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Round 4: Ravens Draft RB Lorenzo Taliaferro


A new running back has entered the mix.

The Ravens took Coastal Carolina's Lorenzo Taliaferro in the fourth round with the 138th-overall pick.

Taliaferro, 6-foot-0, 229 pounds gives the Ravens a downhill running back to add much needed depth to the backfield. He rushed for 1,729 yards and 27 touchdowns last year and was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year.

"He's a very physical runner," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. "He had a great college year in terms of production. He's a versatile player who can run the ball."

The Ravens have been looking for a running back to add to their rotation since the end of last season, and Taliaferro will provide some depth behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. He will likely compete with free-agent acquisition Justin Forsett for the No. 3 spot.

Adding a running back was a priority before Rice's legal issues, but the Ravens need to have multiple options at the position as Rice could face a suspension from the NFL. Pierce is also working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.

"It's really exciting to go out there and compete with guys," Taliaferro said during a conference call after getting picked. "I can't wait to build a relationship with these guys, but at the end of the day, it's all about competing and doing the best you can do for the team."

Taliaferro will initially be low on the depth chart as a late fourth-round pick, but he stressed that he will be ready to take on a heavy workload if needed.

"I would definitely be confident," he said. "It's football. I've been doing it for a long time now, and I'm fortunate enough today to continue to do it."

Taliaferro thrived in college at the small-school level, but he caught the eye of many NFL scouts during a strong performance at the Senior Bowl in January. The impressive week of practice against players from much larger schools put Taliaferro on the radar for NFL teams.

"He's a guy that went to the Senior Bowl as a small-school guy and got out there with a bunch of Division I players and he held his own and was productive throughout the entire week," Hortiz said.

In addition to Taliaferro's role as a ball carrier, the Ravens also liked his ability as a pass catcher, blocker and on special teams. With his size, he will hold his own while protecting quarterback Joe Flacco. And Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg was particularly impressed with his special teams prowess in the Senior Bowl.

Taliaferro's hands is another asset, catching 23 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns last season.

"He has very good hands out of the backfield. He's really an outstanding pass protector," Hortiz said. "In terms of style, he is probably more of a downhill style like Bernard, more of a one-cut runner. Ray is going to be a little bit more elusive. In terms of his hands, he can get out there and catch with those guys."

A knock on Taliaferro is that he lacks top end speed after running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at the combine in February, but he told reporters that his speed is underrated.

Making the jump from a Football College Subdivision school will be a challenge for Taliaferro, but the Ravens have a history of taking small-school players on the third day of the draft. Last year they drafted Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the third round and Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette in the seventh.

Having familiarity with a zone running attack from college should help ease Taliaferro's transition to the Ravens, as new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak is known for his zone running schemes.

"I think it's going to be great," Taliaferro said. "I'm looking forward to working with Coach Kubiak and just seeing what we can do to progress."

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