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Ravens News 4/29: Draft awards, takeaways and more

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Kansas State v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Draft Felt Familiar in Many Ways, Different in Others - John Eisenberg

There were plenty of reminders that General Manager Eric DeCosta paid close attention while he sat beside Newsome in the war room and watched his mentor operate for all those years.

With DeCosta in charge, the Ravens traded out of their original slot in the first round, a maneuver Newsome repeatedly pulled as GM.

There were, however, also ways in which a DeCosta-led draft was different from a Newsome-led draft.

There was an emphasis on wide receivers in the early rounds, for instance. Never before had the Ravens picked two guys at that position within the first three rounds of a draft.

Just in general, DeCosta put more emphasis on the offensive skill positions. Newsome drafted at least one lineman (offensive or defensive) in the first three rounds of every draft between 2009 and last year, but DeCosta had already taken a pair of receivers and a running back by the time he took a lineman, Oklahoma guard Ben Powers, in the fourth round Saturday.

The 2019 NFL Draft Awards - Danny Kelly

The Eliminating Your Weaknesses Overnight Award: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens came into this draft with glaring needs at receiver and pass rusher. By the time Friday night was finished, they had added promising players at both spots. Baltimore’s pass-catching arsenal added Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. Beyond invigorating the depth chart, they should give this offense two completely different kinds of playmakers.

Brown, who was taken in the first round, should line up as the Z receiver or in the slot. The Oklahoma product boasts take-the-top-off-a-defense speed, giving him the ability to bring any catch to the house. Boykin, a third-round pick, projects as a prototypical X receiver on the outside. His athletic profile isn’t altogether different from that of a guy named Calvin Johnson: Boykin has the size and speed to dominate along the sideline and the catch radius to emerge as a force in the red zone.

On the defensive side, the Ravens grabbed Louisiana Tech pass rusher Jaylon Ferguson at no. 85. Ferguson reminds me in some ways of former Baltimore great Terrell Suggs: His athletic profile doesn’t scream “elite edge rusher,” but he plays with extraordinary power and heavy hands, wearing down opposing tackles while relentlessly collapsing the pocket. Ferguson even broke Suggs’s Division I career sacks record. He gives the Ravens a high-floor edge presence and fits the rough-and-tumble AFC North franchise’s identity like a glove.

Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 2019 draft - Childs Walker

The Ravens filled many needs, but they still need to go shopping for a middle linebacker.

DeCosta said he didn’t expect either of the top two inside linebackers, Devin White of LSU or Devin Bush of Michigan, to reach the Ravens at No. 22 overall. He was correct as both players went in the top 10.

The quality at inside linebacker fell off the table after the two Devins, and that was reflected by the Ravens’ decision not to take a linebacker. They could have used one of their fourth-round selections on Alabama inside linebacker Mack Wilson and instead added depth at running back and cornerback. That tells us they must not have graded Wilson highly.

The Ravens have said they could go into the season with Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young as their starting inside linebackers, but that still doesn’t seem like the optimal answer for replacing the departed C.J. Mosley. Onwuasor came on strong as a playmaker at weak-side linebacker, and ideally, he’d remain there. Young proved he could hang in the NFL as a rookie, but he was inconsistent as a tackler and below-average in coverage.

DeCosta could still find a veteran solution as the secondary free-agent market opens up next month, but this was one weakness the Ravens could not patch over in the draft.