After day one of the annual NFL draft, the Ravens came away with one of college football’s top receivers even though he was small and far from the prototype. But on day two, the Ravens might have gotten better by adding edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson and receiver Miles Boykin, both third-round picks.
The Ravens wanted and needed a pass rusher coming out of the draft, and by most accounts they got a good one when they selected Ferguson out of Louisiana Tech with the No. 85 overall pick.
Ferguson, at 6 feet 5 and 271 pounds, might not become an instant starter in the NFL but should become a complete pass rusher by the end of the 2019 season. He certainly provides the Ravens with an option after the team lost two pass-rushing outside linebackers in free agency — veterans Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. He will push third-year outside linebacker Tim Williams for playing time.
Ferguson doesn’t come with the pedigree of some of the players out of Alabama or Oklahoma, but he is respected as a power rusher who collected 17½ sacks last season. It’s hard to rack up double-digit sack totals in any league on any level, but nearly collecting 20 is impressive and usually impossible.
When you watch Ferguson on film, he doesn’t appear overly athletic. But he plays with a lot of power and has good strength in his arms. He can move offensive linemen when engaged. He also has shown versatility, being able to play standing up or putting his hands in the dirt. While he is mostly an edge rusher, he does have the strength to hold the edge and anchor down against tight ends and tackles, which will become a priority while playing with the Ravens.
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The power game, though, doesn’t always work well alone in the NFL. That game might be better suited for nose guards and tackles than edge rushers. There are some limitations with speed, too, but pure quickness to the outside is a great asset. Ferguson is going to have to develop more moves to become an effective pass rusher. He’ll have to work better and harder with his hands.
But at least the Ravens are working to build through youth instead of holding onto an aging player such as Suggs, who wore down at the end of the past couple of seasons. Maybe Ferguson will show more flash and consistency in his rookie season than Smith, who played reasonably well in his first year.
“I’m ready to fire it up,” Ferguson said. “I’m ready to go right now. I had a great time talking to [defensive line coach Joe Cullen] on my visit. That was one of the first visits I took. Now I’m happy to be back and be part of the programs.”
Boykin appears to be a late bloomer. The Ravens thought highly enough of him to trade up to get him with the 93rd overall pick. Boykin’s stock started to rise at the scouting combine, when Notre Dame’s leading receiver in 2018 ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash time.
That’s impressive, especially coming from a receiver with a 6-4, 220-pound frame. Boykin didn’t always make spectacular plays at Notre Dame, but he came up with clutch receptions. He had 59 last season for 872 yards and eight touchdowns.
Combined with Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown, whom the Ravens took in the first round Thursday night, the Ravens have great speed. Boykin, because of his size and speed, can be used on the outside. Brown, because of his athleticism and versatility, can be used outside or in the slot.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Boykin said of playing with Brown. “He’s definitely a big-play threat. You know I’ve loved watching him play, but at the same time we’re two different receivers. I think our games are really going to complement each other.”