The Ravens waited to draft a cornerback until the fourth round, but they got one with plenty of upside.
Baltimore drafted Tray Walker out of small-school Texas Southern with their third pick in the fourth round (No. 136 overall). He's the sixth player Baltimore drafted in 2015.
"I'm really overwhelmed right now. I'm stunned," Walker said. "I really can't think right now."
Pundits didn't project Walker going so high, listing him as a sixth- or seventh-round pick. But Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta indicated Friday night that Baltimore had their eyes on some sleepers.
"To be able to get a size-speed corner in the fourth round is huge for us," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
The Ravens took a chance with small-school Nicholls State cornerback Lardarius Webb in 2009 and it worked out. They'll hope for the same result from Walker. On paper, they're two very different players, however.
Walker is very tall at 6-foot-2 with outstanding length. He said he was told he had the longest wingspan of any cornerback in the draft. He weighs just 191 pounds though, and said he would like to add five more pounds.
That long wingspan helps Walker re-route wide receivers in press coverage and lock up receivers off the line of scrimmage. He attacks throws at the high point and has the hands to finish with interceptions.
Walker played in 11 games last season and registered three interceptions. He had nine interceptions in 42 college games.
There's criticism of Walker's speed, but he recorded 40-yard dash times of 4.53 and 4.54 seconds, which would have ranked just outside of the top-15 at the NFL Scouting Combine. By comparison, first-round cornerback Kevin Johnson ran a 4.52.
While it's difficult to find hidden gems these days with social media and the proliferation of information, the Ravens may have done just that with Walker.
The Ravens first saw him at the College Gridiron Showcase all-star game, and the scouts "came back and were raving," said Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz. The Ravens then sent Cornerbacks Coach Matt Weiss to personally work out Walker.
"Again, the reviews coming back were just outstanding," Hortiz said. "Obviously his film at Texas Southern, it's not great competition and he's a raw athlete. But when you watch the workout, watch him on tape, you see all the skills, plus the size, length and speed are the things that really intrigue you."
Walker had a feeling the Ravens were going to draft him.
"[Weiss]was telling me, 'I like you. I'm going to try to get you to Baltimore,'" Walker said. "They were overwhelmed by my size and my ability to move the way I can. I just kept faith that I'd be somewhere and I ended up at the place where the most interest was there."
Walker was very lightly recruited out of high school. He played safety in high school and Texas Southern was his only choice.
"I was overlooked," Walker said. "I took a chance [at Texas Southern], took advantage of it and made the best of it."
Walker said he knows he has room to grow his game. It will be a steep learning curve in the NFL, but the Ravens have the coaching, leadership and patience to make it work.
"I'm only 22 years old. Whatever I have to do to get better and be the best person I can be, that's what I'm going to do," Walker said.
"Once I get the feel of the game, you guys can help me and tell me what I need to improve on. For right now it's just basically getting the feel of the NFL."