There was a lot of talk about selecting a top defensive player, but the Ravens gave quarterback Joe Flacco a premier blindside blocker Thursday night.
Baltimore selected Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the sixth-overall pick, making him the first offensive lineman off the board.
"We've invested a lot in Joe for the next six years," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We feel like Ronnie comes in with the opportunity to compete and at some point will be a starter and a starter for long time for the Baltimore Ravens."
The Ravens chose Stanley over Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, who went to the 49ers at the next pick. Other possible targets such as pass rushers Leonard Floyd (No. 9) and Shaq Lawson (No. 19) were also still on the board.
Baltimore saw Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey go one pick ahead of them to the Jaguars.
Newsome said the Ravens had trade offers to move back before the draft started. But once the picking began, and when Baltimore was on the clock, "the phone didn't ring." The Ravens were locked in at No. 6 and took the top player on their board.
An elite left tackle is a proven commodity in the NFL, and grabbing one when given a rare chance at the top of a draft is wise. Stanley is the Ravens' highest selection since 2000 when they drafted running back Jamal Lewis at No. 5.
The pick of Stanley also contradicts recent mock drafts because there was a lot of media talk about Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil being the top offensive tackle. But buzz began in the last few days that teams actual preferred Stanley.
Newsome said the Ravens had Stanley rated above Tunsil, who slid to the Dolphins (No. 13).
Tunsil's tumble may have been in part caused by a video was sent minutes before the draft began from Tunsil's Twitter account that appeared to be him smoking from a bong. Teams quickly became aware of the video.
The Ravens did a lot of homework on Tunsil and there were multiple off-field issues, including a seven-game suspension at the start of the 2015 season and a lawsuit filed by his stepfather.
"Our scouts get a lot of information. When things happen, a lot of the time we're not surprised. We took the best player, the player who was rated highest on the board at that point."
The Ravens have been monitoring Stanley throughout his career. Newsome said the first tape Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta brought him this offseason was of Notre Dame's offense.
"I kept noticing the left tackle," Newsome said. "This was a guy that has been right at the top of our board."
Stanley is a highly athletic talent that stands in at 6-foot-6 and 312 pounds. He returned to Notre Dame for his senior year to polish his game and it paid off.
Stanley is seen as having just as good of movement skills as Tunsil, but is regarded as a better run blocker.
Stanley started all 13 games the past three years, including at left tackle the past two seasons. He spent his sophomore year at right tackle. Stanley was named Notre Dame's Offensive Player of the Year last season.
Hailing from the Las Vegas area, Stanley honed his footwork playing basketball. He was part of three state champion basketball teams at Gorman High School.
"In my time with Ronnie, he's very smart, he's a great kid, he's an excellent athlete and he's going to be a great player for us," DeCosta said.
The Ravens don't have an immediate need at left tackle, so there will likely be changes to come to accommodate Stanley's arrival.
Eugene Monroe is on the roster, but the Ravens have been exploring other options this offseason. Monroe, the No. 8-overall pick from 2009, is entering the third year of a five-year deal he signed before the 2014 season. He's dealt with a myriad of injuries since then, knocking him out of 15 regular-season games over the past two years.
Baltimore has been searching for an elite left tackle since its first draft selection in franchise history, Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden, retired prior to the 2008 season.
Since then, the Ravens have circled between Jared Gaither, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie and Monroe. The Ravens traded for and re-signed Monroe thinking he could be that answer, but it hasn't panned out yet. Stanley will be expected to solve that issue.
"We know left tackles. We've been around a Hall of Fame left tackle," DeCosta said.
Stanley distanced himself from comparisons to Ogden. He told reporters he's simply excited to join a well-respected organization in Baltimore and had "pure joy" when the phone rang with Newsome on the other line.
"I don't think it's fair to compare me to Jonathan Ogden right now at this point," Stanley said. "Hopefully, eventually I would be honored to be in the same conversation as him. I'm definitely trying to be at my best. If I end up in the same conversation as that, that's just an honor."