Ravens Continue to Zig While Everyone Else Zags - John Eisenberg
Other teams saw the high end of the draft as a chance to get better at what mostly occupies their hearts and minds – the passing game. Twenty-seven of the 66 players picked in the first two rounds were either wide receivers or defensive backs. Add the five quarterbacks and seven offensive tackles also selected and 59 percent of the picks were generally passing-centric.
Months after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl with a fleet of fast receivers, draft experts gave the Denver Broncos high marks for trying to do the same, i.e., build a track team around a young quarterback. Denver drafted three receivers, as did the Las Vegas Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.
When they were due to pick at No. 55 overall Friday night, Florida’s Van Jefferson and Baylor’s Denzel Mims were among the many quality receivers available.
They took a running back.
The goal is more balance. Although the Ravens led the NFL in scoring last season, they did so with their wide receivers ranked last in the league in production. That was problematic when Baltimore fell two touchdowns behind the Tennessee Titans in an eventual playoff loss.
But although they want to pass more, the Ravens will continue to base their offense on the run, firmly countering the prevailing belief in the league that a passing game is the cornerstone of all success.
Ravens 2020 Draft: What We Learned - Todd Karpovich
DeCosta liked the depth at wide receiver in this year’s draft. As a result, he wasn’t tempted to use a first- or second-round pick to grab a playmaker. Instead, he traded up in the third round to grab Devin Duvernay from Texas. In addition, Duvernay could be a huge boost to special teams, which were uncharacteristically mediocre the last season. DeCosta said: “He’s a guy that gets upfield quickly with the football in his hands as a punt returner, and that’s an important position. It’s hard to find those kinds of guys that have that special skillset. He has a good mentality. He’s been highly productive at the college level, and I think he fits our team very well.” Baltimore also added James Proche from SMU. He had an FBS-leading 111 receptions.
Drafted No. 55 overall (Round 2)
Despite fielding the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards thriving behind dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson, the Ravens upgraded their RB1 spot with the addition of Dobbins. The 5-foot-9, 209-pounder is a dynamic runner with outstanding vision, balance and body control. He rushed for 2,000-plus yards during his final season at Ohio State while exhibiting the strength, stamina and endurance to carry the load as a workhorse runner. With Ravens’ runners averaging 5.09 yards per carry in Jackson’s 22 career starts, Dobbins could play at a Pro Bowl level as a rookie in a read-option offense that routinely gashes defenses lacking discipline at the point of attack.
Favorite: S Geno Stone, Iowa (219)
Stone goes to an ideal scheme where he can roam as a playmaker in Baltimore. He was the highest-graded safety in coverage over the past two seasons.
Least Favorite: G Tyre Phillips, Mississippi State (106)
They wanted a people-mover, obviously, and Phillips is that. The value in the third is just a bit rich for us.
3 Baltimore Ravens questions that linger after 2020 NFL Draft - Aaron Kasinitz
What does the future of their edge rushing position look like?
Over the draft’s three days, the Ravens were aggressive in addressing some of the thinnest areas on their roster. They selected two interior defensive linemen, two inside linebackers, two receivers and two options to play offensive guard.
They did not, however, draft even one edge rusher.
And that stands as a mild surprise because the team’s future at that spot remains murky. Just one outside linebacker, 2019 third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson, is signed with Baltimore beyond the 2020 season.
An infusion of young, capable edge-rushing talent would’ve given the Ravens more roster flexibility as they aim to develop Ferguson and tiptoe through contract negotiations with Judon. It might’ve also afforded defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale more skill with which to work in the immediate future.
General manager Eric DeCosta doesn’t need to panic about his outside linebacker rotation. He has time to find solutions. It’s just clear he’ll need to turn his focus to that position group soon.