The Ravens' two biggest needs heading into the second night of the NFL draft were obvious. After taking offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, and not an impact defensive player, in Thursday night's first round, the Ravens were on the clock in their efforts to find a pass rusher and a starting-caliber cornerback.
But when the second round started to unfold Friday night, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome exercised patience. He made a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to move back two spots, and got an additional fifth-round pick. Several minutes later, he moved back yet again, this time dealing with the Miami Dolphins and dropping four slots while getting an extra fourth-rounder.
By the time the night was over, the Ravens had potentially filled one of their biggest needs and ignored the other while setting themselves up for a busy day today.
The Ravens used their second-round pick on Boise State outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, who had 19 sacks and 30 tackles for loss in his final two college seasons. In the third round and with the 70th overall pick, the Ravens selected another pass rusher, Brigham Young defensive end-outside linebacker Bronson Kaufusi. He had 18 sacks in his last two years with the Cougars.
“We got some guys with big-time motors that play the game the way we like it to be played on the defensive side of the ball,” Newsome said.
Through two days, a theme has clearly developed for the Ravens in this draft as they've added three big, versatile players with clean records. Correa and Kaufusi can both move around, get to the quarterback and hold their ground in the run game.
“We targeted big, smart, tough, physical, versatile guys this year on defense and guys that can do a lot of different things,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. “I think both K.C. and Bronson can line up in a lot of different spots. They do a lot of good things very well.”
Correa (6 feet 3 and 245 pounds) and Kaufusi (6-6, 285) will help Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and 2015 fourth-round pick Za'Darius Smith resuscitate a pass rush that was nonexistent for parts of last season. Kaufusi also could be a solution in replacing defensive end Chris Canty.
“I've been watching these guys since I've been in middle school,” said Correa, who got emotional during his conference call. “I can't tell you guys how excited I am to work with them and how excited I am to play for Coach [John] Harbaugh and all those coaches. Man, it's just an overwhelming experience. I'm so lost for words right now.”
Once defined by their ability to get after the quarterback, the Ravens had just 37 sacks last season, ranking in the bottom half of the NFL. With Suggs turning 34 in October and coming off his second Achilles tendon tear in a four-year span and Dumervil turning 32 earlier this year, the Ravens went after young, dynamic pass rushers.
“They're getting a player that was relentless every single play, a player that wants to make plays, not only for myself but also for my teammates, coaches,” Kaufusi said.
In his four-year career at BYU, Kaufusi had 261/2 career sacks, 44 tackles for loss, two interceptions and five forced fumbles. He figures to immediately be part of the team's defensive line rotation.
Correa, a Honolulu native, had a disappointing last season at Boise State and is still considered a relatively raw prospect. Evaluators, though, believe his speed and athleticism will allow him to make a successful transition to the NFL.
“These two guys are going to run to the ball 100 miles an hour every single play,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens started the second round with the 36th overall pick, traded it to the Jaguars for the 38th overall pick and a fifth-round selection (146th overall), and then watched the Jaguars use pick 36 on UCLA middle linebacker Myles Jack. Newsome said the Ravens had Jack, who faces questions about his knee, on their board but didn't want to take him early in the second.
The Ravens then traded back again, sending the 38th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for the Dolphins' 42nd overall pick, and a fourth-round selection (107th overall). One spot after the Dolphins selected Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose Eastern Kentucky outside linebacker Noah Spence, another pass rusher the Ravens had been connected to often in the predraft process. The Ravens, however, had Correa higher on their board than Spence.
Friday's flurry of activity leaves the Ravens with eight selections today: five in the fourth round (104, 107, 130, 132, 134), one in the fifth (146, and two in the sixth (182, 204).
“We can have a lot of fun in the fourth round,” Newsome said. “Has any team ever had that many picks in the fourth round?”
The Ravens are still looking to add depth to their offensive and defensive lines, and at middle linebacker. But their biggest question remains: What are they going to do at cornerback?
“The pressure is on,” DeCosta said. “We still have a lot of needs and there's a lot of really good players out there still. We have a lot of guys that we're going to target. It's a great opportunity for this team to get better.”