Ravens undrafted rookies happy but not content with making the active roster

The best call that Chris Board, Janarion Grant and Darious Williams got was the one that was not made.

The trio of undrafted rookies who made the Ravens’ active roster skated through final cuts a week ago, avoiding getting the customary phone call to see coach John Harbaugh.

“I actually didn’t get a notice, which is kind of a good thing,” said Board, an inside linebacker out of North Dakota State. “I didn’t get the call. So it feels pretty good.”

Board, Grant and Williams became the second three-member undrafted rookie class to make the team, matching the threesome of outside linebacker Bam Bradley, cornerback Jaylen Hill and fullback/defensive tackle Patrick Ricard from last season. The Ravens have a long history of discovering and retaining undrafted first-year players, adding at least one player to the active roster in each of the past 15 seasons.

“The scouts do a great job and our coaches do, too,” Harbaugh said Friday. “They do a great job of finding those guys, and we had a lot of competition. That’s what you want as a coach — more competition means better practices. To see those guys make it is a real positive thing.”

Each player’s path was different. Grant, a wide receiver from Rutgers, met the team’s need for a return specialist, outdueling second-year pro Tim White. Board’s emergence contributed to the decision to waive popular inside linebacker Albert McClellan. And Williams, a cornerback out of Alabama-Birmingham, benefited from the absences of Jimmy Smith (four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy) and Stanley Jean-Baptiste (broken right arm).

“I think the talent level was very high,” Grant said. “I think we showed the coaches that we belong here and that we were able to play. As a rookie, we still have to be vets regardless of whether or not this is our first year or our third year.”

The rookies’ spots on the team are not guaranteed, however, and injuries and ineffectiveness can lead to further personnel shuffling. Williams said he and his classmates have been reminded by their veteran teammates about the tenuous nature of their positions.

“One thing that they’ve always told me from the beginning is you can’t get comfortable wherever you’re at,” he said. “Of course in the NFL, you’ve got to make plays to stay in the league, and that’s all I’ve got to do. I’ve got to help this team win. That’s always our goal.”

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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