Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged that high-round draft misses in the past few years have played a "significant" role in the Ravens lack of success lately, but he expressed confidence in general manager Ozzie Newsome, pointing to his track record of draft success and notable success later in the draft.
The Ravens have gone 31-33 in the regular season in the four years since winning the Super Bowl, and they have gotten little from some key high-round draft picks in that span.
The 2013 draft class stands out for its early-round misses. Safety Matt Elam has done little since the team made him their first-round pick, at No. 32 overall, and second-round pick Arthur Brown -- whom the Ravens traded up to draft -- did even less before being cut last fall.
The 2014 draft produced immediate impact players in the first two rounds in C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan, but the Ravens early picks in the 2015 draft -- first-rounder Breshad Perriman, second-rounder Maxx Williams and third-rounder Carl Davis -- have not measured up to expectation.
"That happens. You ‘miss’ players," Bisciotti said at the "State of the Ravens" address on Tuesday. "I look around the league and see plenty of ‘missed’ players. It’s not just us."
Bisciotti pointed out that the experts at the time raved about Elam and Brown.
"There wasn’t a one that questioned (Elam) being great," Bisciotti said. "When we traded up for Arthur Brown, they said we had two of the best players in the draft – fast, hard-hitting, fly-to-the-football kind of guys."
Bisciotti noted that the Ravens hit on later picks in that 2013 draft, with nose tackle Brandon Williams in the third round, fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth and tackle Rick Wagner in the fifth.
"If you’ve got one of the best nose tackles in football and one of the fullback/H-backs in football and one of the better right tackles in football in a draft, you’d say, ‘OK, they were good.’" Bisciotti said. "If you had flipped them over to say one, two, three, four and five, nobody would have complained about Elam and Arthur Brown. He’s being exposed, because there were higher-profile guys, but in these drafts, we are finding really good players in the later rounds."
This past year, the Ravens drafted plug-and-play left tackle Ronnie Stanley at No. 6 overall – their highest first-round pick since 2000. Although it's early, the Ravens also appear to have made a nice mid-round haul with their five fourth-round picks this past spring. That group includes cornerback Tavon Young, offensive lineman Alex Lewis and running back Kenneth Dixon – all of whom saw significant time as rookies – along with receiver Chris Moore and defensive tackle Willie Henry.
"In these drafts, we are finding really good players in the later rounds," Bisciotti said. Misses such as Elam and Arthur Brown "shined a negative light on Ozzie, but if you think it shook my confidence in Ozzie and Eric (DeCosta), it didn’t. Those things happen, and they happen all across the league.”
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