The DeCosta Way

From a statistical standpoint, a single year's draft is a small sample size. That said, here are some of my takeaways from the 2020 draft.

1. Best (Ravens) Player Available. This is a smoke screen for many teams, but not the Ravens. The selection of J.K. Dobbins was a true BPA selection. DeCosta likely had Dobbins higher on his board than most teams because Dobbins' running style is a good fit for the Ravens offensive, i.e., intelligent, patient, tempo-sensitive. Dobbins also can pass block which something the Ravens covet.

2. Football intelligence. Consider the first and last picks of the Ravens' draft: Patrick Queen and Geno Stone. What they have in common is football intelligence, instinct, and aggression. The primary difference is that Queen is an elite athlete with exceptional measurables. Stone is more of an average athlete (by NFL standards) with subpar measurables.

3. Hands. The primary job of a receiver is to catch the football. In the past, the Ravens have fallen into the trap of drafting fast athletes but who struggled to convert targets into receptions. Devard Darling? Yamon Figurs? Patrick Johnson? It might not seem fair to drop Mark Clayton into the conversation, but he was a first round pick. So was Travis Taylor. Breshad Perriman has shown some signs of life with the Buccaneers but he didn't do anything as a Raven to justify his first round status. The Ravens have had good luck with free agent wide receivers, but DeCosta seems to have figured out a couple of things. It's hard to pick great wideouts and find guys who can catch the damn ball.

4. Meat. The Ravens haven't had trouble developing offensive lineman. The back-to-back guard picks in the 2020 draft demonstrate the basic philosophy. Tyre Phillips fits the Orlando Brown profile of a massive human who didn't test well at the combine. Bredeson is more along the Marshall Yanda mold (although no one is calling Bredeson a future Hall of Famer). Bredeson is a hard-working, blue-collar big conference guard, athletically limited but strong leadership.

5. Meat, Chapter 2. The Ravens love drafting defensive tackles, double dipping in 2020. What I see here is that DeCosta recognize that investing in heavy tackles (who can be expensive) to stop the run isn't ideal. Buying Edge talent is even more expensive. What I see the Ravens doing is looking for interior pass rushers and spending less for the inside space-eaters. Madubuike has potential to provide some interior pressure in addition to keeping Queen clean. Washington is a developmental player without a traditional position. Like many of the Ravens choices, Washington has football IQ but he could be another Bronson Kaufusi. The difference: DeCosta didn't burn a third rounder to grab Washington.

6. Evolution. DeCosta seems to be learning from the Ravens mistakes, and incorporating that knowledge into the Ravens draft board. Draft the best available player and trade away the surplus for more picks. Stockpile picks. Draft football players, not just athletes. Find aggressive, smart, and productive players. Understand that some positions (like interior offensive line) it's smarter to draft and develop. Double up in later rounds on positions where it's harder to evaluate talent. Understand your scheme and build your board around the scheme.

The Ravens wiped the slate clean and built an offense around the unique skillset of Lamar Jackson. While Ravens fans coveted wideouts (and will be watching Denzel Mims development closely), adding Dobbins may add a productive year or two for Mark Ingram. It also gives DeCosta a trade chip in Gus Edwards or Justice Hill.

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