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For the Baltimore Ravens it was all about defense in the 2017 draft

For the Baltimore Ravens it was all about defense in the 2017 draft

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens returned to their roots in the 2017 NFL draft.

Baltimore took a defensive player with each of its first four picks, shoring up the backfield with first-round selection Marlon Humphrey before adding two linebackers and an end on Day 2.

Big plays, long passes and flashy fantasy football running backs draw most of the headlines these days in the NFL, but for Baltimore it's all about defense.

Humphrey was a starting cornerback for the second-ranked defense in the country.

The three players selected on Friday -- Tyus Bowser of Houston, Michigan's Chris Wormley and Tim Williams of Alabama -- combined for 45 sacks over the past two seasons.

"We have always been a defensive team," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "We think there's exceptional value with all four picks. They're guys that really fit who we are, with their skillset, their personality and the way they play."

Bowser, Wormley and Williams should benefit from the tutelage of 34-year-old Terrell Suggs, Baltimore's career sack leader.

"I think he is planning on showing them how to do it, not telling them how to do it," coach John Harbaugh said. "It is going to be fun to watch."

If Suggs and his new friends do their job, then the revamped defensive backfield will have an easier time of it.

After signing free agent cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson, general manager Ozzie Newsome drafted Humphrey and capped the draft Saturday by selecting Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark in the sixth round.

"One of our main focuses this offseason was to really work to improve the secondary and also the pass rush," DeCosta said. "I think we were able to do that."

Here's where the Ravens stand after the draft:

FINALLY, SOME OFFENSE: The Ravens looked to the other side of the ball Saturday, selecting guard Nico Siragusa (San Diego State) in the fourth round and guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor of Texas A&M in the fifth.

Maybe Siragusa was attractive to Baltimore because Tony Siragusa (no relation) starred as a defensive tackle for the Ravens in the 2001 Super Bowl.

The Ravens are in need of a center to replace the traded Jeremy Zuttah, and Nico is willing to try.

"Man, I'm in the NFL," he said. "I'll play whatever."

Eluemunor will likely be given a look at right tackle in place of departed free agent Rick Wagner.

STILL NEED HELP: After going through free agency and the draft, the Ravens still don't have a deep threat besides Mike Wallace.

There's also a void at center and running back, and the team lacks depth on the offensive line and at tight end.

"There are going to be players that are going to be released after the draft. There are going to be players that are going to be released in training camp," Newsome said. "We are not done with the 53-man squad that we are going to play with when we open up against Cincinnati."

INSIDE INFO: Harbaugh's brother Jim is a coach at Michigan, so John received a first-hand scouting report on Wormley.

"I heard great things about him. He is one of the guys that Jim felt very strongly about," John said.

Newsome, meanwhile, has deep ties to Alabama, his alma mater. The addition of Humphrey and Williams brings to nine the number of Alabama players he has drafted.

TWO-SPORT STARS: Bowser suited up for the Houston basketball team for two seasons and Eluemunor played rugby in England, then wrestled and played football in high school.

Because Eluemunor got a late start on his football career, the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder should be considered a work in progress.

FINAL WORD: Newsome beamed after he was done with the draft, even though he didn't get everything he was looking for.

"The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team right now," Newsome declared. "And we will continue to work to get better."

Newsome can't say for sure if he drafted an immediate starter, but he's certain he got some contributors.

"With the attrition that happens in training camp and the season, you have to have depth," he said.

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Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

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USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

RELATED: FIVE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS RAVENS MUST ANSWER

Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.

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Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

Mark your calendars now because the Ravens are already gearing up for their 2018 season.

From the Pro-Bowl all the way to the start of the regular season, here are the key dates.

January 28th: Pro Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 

Safety Eric Weddle, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley will all be in attendance. In addition, Suggs and Weddle were named starters. The game will take place at Camping World Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN.

February 3rd: Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 Class announced

This will be a very important day for Ray Lewis and the Ravens organization as Lewis waits to here if he will be sealed into football history, one day prior to Super Bowl LII. 

February 5th: Waiver system takes effect

The waiver system allows players' contracts or a club's NFL rights to a player available to other clubs in the league. Upon doing this, the other 31 teams can place a claim to obtain him or waive their chance. During this 24- hour period, once a club waives a player it can not take the player back or change his status. Assignments are based upon draft order until the third week of the regular season. If a player does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent. 

February 20th:  First day to franchise or transition tag a player

February 27th- March 5th: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, IN

This seven day period will be crucial for General Manager Ozzie Newsome to get a good look at potential Ravens.

March 6th: Deadline to franchise or transition tag a player

March 12-14th: Teams are allowed to contact and negotiate with agents of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents

March 14th: Start of new league year at 4:00 p.m. ET

At this time, all 2017 player contracts expire meaning teams can begin seeking and signing free agents. Ravens free agents include Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson, Ryan Jensen, Terrance West, James Hurst, Michael Campanaro, Steven Johnson, Ryan Mallet, Brandon Boykin, Crockett Gillmore, Brent Urban and Luke Bowanko.

March 25-28th: Owners Meeting, Orlando, FL

April 16th: Voluntary OTA's can begin

April 20th: Deadline for restricted FA's to sign offer sheets

April 26th-28th: 2018 NFL Draft, Arlington, TX

The Ravens will be heading down to Arlington, Texas in hopes of picking up their next franchise player. Positions needed include wide receiver, tight end, quarterback and outside linebacker.

May 4-7th or 11-14th: Potential three-day rookie minicamp

May 31-June 2nd: Ravens Beach Bash, Ocean City, MD

July 16th: Deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player 

Mid-Late July: Training camp begins

August 2nd: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, OH

August 4th: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Canton, OH

Again, keep this date marked as it could be the day Ray Lewis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

September 6th: Start of regular season