Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston talks about the Ravens' selection of third-round picks, Orlando Brown and Mark Andrews. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
With the No. 83 pick in the NFL draft Friday night, the Ravens took Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Three selections later, they took a classmate of his, tight end Mark Andrews.
It's not often two picks know each other better than the team drafting them. No wonder Brown called it "unbelievable."
"This is a guy that we came in together, we redshirted together, we've been on scout team together," Brown told reporters in a teleconference Friday. "We've had to work to get to this point, and the Baltimore Ravens and God [have] blessed us with this opportunity to come here together again and continue to build our relationship and friendship and be a part of this amazing team."
Inside it was a white bandanna, along with a pair of gloves and some cleats. Orlando Jr. has worn a bandanna in every game since. (This season, he switched from a white bandanna to a black bandanna with roses, which were Orlando Sr.'s favorite flower.)
"The bandanna, that's kind of been a part of my game," Brown Jr. told ESPN last year. "It's something that I just kind of grabbed on to. It just represents life, and for me, it just gives me an extra chip on my shoulder."
It shouldn't surprise you to know that the son of "Zeus," as Orlando Sr. was known, has always been big.
He was down to 380 pounds as a college freshman at Oklahoma, and a high-protein diet helped him get down to 340 during his redshirt junior and senior seasons. At the NFL scouting combine, he measured in at 6 feet 7 7/8 and 345 pounds. His father's dimensions: 6-7, 360.
When Andrews was 9, his father, a physician, worried something might be wrong after noticing his son's frequent trips to the bathroom.
After a visit to the doctor, Andrews was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a rare form of the disease that occurs when insulin-producing cells within the pancreas are gradually destroyed and fail to produce the hormone that helps the body's cells convert glucose into energy.
"You're always having to test your blood sugar, always finding what your blood sugar's doing. Is it going low? Is it going higher?" Andrews told The Oklahoman.
Andrews wears an insulin pump except when he plays football, he told the newspaper, and keeps sugary snacks close if his blood sugar drops too low. Trainers have had to help check his blood sugar during Sooners practices and games, but otherwise, he said, the disease hasn't been an issue during his football career.
"He's the perfect Type I diabetes patient," his brother told The Oklahoman. "He's meticulous in his management. He understands this disease better than anybody."
A start in soccer
Just days after his childhood diagnosis, Andrews was back in action, competing in a soccer tournament. He was, his brother said, "still a stud": Andrews scored three goals and was named Most Valuable Player.
Soccer, after all, was his first love, he told the Tulsa World. He didn't even start playing football until a coach saw him dunking a basketball and convinced him to come out for the sport.
The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Andrews attributed his footwork and agility to his early days with a ball at his feet.
"There are not a lot of big guys that play soccer," he told the Tulsa World. "But just being able to do that has helped me tremendously, playing soccer. I do credit a lot of what I'm able to do and being agile for a big guy. It's been pretty instrumental to how I play and what I do."
When the Ravens traded back into the first round to pick Lamar Jackson on Thursday night, they not only acquired a quarterback of the future, they authored the ultimate tribute to Ozzie Newsome's draft skills.