Ravens add secondary help with Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa in fourth round of NFL draft

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens continued to add depth to their secondary by selecting Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa with the 130th overall pick and their second fourth-round selection on Saturday in the final day of the NFL draft.

It was another valuable pick for Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta. Some draft boards projected Tampa as a late first-round pick.

“They always say the draft is unpredictable, and of course, I would have liked to have gone earlier,” Tampa said. “And it’s definitely a chip on my shoulder from here on out; for all the teams that skipped me and all the corners that went before me, and I’m going to use that as fuel every day.” 

Tampa is widely regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the nation. Last season, he started all 12 games during the regular season and earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches and the Associated Press. Tampa was also named Associated Press Third-Team All-American, becoming the first Cyclone defensive back to earn All-America honors since Brian Peavy in 2018.

Tampa finished the 2023 season with 44 tackles, including three for a loss, with two interceptions and seven pass breakups. He allowed just one touchdown in his last 497 coverage snaps.

“T.J. is a guy that, quite honestly, we would’ve taken in the second day of the draft,” DeCosta said. “[He] is a press corner; [he’s] long [and] just a guy that we think really fits what we do very, very well.”

Tampa was the second cornerback selected by the Ravens in the first four rounds of the draft. The team selected Nate Wiggins from Clemson with the 30th overall pick. It was the first cornerback the Ravens selected in the first round since Marlon Humphrey with the 16th overall pick in 2017.

Tampa and Wiggins were roommates at the NFL Combine, so they will be reunited with the Ravens.

“We don’t get to talk too much because we’re busy all day,” Tampa said. “The most I ever asked him is when he set his alarm.”
After committing to Iowa State, Georgia coach Kirby Smart tried to recruit Tampa after watching him during a 7-on-7 tourney. However, Tampa remained loyal to Iowa State and finished his career in Ames.

Wiggins, who is 6 feet 1, 182 pounds, is a lockdown defensive back who allowed just one completion of 20-plus yards last season. He ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

“Honestly, I didn’t think Nate would be there for us,” DeCosta said.

The Ravens also added wide receiver Devonte Walker from North Carolina in the fourth round and the 113th overall pick. Last season as a junior, Walker appeared in eight games with six starts and had 41 receptions for 699 yards and seven touchdowns. He was named third-team All-ACC.

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