The Ravens took Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike with the No. 71 overall pick in the third round Friday night, continuing their offseason investment in their defensive line.
As a junior last season, Madubuike earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors after finishing with 11½ tackles for loss, 5½ sacks and one interception in 11 starts.
At 6 foot 3, 293 pounds, he might not have the size to step in for Brandon Williams or former college teammate Daylon Mack at nose tackle, but his explosive qualities make him a potential force as a three-technique lineman. He could split time there with free-agent signing and defensive end Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell, the versatile Pro Bowl defensive end whom the Ravens traded for last month.
“He’s an explosive guy — a really quick, twitchy, heavy-handed guy," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “One thing that really jumps out at you on the tape ... is [that] he can leverage blocks. So he can unload. He can kind of take a blocker’s balance away, and then turn him and work edges. He does it both in the pass game and in the run game, and he got to the quarterback a lot. He did have sacks, but he had tons of pressures and tons of quarterback hits. He chased quarterbacks down and stuff like that.”
At the combine, Madubuike showed impressive speed (4.83-second 40-yard dash), strength (31 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press) and lateral agility. But consistency will be key. His quickness off the snap was off and on for the Aggies, and he struggled to keep his balance when his pad level left him vulnerable against blockers.
“He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he’s very explosive,” Harbaugh said. “He doesn’t get moved out of there. He doesn’t get knocked out of there too much. So his whole thing is going to be to learn from these veteran guys, consistency, learn how to do things right and be a pro. I think he’s going to be a little bit of a different-style guy than some of the guys we’ve had in the past.”
The Ravens acquired the pick in a trade down with the New England Patriots, also receiving pick No. 98 in return for Nos. 60 and 129.