After trading back twice in the first round, the Ravens finally made a selection. Baltimore took Hayden Hurst, a tight end out of South Carolina.
Hurst rose up draft boards during the pre-draft process, and was regarded by many to be the top tight end in the draft. Hurst is an excellent pass catching tight end, that is more than willing to block in the run game. Hurst has drawn comparisons to Travis Kelce.
Coming into the offseason, the Ravens’ biggest need was wide receiver. Though through free agency, the Ravens found a solution. Ozzie Newsome added Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead.
With Benjamin Watson leaving, tight end became the Ravens biggest need.
The Ravens offense has long been a unit that works much better with a passing catching tight end. Shannon Sharpe and Dennis Pitta immediately come to mind. It’s been years since the Ravens have had a truly reliable pass-catching tight end.
That need, suddenly, is filled.
With Hurst, the Ravens may have found a player who can provide the same impact to their offense that Kelce does to the Chiefs. Joe Flacco finally has a dynamic pass catcher at the tight end position.
In fact, in many mock draft, Hurst had been mocked to the Ravens at the 16th pick, a spot that would have been a reach to select Hurst.
The 2018 NFL Draft marks Ozzie Newsome’s last as general manager. Newsome’s career has been predicated on taking the best player available in the draft. Often, taking the best player available has come ahead of need for the Ravens.
In 2018, that changed.
At the 16th pick, the Ravens had the option to select two players regarded as top 10 talents in Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds. Instead, the Ravens passed on these talented defensive players, and traded the pick to the Buffalo Bills, breaking with the mold the Ravens have had in the past.
Baltimore then had the 22nd pick. When that pick rolled around, all of the offensive playmakers were still available, so the Ravens traded back again, moving to the 25th pick, where they could still get a player who could help their offense.
Finally, the Ravens came on the clock for a third time, and this time, they stayed there, taking Hurst.
Hurst will be a day one starter for the Ravens. In the short term, Hurst will give a huge boost to the Ravens passing game, but it will also help out in the run game.
At the spot in which the Ravens took Hurst, the need he fills, and the movement the Ravens made in the mid-round, this pick has a lot of positives. Though the negatives lie in who the Ravens passed up.
The Ravens traded out of an opportunity to take a blue-chip defensive player with the 16th pick, and got a third round pick out of it. The Ravens had the chance to take DJ Moore with the 22nd pick, and traded out of, getting a fourth round pick out of it. More so with the players the Ravens passed up with the 16th pick, will the Ravens regret not taking the best player available?
In Ozzie Newsome’s final draft, it certainly feels odd to not take an Alabama player, and not take the best player available.
Though Hurst is an older player, a similar knock that was given to Calvin Ridley. Hurst will be 25 years old in Week 1. He’ll fill an immediate need, as the Ravens’ window seems to be nearing it’s close. Though in seven to eight years, will the Ravens regret not sticking to their tried and true draft formula?
I would give this pick a B grade. Hurst gives the Ravens the immediate fix they need, and the offense will be more dynamic because of it. However, passing on Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds, keeps this from being an A grade. Time will only tell.