Ravens fans soak up draft spirit at M&T Bank Stadium

Current and former Ravens joined more than 1,000 fans Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium for the team's draft party, eager to welcome the next flock of young talent to Baltimore.

"It's an exciting time, honestly," Ravens linebacker Arthur Brown said. "I really look forward to them being drafted and having the opportunity to see what they can contribute to this team. We're looking for guys that want to make a contribution. It's exciting for them and it's exciting for us to get the chance to bring new guys in to build the program."


With the 17th selection, the Ravens' pick of Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley came later in the evening. So the team opened up its downtown stadium at 6 p.m. for a fan event that featured autographs and interviews with current and former players, on-field games, locker room tours and more.

Fans lined the concourses in search of autograph stations, ran shuttle drills and 40-yard dashes just like Thursday's picks did at the NFL scouting combine, and kicked field goals through the stadium uprights.

But the buzz of draft night wasn't limited to the fans.

"We obviously know what it's like to be on the other side, the anxiety, the uncertainty of knowing where you're going to be," Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (Maryland) said. "But we're definitely excited for the new guys coming in to teach them the ropes."

Smith, a second-round pick in 2011, told the fans during the event that he and his family had to duck out of their house to a rural Virginia firehouse to avoid the crowds who wanted in on their draft-day moment. Ravens center Ryan Jensen also spent the weekend with his family

"It's a lot less stressful this year," said Jensen, who was taken in the sixth round last year out of Colorado State, Pueblo.

Brown, a second-round pick out of Kansas State last year, said he hadn't heard much speculation that he would end up a Raven, but said the day was something he "really cherishes."

"I was at home, I was watching the draft, and I really wasn't expecting a call from the Ravens as far as teams I was projected to," Brown said. "Once I got the call from [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome], he asked me if I wanted to be a Raven. I was just happy and excited.

Former Raven Adalius Thomas, a sixth-round pick in 2000, said at the event that no matter which round the new Ravens are drafted during, it would only be a starting point to a career the player will have to make for himself.

"Your responsibility is not based on where you're drafted," said Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker. "A lot of people slip through the cracks all the time."

The players said the pending draftees were fortunate to enter an organization where even a draft-night event could bring fans from miles away. Brian Harper, 44, and his son, 10-year-old Jack, drove from Broomes Island in Calvert County — around three hours round-trip — to enjoy the draft in a grander setting than their couch.

"We just got autographs, went down on the field, got autographs from cheerleaders," Harper said. "This is great —getting to go on the field is incredible."

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