It was perhaps the worst-kept secret of the 2016 NFL draft.
On the night of April 28, the Ravens badly wanted the chance to select Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was available when the Dallas Cowboys were mulling whom to choose with the fourth overall pick. But when the Cowboys demanded the No. 6 pick and a third-round choice for the right to move up two spots in the first round, the Ravens refused to budge.
The rest is history. The Cowboys took Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Jacksonville Jaguars scooped up Ramsey and the Ravens selected Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley.
On Sunday, the Ravens will face a Jaguars team that starts Ramsey and also employs inside linebacker Myles Jack, another player who had been linked to the Ravens.
The Ravens don't usually dabble in the hindsight business. Through a team spokesman, general manager Ozzie Newsome and assistant general manager Eric DeCosta declined to comment.
Coach John Harbaugh did confirm the team's interest in Ramsey and Jack, saying, "We thought they were really good football players. You mentioned Jalen Ramsey, you mentioned Myles Jack and you can go through their draft class. [The Jaguars] drafted a lot of players that we liked and that we had rated very highly on our board. We know what kind of talent they have, and it's not just this year either. You can go back to Dante Fowler, who's healthy now, and others — the free agents they brought in. All of those guys are really good players."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said the organization did not waste much time getting Ramsey's name to the league office on draft day.
"There were a lot of good players up there, but when he dropped to us, it was a no-brainer," Bradley said during a conference call with the Baltimore media Wednesday. "We knew exactly what we wanted to do. Now, having him in our camp and having him on our team … [he is] just the ultimate competitor, really driven. Like I said, highly competitive, a great teammate, and he's going to have a really, really bright future."
Ramsey's pro career began anxiously when he tore the meniscus in his right knee during the team's offseason workout program in May. But he returned in time to participate in training camp and earned the right to start both of Jacksonville's games thus far. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound cornerback has allowed just six catches for 48 yards and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens are just as happy with the production from their first-round choice. The 6-6, 320-pound Stanley made it easy for the team to release former starter Eugene Monroe, has started both games and has given up zero sacks and one quarterback hit, according to Pro Football Focus.
"He's had two 'plus' games," offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said of Stanley. "He got a couple things happen to him this week. He stood in there, got a little bit of a nick and stayed in there and worked."
On April 29, the second day of the draft, the Ravens had an opportunity in the second round to take Jack, the 6-1, 247-pound linebacker from UCLA. But Jack's recovery from a meniscus tear in his right knee suffered in September 2015 and his disclosure that he might need microfracture surgery were red flags that were significant enough to cause him to slide from being a first-round pick.
The Ravens elected to trade the 36th overall selection to the Jaguars in exchange for their slot at No. 38 and a fifth-round choice. Jacksonville grabbed Jack, and the Ravens — after swapping No. 38 to the Miami Dolphins for the 42nd pick and a fourth-round selection — drafted linebacker Kamalei Correa from Boise State.
Correa has contributed on special teams, but has yet to play a snap on defense where he has moved from outside to inside linebacker. The 6-3, 250-pound Correa understands the expectations associated with being a second-round pick, but those expectations don't mean much to him.
"It's not really my concern right now," he said. "I'm just working every day to get better. My main role right now is to help the team in any way possible, and my role is just to play special teams right now. I've accepted that role, and I'm just doing the best I can do each and every day — whether that's on scout team to help the starting offense or whether that's me getting a rep on defense. It's just a role thing and I've accepted my role, and I just keep working every day to get better."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Correa, who is listed on the team's depth chart as the primary backup to starter Zachary Orr, is on the cusp of playing on defense.
"He's right there," Pees said. "We would have no problem putting him in the game in certain situations. If somebody went down or something like that or even if we needed a blow or a rotation right there, we wouldn't have any problem putting him in. He's really come along that way and very, very well. The other guys are ahead of him right now, but I've got no qualms getting him in a game."
For the Jaguars, Jack has registered two tackles while backing up starting linebackers Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith in their 4-3 scheme. Bradley said there is no need to rush Jack's development.
"He's learning two spots and special teams," Bradley said. "He's progressing. We're constantly trying to find ways to speed this up to where he can go in there and the players trust him at a high level, and he's getting closer to that. We got him in some last week. We'll see how he practices this week and where he's at with understanding everything."
So which team came away with the better draft? Time will tell. But at the very least, the Ravens get a glimpse of what their future could have looked like when facing the Jaguars on Sunday..