No offense, but Ravens load up on defense during second day of draft

About 90 minutes before the second day of the NFL draft started, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees giddily discussed what it meant to add first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey. By night's end, general manager Ozzie Newsome would provide Pees' defense with so much more while failing to add any pieces to an offense that struggled last season.

Continuing their plan of beefing up their defense, the Ravens used all three of their second-day selections to solidify their front four and jumpstart a pass rush that was nonexistent for much of last season.


They took Houston edge rusher Tyus Bowser with their lone pick in the second round at No.47 overall. With the first of their two third-round picks at No.74, they selected Michigan defensive end Tim Wormley. They then finished their night by taking Alabama's Tim Williams, one of the draft's best pass rushers who fell in the draft because of off-the-field concerns.

All told, the three players they drafted combined for 46 sacks over the final two college seasons.


"We're just trying to get very, very strong on defense," Newsome said. "With the opportunity that was presented to us in the first three rounds, we took advantage of it."

The Ravens entered the draft with some clear needs on both sides of the ball. They wanted to add at least one target for quarterback Joe Flacco and solidify the offensive line. On defense, they were looking to add an edge rusher, an inside linebacker and improve their depth along the defensive line and in the secondary.

Through two days, they have checked off nearly every box on defense, except for an inside linebacker, while not doing anything to help Marty Mornhinweg's offense. Ravens coach John Harbaugh joked that after the final pick of the night, several coaches went up to Mornhinweg and gave him a hug.

"We're a defensive team. We've always been a defensive team," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "We got four players, to this point, that we're really excited about. We think, exceptional value, for all four picks."


Harbaugh said when they prepared to make their final pick at 78, Mornhinweg walked to the draft board and gave the nod to pick Williams, who was still available to the surprise of Ravens' officials.

"You're trying to build the strongest team that you possibly can based on what's available. You take the best players," Harbaugh said. "I know we say that a lot, you take the best available player. You do, you take the best player. If you have the best players sitting there staring you in the face, you take him. That's what we've done and it's turned out to be defense and we're all happy with that. If it had been four offensive guys, we'd have been happy with that. That's the way it would have gone. So, this is just the way it's gone."

The Ravens have three picks remaining in Saturday's final day with one each in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. Newsome said he expects there to be an opportunity to trade back in the fourth round and accrue another pick or two. Offense figures to be the focus, but Newsome has reminded everyone once again this year that the Ravens will stick to taking the best-player available.

Bowser had 8½ sacks and 12 tackles for loss in just eight games for the Cougars in 2016 as he missed a month of action when he broke an orbital bone in a fight with his teammate. A top-level athlete at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Bowser played two years of basketball at Houston before committing to football.

In four seasons on the gridiron for Houston, the 21-year-old Texas native had 21 ½ sacks and 27 ½ tackles for loss in 48 games. He also had 136 tackles, eight pass breakups, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while starting 23 games.

"They're getting a great player -- a guy that's good on and off the field, that's going to work hard and play hard and that's going to rush the passer and that also is going to be a huge factor on special teams," Bowser said.

Wormley, who is 6-foot-5 and 298 pounds, was a first-team All-Big 10 selection last year after notching six sacks and nine tackles for loss last season for the Wolverines. He's a defensive end who will compete with Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi for snaps in the Ravens' defensive line rotation. The Ravens lost starting defensive end Lawrence Guy who signed with the New England Patriots as a free agent.

In four college seasons, Wormley had 17½ sacks and 31½ tackles for loss. It's the second year in a row the Ravens tapped their Michigan connection – Harbaugh's brother, Jim, coaches the Wolverines – to add another piece to their defensive line rotation. They picked Willie Henry in the fourth round last season.

Four picks after the Wormley selection, the Ravens looked at the top of their board and Williams was still available. Williams had 19½ sacks over the past two seasons at Alabama and was regarded as the one of the most explosive pass rushers in the draft.

However, Williams admitted to failing multiple drug tests in college and he also had an arrest on gun possession charges. The Ravens hosted Williams for a pre-draft visit and are convinced that he's serious about turning his life around. Williams recently became the father of a newborn daughter.

"I'm knowing that I'm not going to be here forever, so I have to leave a legacy," Williams said. "I have to ...  be their role model, be their hero, because I have to be the breadwinner for my family. My newborn, she's a beautiful baby girl, and she's going to be born into being a Raven."

The Ravens had just 31 sacks last year with just six teams getting fewer. Their failure to get to the quarterback doomed them late in 2016 losses to the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers that contributed to the Ravens missing the playoffs.

Urgency to add to their pass rush only increased this offseason following the team's release of veteran Elvis Dumervil and the trade of Tim Jernigan to the Philadelphia Eagles. Terrell Suggs, the team's all-time leader in sacks, is also turning 35 in October.

However, it still was surprising to see the extent to which the Ravens loaded up on pass rushers.

"They can get after the passer. All three of them, they know how to do it," said Joe Hortiz, the team's director of college scouting. "We're fired up with the guys we got."


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