Thursday night, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta sat nervously waiting to find out if LSU linebacker Patrick Queen was going to reach their spot at 28th overall. His, and the Ravens’, patience turned out.
Friday was more of the same. And once again, the only problem they faced was sweating out whether or not they’d be able to pick the players they wanted.
The Ravens made five picks on the draft’s second day, including four in the third round, as they addressed two of the biggest needs on the team at inside linebacker and offensive line. There were mild surprises, like when they added another inside linebacker and a defensive tackle with the team’s third pick.
But perhaps the biggest surprise was the selection of running back J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State with the 55th pick. The pick showed the Ravens stayed with a best-player-available mindset — and it worked wonders for them.
“We thought he was going to be a first round pick,” DeCosta said after the night concluded. “I learned a long time ago from Ozzie (Newsome), because this happened all the time with Ozzie, these great players would just fall down the board and we would take them. We didn’t really expect it, I don’t think anybody really did. We just had to take him. It just made too much sense for us not to take him.”
Dobbins, a three-year starter, rushed for 2,003 yards in his junior season at Ohio State and never posted less than 4.6 yards-per-carry or 1,000 yards in a season. He added 22, 26 and 23 catches, respectively, in each season and can be a valued asset in the pass game, too.
The Ravens, of course, were certainly lucky in that teams ahead of them passed on Dobbins and a few of the other later picks in the third round. In that regard, the Ravens were a benefactor of circumstance.
They added defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, wide receiver Devin Duvernay, linebacker Malik Harrison and offensive lineman Tyre Phillips — all in the third round — as a trade back from 60th overall gave the Ravens the 71st and 98th picks.
After the Dobbins selection, the Ravens traded out of their pick in the second round in a swap with the Patriots. That could have been influenced by a big run on receivers at the outset of the second round.
“Every draft has its strengths, there are certain positions, offensive line for instance, corner, wideout, you see those guys get taken early and once that starts, it becomes like a feeding frenzy,” DeCosta said.
After six receivers went in the first round, five more went off the board in the seocnd before the Ravens picked again at 55th overall. That led the Ravens to Dobbins, and potentially to the trade where they ended up at 71st overall and picked Madubuike out of Texas A&M.
“It’s unbelievable,” an emotional Madubuike said on a conference call. “It’s everything I’ve been working for, everything I’ve been sacrificing for, and all the blood, sweat and tears. Getting this call, it’s truly amazing. To get my name called on there was surreal. All the highlights of me, and I’m actually there. I’m here, and I made it. And, I’m just ready to freaking work.”
Madubuike will add some youth to a Ravens’ defensive line that, while improved from the 2019 season, has three projected starters (Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell) over the age of 30.
A talented 6-foot-3, 293 pound defensive tackle out of the SEC, Maduboukie registered 11 sacks in his final two seasons as an Aggie.
“You all aren’t playing, and I’m not playing myself,” he said. “It’s a perfect match. We’re ready to work. We’re here to beat the hell out of people and win championships, and I’m ready to be a part of it.”
The Ravens went back to the well by adding to the front seven with the addition of Harrison, another Buckeye, with the 98th pick in the draft.
A run-stopping, more old-school version of a linebacker, Harrison was a two-year starter at Ohio State and made 81 and 75 tackles, respectively, in his last two seasons. He was named First team All-Big Ten in 2019 and despite his perceived flaws, the Ravens were surprised the 6-foot-2, 247 pound linebacker was on the board.
“Malik, obviously, we were fired up to get him there in the third round,” director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. “He’s really just kind of stepped up. John has mentioned it; Eric has mentioned it with his success in his career there at Ohio State. He’s kind of just shown up and performed and done really well.”
Now, the Ravens have completely erased the need at inside linebacker in two days of the draft with Queen and Harrison now onboard. Coach John Harbaugh views them both as interchangeable between the MIKE and WILL spots on the defense, which will only give the Ravens more versatility as they try to get both Queen and Harrison on the field together.
“We can move those guys around,” Harrison said. “Both of those guys have played on the edge of the defense. Both of those guys have rushed inside quite a bit. You can kind of stereotype them a little bit: You have a big thumper, and you have a sideline-to-sideline speed guy. But really, they’ve both done both, and I’m sure that we can do whatever we want.”
While the Ravens biggest need on the roster was erased with the selections of Queen and Harrison, they picked two players to fill needs at their two biggest holes on offense in Duvernay and Phillips.
Duvernay, a one-year standout wide receiver at Texas, caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards in 2019 and was named First team All-Big 12. And once again, the Ravens were a bit nervous their pick — or more accurately, their Devin — was going to be picked before their turn came up.
The Patriots traded up in front of the Ravens to 91st overall to pick tight end Devin Asiasi, which left the Ravens worried for a few moments Duvernay wouldn’t be on the board at 92nd overall anymore.
“I have to be honest,” Harbaugh began with a grin. “I'm going to make the call, and they said, ‘The Patriots took Devin.’ And I'm like, ‘Did we get Devin or not? Who am I calling? What's his first name?’”
Duvernay was on the board, though, and the Ravens pounced on his 4.39 40-yard dash speed to add to an already explosive Ravens offense.
“We just wanted to get another fast guy in the offense, a speed guy,” DeCosta said. “One, you got a guy that caught 106 balls. In his career, he had over 160 catches with one drop. That's what we had in our count. I didn't see a drop on tape this last year. He's only 5-10, (but a) strong, tough, real competitive guy. He has a little chip on his shoulder.”
Baltimore closed out the third round with the 106th pick, where it addressed the offensive line with Phillips out of Mississippi State. At 6-foot-5 and 331 pounds, Phillips is a massive lineman and one that can be versatile. He’s got 35-inch arms and an 84-inch wingspan and bench pressed 22 times at the NFL Combine.
DeCosta said earlier in the draft process that the team could draft a tackle and then kick them down to guard, which would be the case for Phillips — who started at left tackle in 2019 for the Bulldogs.
“He is definitely a guy we looked at as a guy who can move inside to guard,” Hortiz said. “He actually was down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and he did reps at both tackle and guard, or both tackle spots during the week, and saw some action at guard during the game and during the week of practice. When we watched him, we felt like he was a guy who can transition inside to guard.”
With every major need on the roster addressed in some way, it’s hard not to be impressed by the Ravens’ work in the first two days of the draft.
For the second straight night, the Ravens draft board fell about as well as it could have.
“I think it was a successful day,” DeCosta said. “I think we got a lot accomplished. We were fortunate to get some guys that they really liked. We tried to address a bunch of needs. We felt like we had some guys fall to us throughout the draft, and the key, I think, is to be flexible with everything that happens.”
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