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Ravens News 5/11: Gaming the Draft and more

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

How Eric DeCosta Played ‘The Game’ to Perfection - Ryan Mink

So I asked DeCosta during his appearance on “The Lounge” whether his pre-draft comments were an effort to dissuade the Packers from moving up.

“I would just say no comment other than to say the draft is a game and there’s a strategy involved,” he said. “You try and be as gray as possible with everything that you say. You never want to give anybody a strong indication on what you’re going to do. We’ve learned the hard way over the years.”

“I think one thing people will learn, eventually, is sometimes what we say leading up to the Draft, there’s different ways to interpret those types of things, and it’s a game. The Draft is a game,” DeCosta said after Day 3 concluded.

“It never serves us any purpose to give away any inside information. We’re not going to talk about players that we love. We’re not going to talk about players that we want to pick, strategies, all those types of things. And so, for us, we’re competing with those other teams.”

“My job as GM is to understand league value. How does the league see this player – not just you,” DeCosta said. “That’s a big part of my job. You win some and you lose some.”

Twelve Ravens thoughts ahead of rookie minicamp - Luke Jones

That said, Baltimore-Cleveland could usurp the AFC North’s longstanding best rivalry this season as Pittsburgh clings to the December of the Ben Roethlisberger era. Might we see the first Ravens-Browns meeting on Sunday Night Football since 2004 when it was on ESPN and still playing second fiddle to Mondays?

With Gus Edwards entering a contract year, the Ravens not taking a Day 3 running back appeared to be good news for Justice Hill. Meanwhile, fellow 2019 draft picks Miles Boykin and Jaylon Ferguson couldn’t have felt great about Baltimore drafting two players each at their positions.

Much was made about the tight end position not being featured as prominently last year, but drafting two more wide receivers and fullback Ben Mason doesn’t figure to create an easy path to a roster spot for another true tight end. Is there room behind Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle?

Ravens DB Brandon Stephens: Emotions On Draft Night Reflective Of His Journey - Luke Jackson

“When I got the phone call, I had just a flashback of everything that I’ve gone through in the past three, four years,” Stephens said. “Every decision I’ve made and every workout that I’ve had and all the moments — just everything, man — I just had a whole flashback of what I’ve been through.

“I’ve always had a love for the position,” Stephens said. “I played it a little bit in high school. I just felt like playing on the defensive side of the ball was my best chance at getting to this point. It just all started with my love for the position. I really didn’t hesitate to make the transition and make the switch. I knew it was the right call. I just talked to my family about it and we just went with the decision.”

“He’s a really good open-field tackler. He’s physical. His mentality’s very, very physical. He’s got an attacking mentality,” Dykes said of what makes Stephens a versatile player. “He’s durable just because of his size and his strength. He’s going to be a big impact on teams. He understands how to play the game. He’s always in a good football position. He anticipates the game well. Just because he has played on offense, I think he probably sees the game a little bit differently than some defensive players.”

Regrading the 2018 NFL Draft: Colts, Buccaneers get perfect marks, Cardinals fall from ‘B+’ to ‘D’ - Pete Prisco

Baltimore Ravens

2018 Grade: A

The Skinny: This is the draft the Ravens got quarterback Lamar Jackson, which makes the entire class a good one. He is a top-level quarterback with an MVP already on his resume. But before taking Jackson, they took tight end Hayden Hurst earlier in the first round, and he is now in Atlanta. But they made amends by taking tackle Orlando Brown in the third round — he was traded to the Chiefs but is a good player — and they added starting tight end Mark Andrews later in the third round. Fourth-round corner Anthony Averett has seven starts in three seasons. Starting safety DeShon Elliott and starting guard/center Bradley Bozeman both came in the sixth round.

New Grade: A

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta Will Focus on Final Stretch of Games When Schedule Released - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens have Super Bowl aspirations this season and they’ll have more clarity about the upcoming season when the NFL officially releases the 2021 schedule on Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m.

Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta has a ritual when he finds out the dates and times of the upcoming games.

“I look at December games because I know those are going to be critically important and those can really impact your team,” DeCosta told Pro Football Talk. “Last year was a great example. Our schedule was very tough beginning of the year and our December schedule was pretty fortuitous. We ran the table.

“That was a great thing for us to get into the playoffs, momentum and all those kind of things. I think the December games are very, very big. We’ll look at the home and aways in December. I’ll look at that and we’ll see what it looks like.”