potential franchise left tackle, starting running back, cornerback and offensive guard.

"I'm very excited about this year's draft," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I feel like every single one of those guys is going to be a good player. A number of those guys have proven it already."

Here's a full overview of last year's draft class:

Round 1: LT Ronnie Stanley
Round 2: LB Kamalei Correa
Round 3: DE Bronson Kaufusi
Round 4: CB Tavon Young
WR Chris Moore
OL Alex Lewis
DT Willie Henry
RB Kenneth Dixon
Round 5: OLB Matthew Judon
Round 6: WR Keenan Reynolds
CB Maurice Canady
Undrafted:DT Michael Pierce
LB Patrick Onwuasor

The marquee name is at the top with Stanley, the No. 6-overall pick. Stanley had an up-and-down season because of a foot injury, but came on strong in the final month and showed why the Ravens drafted him with their top pick.

Stanley missed four games with the foot injury – the Ravens lost all of those games – and he wasn't initially back to form we he returned. But after taking a few weeks to knock off the rust, Stanley stepped up his game and graded out by Pro Football Focus as the league's best left tackle over the final five weeks of the season.

"He got a little better every week until about three or four weeks later when he was playing at a high level for a rookie," Harbaugh said. "I feel like he is the kind of guy that is going to improve dramatically from one day to the next, from one year to the next, and become I believe, a premier left tackle in this league."

The Ravens plan to have Stanley alongside Lewis as the anchors on the left side of offensive line for the next few years. Lewis earned the starting left guard job before a high ankle sprain kept him out of the lineup the second half of the season. 

"We have two young guys at left guard and left tackle, who I think are about as good as you are going to get out of two rookies," Harbaugh said. "But they can't rest on their laurels on having a good rookie year. A good rookie year is a lot different than being a dominant player in this league. Those two guys need to go to work over the next three or four months when they are away from us. They need to transform themselves into veteran pro football players quickly."

The other rookie who stepped into a consistent starting role was cornerback Tavon Young, who replaced Shareece Wright in the lineup and started 11 games this year. Young finished with 53 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed.

He was expected to be a reserve slot cornerback, but he far surpassed expectations and will compete for a starting job again next season.

"Here's a fourth-round pick that played the way he did at corner, which is a very tough position," Harbaugh said. "Can you imagine not having him this year?"

The Ravens also got solid production out of Dixon (382 rushing yards), Pierce (35 tackles, two sacks) and Judon (four sacks), and the Ravens are hopeful about them stepping into even larger roles next season.

The biggest questions with last year's draft class is what to expect from Correa and Kaufusi. Correa hardly saw any defensive action before a rib injury landed him on injured reserve, and Kaufusi broke his ankle in training camp. The Ravens drafted both of those players with the hope they could develop into quality players on the team's defensive front, and they still have to prove themselves.

The Ravens are optimistic about the steps those young players will take this offseason, and the overall quality of the draft class could look even better depending on how players develop over the next few years.

"I feel really good about this draft class," Harbaugh said.

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