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Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

The Ravens' newly signed Safety Tony Jefferson had some interesting criteria when it came to choosing which team he would sign with during free agency.

The 25-year-old former Cardinals defensive back was a hot prospect on the market this off season. He signed a four-year deal worth $34 million with $19 million guaranteed on the first day of free agency. He had an offer from the Browns for more money but told NFL Network that he didn’t take the offer simply because “ I don’t play football for money.”

Other important criteria when it came to picking a team? What uniform looked best on Jefferson, and to see which one looked best on him he used Madden. He told NFL Media:

“I am a guy of swagger, so I gotta check the swag at all points before I make a decision. I put myself in different uniforms on Madden to see what will look better. Ravens did look good, though.”

His favorite uniform combination of the Ravens? Black on black.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Jefferson mentioned to NFL Media that fellow Ravens Safety Eric Weddle reached out and sold him on signing with the team. The demeanor of head coach John Harbaugh and how the Ravens run their front office also helped him make his decision.   

“ [Ravens coach John Harbaugh is an] exciting dude. He talks to his players, and Eric was telling me that the coaching staff and front office guys aren't like other front offices. They actually enjoy being with their players and talking to them and let you be who you are. Just stay in the confines of the organization and don't draw any negative attention.”

           

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What type of running backs are the Ravens looking for in this year's draft? GM Eric DeCosta explains

What type of running backs are the Ravens looking for in this year's draft? GM Eric DeCosta explains

The Ravens’ draft needs mostly stay within the front line on either side of the ball. 

They could use more defensive line and edge-rusher help, as well as more depth and a starter at inside linebacker. The interior offensive line could use depth, as could the tackle position. 

Aside from wide receiver, the Ravens’ needs aren’t all that flashy. 

But when the Ravens are on the clock with the 28th selection, should they stick to their best player available mantra, that could mean a running back comes off the board.

“You have to be big and strong and physical, but you also have to be durable,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “That's a really important criteria for that position, and also be intelligent. We feel like we have a really good group of running backs on our team, and it'll just basically be who's available when we pick.” 

The Ravens set the NFL’s single-season rushing record last season due in large part to Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, but also backup running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. 

At a position that is loaded, and also the heartbeat of the Ravens’ offense, there doesn’t appear to be any clear openings. 

“We set the record for rushing last year, so it's going to be hard for us this year,” DeCosta said. “So, we have to find as many good players as we can. I think that position is critically important to our offense.”

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That hasn’t stopped a few mock drafts from around the league projecting the Ravens might go with a running back in the early rounds. Should they do that, a few names to watch are D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers and J.K. Dobbins. All figure to be a few of the top running backs off the board. 

Even if the Ravens don’t pick a running back early in the draft, there’s still the possibility of selecting a back late with one of the Ravens’ nine draft choices. 

Should that happen, there will be a competition for the top three spots on the depth chart at running back for Baltimore.

“There are certainly running backs all throughout the draft in each round – first round all the way through the seventh round – guys that we think have the opportunity to come in and help us be the best team we can be, and we'll look at that,” DeCosta said.

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John Harbaugh concerned about potential hackers during virtual draft

John Harbaugh concerned about potential hackers during virtual draft

John Harbaugh is confident in the Ravens’ ability, as an organization, to manage the quarantine and go through as normal of an off-season as possible. 

His confidence in the off-season technology they’ll be using, however, is not as high. 

With members of the Ravens’ front office confined to their homes from now until the NFL Draft on April 23, they’ve had to adjust accordingly with virtual meetings and scouting sessions. 

Harbaugh has been assured by the IT department that they’ll be safe from any problems.

“My level of involvement has been every time I read something in The Wall Street Journal or New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is or some of these other deals that came out this morning, I immediately text it to our IT people,” Harbaugh said. 

The Ravens have been using the popular video conferencing site Zoom for their pre-draft meetings. 

“I’ve got some real concerns about that, and hopefully we’ll be okay,” Harbaugh said. “It’s kind of like that. We’ll see what happens. I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that.” 

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General manager Eric DeCosta, though, is a bit more confident than the head coach is.

“I have more confidence in Zoom than I do in Ozzie (Newsome), John, (owner Steve (Bisciotti) and team president Dick (Cass), with a copy of our draft board that they just leave in the car on their front seat or something like that,” DeCosta joked.

While the Ravens are focused on a virtual world as it relates to the NFL Draft, off-season workouts aren’t far behind. 

From there, the Ravens are waiting for word from the NFL on what their program over the summer could look like. That includes contingencies for both in-person and at-home workouts.

“I think it's up in the air just like it is with everything else with this situation,” Harbaugh said. “We've been told possibilities. We're kind of preparing for all that. The new CBA changes up some of the rules as far as what you're allowed to send them in their playbooks, some of the video teaching overlays, talk-overs and things like that.”

Harbaugh ensured they’ll be ready for any situation, but just like the rest of the NFL, and the country, the Ravens are playing a waiting game for what’s next.

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