NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal recently released an article ranking all general managers based on their draft success, and he placed Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta 17th on his list based on his first two classes.
Here’s what Rosenthal wrote about DeCosta:
“Ozzie Newsome left big shoes to fill, especially after selecting Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown and Mark Andrews in his final draft [in 2018]. It’s early, but DeCosta’s first two hauls look unlikely to produce a difference-maker. Last year’s first-rounder, Patrick Queen, was the lowest-graded rookie linebacker by Pro Football Focus (min. 20% of snaps), but it’s too early to put a “worst pick” tag on him. The team’s first-round pick in 2019, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, has played his best in the playoffs.”
Rosenthal’s gripe with the Ravens’ first two hauls under DeCosta is their lack of a discernable difference-maker on either side of the football. He doesn’t necessarily dislike any of their selections from 2019-2020 — as evidenced by Rosenthal not selecting anyone as the worst pick so far — but he just feels that there has not been any truly standout picks.
Receiver Marquise Brown is one that he used as a prime example of pick that was a mild success. Brown has caught 104 passes for 1,353 yards and 15 touchdowns from 2019-2020. In three playoff games, he’s caught 18 passes for 322 yards.
“Marquise Brown has played his best in the playoffs, which I do think matters,” Rosenthal said on Glenn Clark Radio April 19. “He’s played great games in the playoffs, which I think is significant. I would say for a first-round pick, that’s a B-minus. You hit a single, you could’ve done a lot worse.”
“Through those two drafts, among those 17 picks you don’t see a true difference-maker,” Rosenthal added.
Rosenthal noted that he thinks DeCosta’s best selection so far has been J.K Dobbins, picked No. 55 overall in 2020. The former Ohio State running back did post 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns while averaging a hyper-efficient 6 yards per carry in 2020. However, he is still not without his flaws, which is evidenced by his minimal contributions in the passing game.
But this isn’t to say Rosenthal doesn’t appreciate DeCosta’s work. He said DeCosta has been one of, if not the most, best general managers at establishing quality depth and filling out the roster through trades and free agency. The Marcus Peters and Calais Campbell trades are two such examples of shrewdly constructing the roster.
“The ways that they fill in depth throughout the roster are some of the reasons that they have been so good the past two seasons, and DeCosta has been a huge part of that,” Rosenthal said. “There’s no team I sort of trust more to fill in the holes deep in free agency.”
Another element of DeCosta’s managerial skills that Rosenthal respects is his recognition of the value of compensatory picks, something many teams don’t take as seriously. The Ravens have additional third- and fifth-round picks this year thanks to the departures of new Houston Texans head coach David Culley and defensive tackle Michael Pierce, respectively.
Rosenthal liked the Kevin Zeitler signing in part because he did not impact the Ravens’ compensatory pick formula for 2022 since he was released by his prior organization.
“The compensatory pick thing is probably why they signed Kevin Zeitler,” Rosenthal said. “That’s another free agency move that won’t count toward that formula because he was cut by the other team and probably we’ll look up Week 15 and be like, ‘Wow, that was a really smart move.'”
The Ravens certainly look ready to compete next year, but the roster is far from complete with the 2021 NFL Draft soon to come. Offensive line, wide receiver and edge rusher are three position groups observers generally see as holes. How DeCosta goes about filling these supposed weak links will go a long way in determining his status on Rosenthal’s list next offseason.
For more from Rosenthal, listen to the full interview here:
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