Ravens stay ahead of field in first three rounds of NFL draft

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta noticed a pattern on the first two days of the NFL draft and worked to stay ahead of the competition.

DeCosta knew that if the Ravens wanted to select a cornerback, they would have to do so in the first round because this was not a deep draft for that position. After DeCosta selected Nate Wiggins from Clemson with the 30th overall pick, four consecutive cornerbacks were taken with picks 40 through 43 as teams followed the Ravens’ lead.

DeCosta also had the same idea with offensive linemen when he drafted Washington’s Roger Rosengarten with the 61st overall pick. After the Ravens made the pick, 10 offensive linemen were taken over 2o selections in the third round, which essentially exhausted the depth at that position.

Over the first two days, the Ravens were able to grab the highest-rated players on their draft board that were also areas of need.

“We took Nate, and then we saw those corners go at the beginning today – all of the guys we liked get picked,” DeCosta said “Then we took Roger, and I’ve never seen anything like what we saw today, where every single guard and tackle on the front board got picked in a span of 20 picks. [I’ve] never seen that before.

“So, that was kind of surprising. It seems like if you’re going to define this draft, it’s the draft of the run. You saw the quarterbacks in the first round, and then you saw the corners at the end of the first into the second, and at the end of the second into the third, you saw the offensive linemen. So, it’s been unusual.”

DeCosta took a cornerback, offensive lineman, and edge rusher on the first two days. The Ravens also signed wide receiver Rashod Bateman, a former first-round pick, to a contract extension, which helped alleviate an urgent need for another wideout.

As a result, DeCosta can focus on taking the best players available over the final day of the draft, regardless of position.

“We’ve gotten pretty lucky,” DeCosta said. “I talked about trading up yesterday, and I was tempted at one point. I got scared today, a little bit, but we just stayed patient, and we were fortunate. I think [that] when your need and best player kind of match up, then you really have something special, and I think that’s happened a couple of times for us.

“And so, it’s good. I think tomorrow, we’re in a position where we’re just basically [on an] open highway, and we can just sit back and just draft the best guys that we see on the board, without any real thought to position or how they’re going to fit roster-wise; we’re just going to draft the best football players.” 

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