Ravens Have Sleepers On 'Most Important' Third Day


The glory days are the first two days of the NFL Draft. It's on the third day when the mock drafts go away and savvy general managers and scouting departments do their best work.

The Ravens still have a whopping six picks remaining Saturday, thanks in large part to three compensatory picks. Baltimore has three picks in the fourth round (Nos. 122, 125 and 136), two in the fifth (No. 171 and 175) and one in the sixth (No. 203).

And General Manager Ozzie Newsome wants to see Baltimore make the best use of them.

"The most important part of this draft is us doing a really good job tomorrow," Newsome said late Friday night after the third round concluded.

"To have those additional picks … When we let players walk out of the door – because they get huge contracts that we can't match – then we get those picks, and now we have to be able to utilize those picks to be able to get some good players to come in and help our football team. That will make our draft."

The Ravens addressed two key needs in the first two rounds. They got a speed wide receiver, Breshad Perriman, in the first, and a pass-catching tight end, Maxx Williams, in the second. Baltimore stayed true to the best player available mantra in the third round with massive defensive tackle Carl Davis.

But one position missing from that mix – one that nearly every fan and pundit predicted would be taken somewhere in the first two days – is cornerback. The Ravens also haven't taken a running back or pass rusher.

"We've got some guys we're sleeping on, for sure," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said.

"There are a couple guys we're really excited about in the fourth round, multiple guys at different positions. I think it's really set up nicely for us, especially considering what we were able to do yesterday and today. I think our needs and the board really kind of gel well."

The Ravens have their two starters with Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, who are both under contract through 2017 (Smith's deal runs through 2019). But the Ravens could use a boost at No. 3 cornerback, and as last year's injury-riddled season showed, you can never have too many pass defenders.

There have been 14 cornerbacks drafted so far. In each round, players the Ravens could have taken were snatched up before Baltimore was on the clock. They also passed on some to pick Williams.

Washington's Marcus Peters and Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson went in the middle of the first round. The Ravens could have had Ole Miss' Senquez Golson or Miami (Ohio)'s Quinten Rollins in the second, but went for Williams instead. Tight end was a much bigger immediate need.

Cornerbacks P.J. Williams, Alex Carter and Craig Mager went 12, 10 and seven picks before Baltimore was on the clock in the third round.

"In terms of guys that are gone, we anticipated most of them being gone at this point," said Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz. "Some other guys have snuck in there, but there are still a couple guys left on our board that we have some feel for and coaches have some feel for and scouts have some feel for that we think we'll have an opportunity to get tomorrow."

Here are a few names to keep an eye on at cornerback, pass rusher and running back:

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
Ekpre-Olomu may have been one of the top cornerbacks taken had he not suffered a knee injury in preparing for the College Football Playoff semifinals. He was a consensus All-American and Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back) finalist.

CB Charles Gaines, Louisville
He allowed just 46 percent of passes his way to be completed in 2014.

CB Josh Shaw, USC
The well-built Shaw was considered one of the nation's top cornerbacks before he was suspended early in 2014. He suffered ankle injuries after jumping from a second story building and originally lied about it, saying it was an attempt to save a drowning nephew.

RB Jay Ajayi, Boise State
He's the only player in FBS history with 1,800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a single season. The former soccer player has good size and great feet.

OLB Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State
He had a dominant senior year with 19.5 sacks en route to being a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) All-American and the Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Year.

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