The Ravens showed pure dominance over the Jaguars in their 29-0 shutout win last night. Along with both the first-team offense and defense playing at very high levels, the Ravens’ rookie draft class also earned a chance to show why they were picked in this past year’s draft. A number of undrafted rookies also performed well, giving the Ravens coaching staff and GM Eric DeCosta decisions to make regarding team roster spots. Here’s how the Ravens class picks played last night.
First-Round Draft Pick: WR, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown
Marquise Brown watched last night's game from the sidelines. While awaiting approval for full-contact practices from the Ravens coaching staff, Brown will continue working on individual drills in a non-contact format while his foot continues to heal. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Ravens fans should expect to see the speedy receiver at some point this preseason.
Third-Round Draft Pick: DE, Jaylon Ferguson
Jaylon Ferguson put together a very well-played game. After entering the game in the second half, Ferguson repeatedly found himself in the backfield. Ferguson was a menace to block as he utilized his signature bull-rush to overpower offensive linemen in one-on-one situations. Ferguson also had a nice tackle-for-loss after shooting a gap and finding his way into the backfield. Though Ferguson didn't record any sacks, his ability to push linemen back into the backfield created opportunities for other players, such as Pat Ricard, to end up with sacks. Ferguson dominated the Jaguars’ second-team offensive line; he will need to continue to play at a high level in the following preseason games if he wants to see regular season action.
Third-Round Draft Pick: WR, Miles Boykin
Miles Boykin’s night was overshadowed by inconsistent play. He found early playing time with the starters, but failed to execute when balls were thrown his way. Boykin dropped a pass early in the first quarter but recovered later by using his large frame and extended length to pluck the ball away from the defender and push forward for a first down. Then Boykin dropped another pass, this time from backup QB Trace McSorley, mid-second quarter. Boykin finished the half strong by catching three beautifully thrown passes from McSorley. Each throw resulted in chunk-yardage, and one pass went for a touchdown. However, the touchdown was nullified due to a holding penalty from the LT. In the end, Boykin finished with four catches for 39 yards. Overall, Boykin recovered relatively well from a rocky start and will surely improve after last night’s performance.
Fourth-Round Draft Pick: RB, Justice Hill
Justice Hill had himself a solid night of play. Despite only gaining 33 yards off of 10 carries, Hill’s burst and agility was apparent. At times, he danced a little more than you would like, but his potential to be a game breaker is imperative. Hill also showed strong pass-catching abilities. On one particular play, he took a short swing pass from McSorley, turned upfield, and left a couple of Jaguars defenders in the dust for a big gain. Hill’s rawness and inexperience shows, but he will only improve with more in-game exposure.
Fourth-Round Draft Pick: LG, Ben Powers
Ben Powers played relatively well when taking 2nd-team snaps at LG. He opened up some nice holes and lead blocked for Hill as well as second-year RB De’Lance Turner on multiple occasions. Powers may not be ready to take on starting LG responsibilities with Jermaine Eluemunor and potentially, James Hurst being more fit to handle LG duties.
Fourth-Round Draft Pick: CB, Iman Marshall
Iman Marshall had a very quiet night. Aside from a very nice special teams tackle on a punt return, he saw little action. Marshall will need to step up in the coming weeks if he wants to beat out fellow CBs for more playing time.
Fifth-Round Draft Pick: DT, Daylon Mack
Daylon Mack’s night was also filled with inconsistencies. He earned early playing time when he checked in to start the second quarter. On one occasion, Mack was pancaked by the Jaguars’ center, which led to a four-yard gain. Mack later recovered by shedding a block and making a nice tackle on the Jaguars’ RB for no gain. On another occasion, Mack split a gap and was one-on-one with the RB, but was just a step too slow and couldn't corral him. If Mack wants a roster spot, he will need to play better than he did last night. The Ravens’ defensive line is one of the team’s deepest positions and Mack will need to string together better future performances to give himself a chance at a roster spot.
Sixth-Round Draft Pick: QB, Trace McSorley
Trace McSorley played much better than I expected. After Robert Griffin III went down with a thumb injury, I wasn't sure McSorley would be able to handle backup QB duties. Despite throwing an interception and a few errant passes due to miscommunications, McSorley showed poise and confidence while running the offense. With RGIII still out, McSorley will only improve as he earns more chances to make plays during the preseason.
Notable Undrafted Rookie Performances:
WR Sean Modster made a few nice catches. He also showed good open field burst and a nose for the first down marker.
WR Antoine Wesley didn’t play as well as many expected. He dropped his only target and failed to gain separation. He will need to perform better as he is already on the lower end of the depth chart.
DT Gerald Willis earned some playing time but made little impact. In an already crowded defensive line, Willis will need to show out for the following three preseason games to give himself a shot at a roster spot.