Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said the organization accomplished most of its objectives during the three-day NFL Draft that ended April 25, although the Ravens did not select any edge rushers in their 10-member draft class, and he suggested they will look at other avenues to address that shortcoming.
In this unprecedented, pandemic-affected draft, with every team’s top officials hunkered down in war rooms at their homes and connected to their staffs via video technology, the Ravens rebuilt their inside linebacker group that was perhaps the thinnest unit on the team, they added a pair of sure-handed wide receivers, drafted a record-setting running back and added more bulk to the interior of their lines.
“We did the best we could,” DeCosta said via video conference call from his home office after the draft ended. “We tried to draft the best players that checked off the most boxes that can help us right away and also long-term.”
For all the Ravens accomplished with their 10 picks, they will face scrutiny for not addressing the edge rusher position after ranking 21st in the league last year with 37 sacks. Matthew Judon, who received the franchise tag this spring, led the team with 9.5 sacks last year. No one else had more than five.
“In most cases you’re always going to have a hole that kind of stays open,” DeCosta said, “but we’ll continue to try and fill those holes.”
On the final day of the draft, the Ravens selected four players — adding one via a seventh-round trade. They bolstered both lines by selecting Michigan guard Ben Bredeson in the fourth round and defensive tackle Broderick Washington Jr. from Texas Tech in the fifth, and then they closed out their 2020 draft by picking SMU wide receiver James Proche and Iowa safety Geno Stone in the seventh round.
The Ravens moved up 24 spots in the seventh round and acquired an additional seventh-round pick via a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, giving up a 2021 fifth-rounder in the process, and DeCosta said they worried that Proche — whom they praised for his sure hands and punt return ability — would not be there for them with their original No. 225 seventh-round pick.
Bredeson (6-foot-5, 315 pounds), a two-time captain at Michigan who made 46 starts at left guard for head coach Jim Harbaugh, gives the Ravens another option who could compete for the huge vacancy left by the retirement of All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda.
Bredeson and Tyre Phillips, taken with the final pick of the third round, immediately step into that competition, along with Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari and potentially other veteran free-agent acquisitions.
In the fifth round, the Ravens selected the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Washington as they continue to put offseason emphasis on their defensive line. The Ravens selected Texas Tech defensive lineman Justin Madubuike in the third round, after acquiring defensive end Calais Campbell via trade and signing defensive Derek Wolfe as a free agent.
Director of pro personnel Joe Hortiz said Washington has positional flexibility but sees him as a defensive tackle for the Ravens, who lost interior defensive lineman Michael Pierce to free agency.
“We always want to continue to be as strong up front as we can,” DeCosta said. “That’s something that … [head coach John Harbaugh] has stressed, that we are as strong as we can be on the offensive and defensive lines. … I know sometimes our fans don’t think that’s maybe sexy, but we do.
“It’s important for us to control the line of scrimmage and be a physical football team,” he added.
At the same time, the Ravens continue to emphasize speed, and team officials stressed that as a key attribute with several picks in this draft.
The Ravens have the luxury of returning the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player in quarterback Lamar Jackson and multiple Pro Bowl selections on both sides of the ball, but for the Ravens, this offseason, and this draft, has been about building a team that can’t be bullied and pushed around as they were in a divisional round upset loss to the Tennessee Titans.
It was about getting stronger up front, getting faster everywhere and adding tough, explosive weapons to create an offense that DeCosta hopes can become “undefendable.”
“It was a good three days,” DeCosta said. “We got a lot accomplished. … We think we got better as a football team.”
Here is the Ravens’ full 2020 draft class:
1st round – ILB Patrick Queen, LSU
2nd round – RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
3rd round – DL Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
3rd round – WR Devin Duvernay, Texas
3rd round – ILB Malik Harrison, Ohio State
3rd round – OL Tyre Phillips, Mississippi State
4th round – G Ben Bredeson, Michigan
5th round – DL Broderick Washington
7th round – WR James Proche, SMU
7th round – S Geno Stone, Iowa
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