The Ravens did a fairly good job positioning themselves for future success on Friday night. Despite holding zero second-round picks, Baltimore stayed the course and maneuvered effectively to address one of their biggest needs and further reinforce another one.
With the 85th pick, the Ravens landed the FBS’ all-time sack leader, Jaylon Ferguson. Then, they traded up nine spots to select Miles Boykin, an athletic receiver from Notre Dame with a solid skill set and good upside.
With Ferguson and Boykin heading to Baltimore, what does it mean in the big-picture?
Winner: Matthew Judon
For several weeks now the talk has been about replacing Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs on defense, which the Ravens finally took a crack at in selecting Jaylon Ferguson in the third round. What the addition of Ferguson also does, in addition to adding much-needed talent on the edge, is take pressure off of Matthew Judon, the only established edge rusher on the roster prior to last night. Ferguson’s presence will make it harder for teams to key in on Judon and make other players beat them, like Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. If they try this strategy, Ferguson is more than capable of making them pay.
Loser: Jordan Lasley & Jaleel Scott
I hate to repeat myself here, but if Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott came out as losers from the selection of Marquise Brown, they’re even bigger losers after Day 2. The Ravens decision to trade up for Miles Boykin is a show of little confidence in their current receivers on the roster, which include both Lasley and Scott. It’s hard to see a scenario in which both of them make the roster given there’s now five roster locks at the position. Frankly, it wouldn’t be surprising to see neither of them on the team next year. If so, it’ll mark a short but disappointing tenure in Baltimore. I just don’t see DeCosta using two of the team’s first three picks on wideouts if he truly believes either Lasley or Scott factor into Baltimore’s long-term plans.
Winner: The interior offensive line guys
The talk of the town heading into the draft was, in addition to edge rusher and wide receiver, the Ravens need for offensive line help at center and guard. However, three rounds have passed and the team has yet to address either position. This shows they think at least somewhat highly of the current players on the roster, which include Matt Skura, James Hurst, Alex Lewis, and Bradley Bozeman. Baltimore opted to double dip at WR before getting an offensive lineman, which suggests they don’t feel as though an immediate plug-and-play starter is necessary.
Loser: “Best player available”
The Ravens had a plethora of options to choose from with both of their third-round picks. While Ferguson and Boykin represented great value at their respective slots, they weren’t necessarily the top-rated prospects available on the board. With players like Hakeem Butler and Chauncey Garnder-Johnson available, whom many considered first-round talents, it would have been easy for Baltimore to pounce on a sliding prospect like these two, or even someone like Mack Wilson or Riley Ridley. However, they opted for personal preference, positional need, and scheme fit over the “best player available” mantra and still came away with two good prospects at a great spot.
Each of the Ravens first three picks are joining former college teammates in Baltimore. Marquise Brown, who went to Oklahoma, played with Orlando Brown Jr. and Mark Andrews in college. Jaylon Ferguson and Kenneth Dixon played together at Louisiana Tech in 2015, when Dixon was a senior and Ferguson was a freshman. There’s also Miles Boykin, who joins former collegiate teammate Ronnie Stanley. The two were at Notre Dame together in 2015, too, although Boykin didn’t play his freshman year. Already having familiarity and close relationships with players on the team will help Brown, Ferguson and Boykin adjust to their new surroundings and hopefully make for a more seamless transition.
Quick little side note here. Has there ever been an incoming rookie class in NFL history with two players possessing better nicknames than “hollywood” and “sack daddy”? You’d be hard-pressed to find one. In fact, those might be two of the best nicknames in the entire league already. Shoutout Gus Johnson and whoever gave Ferguson that unique label.