Given some time to digest the draft, here is a look at the winners and losers solely from a Ravens’ perspective:
Ozzie Newsome: His final draft at the helm of the Ravens’ front office was widely praised, but that’s not why he’s on this list. As he acknowledged Saturday, it will take a few years to determine whether he selected a quality class. What was refreshing was how much Newsome enjoyed the various tributes to him during the draft. From former player and current NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders telling Newsome he loved him after the Lamar Jackson selection to the loud ovation he got following his final pick, Newsome seemed to be extremely moved. It even appeared that he was fighting his emotions during his post-draft news conference Saturday. He is so stoic, focused and private that reporters and fans rarely, if ever, have seen this side of him. Let’s hope we see it a bit more as he embarks on his final season as GM and gets the adulation and respect that he richly deserves.
Eric DeCosta: Newsome gave his longtime lieutenant the ultimate gift in the form of a potential successor for Joe Flacco. DeCosta, who obviously was every bit as involved in the Jackson move as Newsome was, will have plenty of decisions to make next offseason, but likely not having to go and find a future starting quarterback is a huge deal. Sure, DeCosta won’t have a second-round pick next year because that was part of the cost to move up and get Jackson. However, that’s not exactly a crippling price. Adding 12 young players should strengthen the roster as well.
Marty Mornhinweg: The Ravens offensive coordinator has been oft-criticized and he knows that comes with the territory. However, the Ravens haven’t exactly had standout personnel on the offensive side of the ball the past couple of years. But after the Ravens signed three veteran receivers in free agency, they added more offensive pieces in the draft. In Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, the Ravens have two tight ends that can stretch the field and make plays in traffic. The draft also yielded a potential starting right tackle and two more receivers with upside. Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach James Urban also got a young and talented quarterback to groom behind starter Joe Flacco. The Ravens will need a better performance from Mornhinweg as the play caller in 2018, but he at least has a more representative offense to work with now.
Kenneth Dixon: Alex Collins is the Ravens starter at running back and backup Buck Allen’s spot on the team seems secure because he’s developed into a core special teams player. It was widely expected that the Ravens would select a running back in a draft that was loaded with talented ones and that addition would push Dixon onto the roster bubble. However, they didn’t address the position in the three-day draft, which could be taken partly as a show of faith in Dixon. The fourth-round pick in 2016 has been suspended twice and already dealt with a few injuries, including one that knocked him out of all of last season. He has to prove he can stay healthy and get in good shape, and if he does, there appears to be a roster spot for him.
Matt Skura: The Ravens drafted a center in Alabama’s Bradley Bozeman, but it seems highly unlikely that a sixth-round pick is going to step in and start immediately at that spot for a team with playoff aspirations. That means that barring the addition of a veteran, Skura will have a pretty clear path to the starting center job. A former undrafted free agent, Skura started 40 games at center at Duke. However, his starting experience in the NFL is at guard. He’ll be in the spotlight this season for a Ravens team that expects its offensive line to be good.
Joe Flacco: I was tempted to include Flacco on the winners list, too, because he suddenly has a much more versatile array of targets. That, however, is clearly overshadowed by the fact that the Jackson addition means he’ll be under fire more than ever. The Ravens, of course, did nothing wrong here. They would have been foolish not to explore an opportunity to start a succession plan for a quarterback that is 33 years old, has had some recent injuries and has not played consistently well since 2014. Still, I’m sure it’s not easy for Flacco to accept. The bottom line is he can shut a lot of people up and delay Jackson’s insertion into the starting lineup by playing good football. He’s played his best when the scrutiny has been the highest in his career. Let’s see if he can do it again.
Robert Griffin III: There are two ways of looking at this: The first is that the Ravens will want Griffin, a former first-round quarterback, around all season to help mentor Jackson. Griffin obviously plays a much similar style to Jackson than Flacco does. The second is that the Ravens haven’t kept three quarterbacks on their regular-season opening roster since 2009. The latter doesn’t bode well for Griffin, whose contract isn’t significant enough to guarantee a roster spot. If the Ravens deem this a full developmental year for Jackson and don’t want to have to play him, Griffin will be on the team. However, if Jackson makes steady progress through offseason activities and the coaches feel he’s ready to go, the organization might feel that keeping three quarterbacks isn’t the best use of roster space.
Breshad Perriman: The Ravens will almost certainly decline the fifth-year option for their 2015 first-round pick by Thursday’s deadline, meaning he’s entering the final year of his rookie deal. The bigger question is whether he’ll even be able to make the regular-season roster. Last week alone, the Ravens signed Willie Snead, drafted two receivers and also added a couple of college free-agent pass catchers. Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Snead are locks to make the team if healthy and Chris Moore is pretty close to a lock as well because of his special teams play. The Ravens despise cutting draft picks in their first year, so Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley would have to play their way off the team. That’s six receivers before you even get to Perriman, and it would be foolish to dismiss Tim White, Quincy Adeboyejo and DeVier Posey.
Maxx Williams: Taken a round after Perriman, Williams’ first three seasons have been marred by injuries. He returned from a career-threatening knee surgery to contribute primarily as a blocker and he was effective in that role. He’s a well-respected player with how he’s persevered through such a serious injury, but the addition of Hurst and Andrews, plus Nick Boyle being solidified in his role, complicates the tight end picture. The plus is Williams has made himself into a solid blocker, and since Greg Roman arrived, the Ravens lean heavily on multiple tight-end sets. But Williams suddenly has a ton of competition for snaps, and you have to include Vince Mayle, a core special teamer last year, and fullback Patrick Ricard in the conversation as well.
James Hurst: It’s probably a stretch to include him because everybody knew that the Ravens were going to draft a tackle, and it’s not as if they did it with their first-round pick and landed a plug-and-play guy. Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. has far more to prove than Hurst does. He has to come into the various camps in shape and work really hard. Brown will have to clearly outplay Hurst this summer to win the starting right tackle job. Brown’s pedigree and that he was dominant for much of his college career, though, means that Hurst’s hold on the starting right tackle job isn’t as strong as it was this time last week. Still, he is the leader on the depth chart.