Advertisement

Ravens: 'Our picks were value picks'

When the Ravens made the last of their seven picks right around 4 p.m. Saturday, one of their most anticlimactic draft days in recent history ended, and one of the most uncharacteristic drafts of general manager Ozzie Newsome's tenure was over.

After selecting four defensive players over the first two rounds, the Ravens finished the proceedings Saturday by adding two offensive linemen – fourth-round San Diego State guard/center Nico Siragusa (no relation to Tony) and fifth-round Texas A&M tackle Jermaine Eluemunor – and sixth-round Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark.

Advertisement

With those selections, the Ravens exited a draft for the first time in franchise history without drafting a single offensive skill position player. They didn't select a wide receiver for the first time since 2009 even though they entered the draft with that as a major need.

Their seven-man draft class was the smallest since 2009 and Newsome didn't make a trade in the draft for just the second time in franchise history.

"First and foremost, I think the players that we picked were the best players we picked at that point," Newsome said. "Could we have made some trades? People were calling us for our sixth-round pick just within the last hour but we felt like taking Chuck was the right thing to do.

"Not taking a receiver? Geez, we tried to. We put ourselves in position to do that and it just didn't work out. The players at the point [where] we took them were better than the receivers that were on the board at that time."

Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, who are attempting to guide the team back to the playoffs for the first time in three years, were resolute about what they felt the organization accomplished during the draft.

"We, without a doubt in my mind, improved our football team in the last three days," Newsome said.

Harbaugh said the draft "transformed our football team."

There's little doubt that the Ravens were able to continue the offseason revamping of their defense. With the 16th overall pick in Thursday's first round, the Ravens added one of the best available cornerbacks in Alabama's Marlon Humphrey. The selection, which came after the Ravens attempted to trade up to get in position to grab Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore and also did extensive work on Buckeyes cover man Gareon Conley, gives the team more depth at the position than they've had in years.

With Friday's selection of Houston second-round edge rusher Tyus Bowser, Michigan third-round defensive end Chris Wormley and Alabama third-round edge rusher Tim Williams, the Ravens added three players who combined for 46 sacks over their final two college seasons. It marked the second time in franchise history where the Ravens' first four picks were defensive players.

"All of our picks were value picks. We basically assign a value to each player, a numerical value where they are. I think all of our picks were players that we had higher-ranked than where we got them," said Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. "I think Bowser, Wormley, Timmy Williams – all those guys were players that we were kind of surprised they fell to us.

"We feel really good about it. One of our main focuses this offseason was to really work and improve the secondary and the pass rush – really critical things. I think we've been able to do that, but as Ozzie and John said, we're not done yet."

With the defensive-heavy draft, though, team officials opened themselves up for both questions and criticism, especially since the brunt of their free agent activity was spent fortifying the defense as well.

Quarterback Joe Flacco is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career and since the end of last year, the Ravens lost receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken, and starting right tackle Rick Wagner. They also traded veteran center Jeremy Zuttah while making only one offensive addition: veteran running back Danny Woodhead.

Whatever happened to the pledge to help Flacco and get him more weapons? Even after watching the draft's three top receivers go off the board within the first nine picks, why not grab a wide receiver in a later round? Why not get a complementary receiver to help deep threats Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman.

Advertisement

"To be honest, there were three or four receivers, even some running backs. Like I said, if [Leonard] Fournette would've fell to us, we would have taken him," Newsome said. "We weren't shying away from certain positions, but we will get a chance to watch our young guys out on the field. Hey, guys, they make a jump from year one to year two. Some of our skill people may be able to do that, but like I said before, we're still hunting. As a group, we're still hunting."

As Newsome has pointed out on several occasions, there are still veteran free-agent receivers available and a few others will likely hit the open market in the coming days as teams look to make room for recently drafted players. Current veteran receivers available include former Raven Anquan Boldin, Victor Cruz, Michael Floyd and Vincent Jackson.

"Am I going to be spending between now and up until we play Cincinnati to continue to improve our football team and try and get an additional wide receiver? Yes. We will continue to work to get that done," Newsome said. "I've come to learn because we sat here last year and the question was asked, 'Who was going to be your inside linebacker?' And we just said, we'll work on it. We already had him here in Zach Orr.

"We have to give our own players every opportunity and that's what John and his staff do: give them every opportunity to compete and win jobs before we just try start scouring the waiver wire."

While they never did turn in a card for a wide receiver, team officials do feel like they added potential help to the offense line with Saturday's selections of Siragusa and Eluemunor. Siragusa was a three-year starter at guard for San Diego State and helped pave the way for record-setting running back Donnel Pumphrey. Eluemunor started last year primarily at right tackle for Texas A&M.

Harbaugh said that Siragusa could be used at guard and center and Euemunor will be given a chance to play right tackle. The Ravens currently only have two positions solidified along the offensive line with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and Marshal Yanda at right guard. Alex Lewis will likely start at either left guard or right tackle.

"We'll put that line out there and see how it shakes out," Harbaugh said. "Alex Lewis has some position flexibility as well. We're going to have some guys competing for spots and we have to find our best five players."

After speaking to reporters following the their final pick, Ravens officials headed upstairs where they were continuing their preparations for the undrafted free-agent process. They were pleased with what they accomplished, but they knew there was plenty more work to do.

"As I stated from the very beginning, the Baltimore Ravens are a better football team right now and we'll continue to work to get better," Newsome said.

Advertisement

Meet Nico Siragusa

School: San Diego State

Position: Guard

Size: 6-foot-4, 319 pounds

Born: May 10, 1994

Did you know? He is not related to former Ravens star and Fox Sports broadcaster Tony Siragusa. … Nico was a four-year starter at San Diego State. … Teammate Donnel Pumphrey went 10 picks after him at No. 132 overall to the Eagles.

Mike Preston's take: He fits the mold of the type of blocker the Ravens want; a powerful guy at the point of attack. He moves well as far as straight ahead blocking and has a wide, powerful base. He uses his hands well, but needs better feet in pass protection. He should challenge for a starting job and might give the Ravens the luxury of moving Alex Lewis from starting left guard to starting right tackle. Overall, should have impact on the Ravens this season.

Meet Jermaine Eluemunor

School: Texas A&M

Position: Guard

Size: 6-foot-4, 332 pounds

Born: Dec. 13, 1994

Did you know? At Morris Knolls Hight School in New Jersey, had a 30-7 record as a wrestler and reached the state finals. … Played rugby growing up in England, where he lived until he was 14. … Played his first two years of college football at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa..

Mike Preston's take: Eluemunor is expected to challenge for a starting position at right offensive tackle but that's not realistic. He is a project, a developmental-type player who will get better with more time. He has good lateral movement, but is inexperienced and stiiff. He has great raw strength and is versatile enough to play tackle or guard. Eventually, he could become the Ravens tackle of the future, but that's down the road.

Meet Chuck Clark

School: Virginia Tech

Position: Safety

Size: 6-foot, 208 pounds

Born: April 19, 1995

Did you know? He's from Suffolk, Va. … Was a strong special teams player for the Hokies, which had to appeal to the Ravens. … Had 296 total tackles and 23 passes defensed in his four-year Virginia Tech career.

Mike Preston's take: Clark has nice size and has a nose for the ball. He started 40 games during his Viriginia Tech career but is coming to a team already stacked with safeties. He has a high hill to climb to make the Ravens roster but plays tough and plays with an edge. Clark is more of a box safety than one who can play on back end with range.

Advertisement
Advertisement