This weekend, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome entered his final NFL Draft. At its completion, Newsome had orchestrated one of the most exciting groups of prospects in team history. Manipulating the board, Ozzie was able to move the team around the draft on all three days, finding maximum value throughout. The team addressed all of its major needs, and most of the minor ones, too, and coming out of the weekend, Coach Harbaugh must be pleased with what he has to work with. Here are my thoughts on the pieces Newsome added to the squad:
Pick 25: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
The Ravens traded back from pick-16 to pick-22 to pick-25 before finally filling a need with Hayden Hurst. Considered by many to be the best tight end in the draft, Hurst will make an immediate impact in the passing game and should be highly utilized in the Ravens’ offense. I believe he was a great value given their ability to move back in the process. Even though Tremaine Edmunds and Derwin James were options at pick-16, this was the ideal pick for the first round.
Pick 32: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Surprise! I had looked away from my laptop before luckily checking again to see Roger Goodell announce this trade, but it’s the most excited I’ve ever been for a Ravens pick. There is plenty of risk – no doubt – but if Lamar Jackson pans out, Baltimore will have a transcendent talent at QB for the next decade, bringing that exciting brand of football everyone wants. Terrific pick, well worth the risk.
Pick 83: Orlando Brown, JR, OT, Oklahoma
In a touching legacy pick, the Ravens snag a player that had been mocked to them at pick-16 before Brown’s horrendous NFL Combine performance. I am a believer in Brown’s ability, and I see him starting Week 1 against the Bills. This solidifies an O-Line that should be: Stanley, Hurst, Lewis, Yanda, Brown. Newsome may have gotten tremendous value here in the third round – not to mention having traded back before making the pick.
Pick 86: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The Ravens double-dip with two Oklahoma players in 2018. Andrews is a glorified wideout and will line up in the slot, taking a similar role to Dennis Pitta in years past. To be perfectly honest, I love this pick, too, and think the potential payoff could be huge. Imagining a two-tight end set with Andrews and Hurst, while Crabtree and Brown line up outside, could be menacing. I think Flacco will love what Ozzie brought in for him, and Newsome has provided his QB of the future – Jackson – with two sure-handed receivers to rely on early.
Pick 118: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
This is the quintessential Ozzie Newsome pick – best player available, and Alabama. However, I also believe this gives the Ravens an option they may not have expected to have coming out of the weekend. Averett is likely capable of contributing this year, meaning – behind Smith, Humphrey, and Young – he could provide similar value to Brandon Carr. If the Ravens cut Carr, they could have money to add one more contributor moving forward. In addition, I believe the starting corners in two years could be Humphrey and Averett outside, with Tavon Young in the slot.
Pick 122: Kenny Young, LB, UCLA
Young will compete with Onwuasor to play alongside CJ Mosley. The idea behind this pick is that Young will provide speed to Mosley’s thump. The Ravens lacked a coverage linebacker to run with tight ends over the middle, and Young supposedly has the speed to do so. While I think they could have drafted him a bit later on, I think Young will be useful on passing downs, even if he isn’t a 3-down linebacker.
Pick 132: Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
Scott is an ascending talent, who has the ability to make insane catches outside. He provides size outside that the Ravens don’t have at this point, and he could be a nice start to the long-term rebuild of the receiver room. While Jackson will define the success of this draft class, Scott is the second most telling pick, as Newsome has been notoriously bad at drafting receivers. It would be nice to see him leave by providing one that sticks.
Pick 162: Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
This is the receiver that I think will have more of an immediate impact. Lasley was the top target for QB Josh Rosen and made a ton of huge plays in big games. While his drops and off-the-field questions are concerning, he has immense potential. He certainly could be a bust, but given the fact that he has a 1st-round skillset, Lasley was worth the shot at this point in the draft.
Pick 190: DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
I am extremely excited about this pick, as I think Elliott was a great value for the Ravens. A highly-overlooked prospect, Elliott is a true centerfielder and could be the defense’s first real playmaker since Ed Reed. There are some questions about his deep-coverage ability, but with a year to develop under one of the best free safeties in the league, I am confident that the Ravens have found a future starter. In two years, Elliott could be the starter next to Tony Jefferson.
Pick 212: Greg Senat, OT, Wagner
Senat is a purely developmental flyer at tackle. I believe he will fail to make the team but will stick on the practice squad until capable of providing further depth. He is a former basketball player, which is always intriguing, but I don’t expect to hear his name much for at least a few seasons.
Pick 215: Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama
Bozeman is Ozzie’s last pick from Alabama, and I actually feel he may provide some sort of impact. The Ravens needed a center, as they don’t have a pure one on the roster at the moment. While a number of players could develop into centers – I believe Alex Lewis may get the first crack at it – Bozeman could end up making the roster as a depth piece, considering he could slide over and play guard if need be.
Pick 238: Zach Sieler, DE, Ferris State
This pick has Eric DeCosta written all over it, and I love it. He has been great at nabbing small-school prospects, especially at pass rusher. Sieler dominated the division-2 level, and NFL Network states that the Ravens “got a steal” here. I believe this could be the case, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he handles NFL talent in the preseason. If they can make Sieler another Matthew Judon, it would be huge, as defensive end is an understated need.
Sieler rounded out a 12-player class that will only be built upon as the team signs a deep class of undrafted prospects. In all, I am truly excited about this draft. Ozzie found a way to trade back and address all needs, while still gathering a mix of immediate contributors and future starters. For a team whose direction seemed to be in question, this draft leaves things looking up. Ozzie Newsome’s final draft was a success, and I can’t wait to see these players get out to rookie minicamp in a week!