Ravens achieve goal of improving secondary and pass rush
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens returned to their roots in the 2017 NFL draft.
Baltimore took a defensive player with each of its first four picks, shoring up the backfield with first-round selection Marlon Humphrey before adding two linebackers and an end on Day 2.
Big plays, long passes and flashy fantasy football running backs draw most of the headlines these days in the NFL, but for Baltimore it’s all about defense.
Humphrey was a starting cornerback for the second-ranked defense in the country.
The three players selected on Friday – Tyus Bowser of Houston, Michigan’s Chris Wormley and Tim Williams of Alabama – combined for 45+ sacks over the past two seasons.
”We have always been a defensive team,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. ”We think there’s exceptional value with all four picks. They’re guys that really fit who we are, with their skillset, their personality and the way they play.”
Bowser, Wormley and Williams should benefit from the tutelage of 34-year-old Terrell Suggs, Baltimore’s career sack leader.
”I think he is planning on showing them how to do it, not telling them how to do it,” coach John Harbaugh said. ”It is going to be fun to watch.”
If Suggs and his new friends do their job, then the revamped defensive backfield will have an easier time of it.
After signing free agent cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson, general manager Ozzie Newsome drafted Humphrey and capped the draft Saturday by selecting Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark in the sixth round.
”One of our main focuses this offseason was to really work to improve the secondary and also the pass rush,” DeCosta said. ”I think we were able to do that.”
Here’s where the Ravens stand after the draft:
FINALLY, SOME OFFENSE: The Ravens looked to the other side of the ball Saturday, selecting guard Nico Siragusa (San Diego State) in the fourth round and guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor of Texas A&M in the fifth.
Maybe Siragusa was attractive to Baltimore because Tony Siragusa (no relation) starred as a defensive tackle for the Ravens in the 2001 Super Bowl.
The Ravens are in need of a center to replace the traded Jeremy Zuttah, and Nico is willing to try.
”Man, I’m in the NFL,” he said. ”I’ll play whatever.”
Eluemunor will likely be given a look at right tackle in place of departed free agent Rick Wagner.
STILL NEED HELP: After going through free agency and the draft, the Ravens still don’t have a deep threat besides Mike Wallace.
There’s also a void at center and running back, and the team lacks depth on the offensive line and at tight end.
”There are going to be players that are going to be released after the draft. There are going to be players that are going to be released in training camp,” Newsome said. ”We are not done with the 53-man squad that we are going to play with when we open up against Cincinnati.”
INSIDE INFO: Harbaugh’s brother Jim is a coach at Michigan, so John received a first-hand scouting report on Wormley.
”I heard great things about him. He is one of the guys that Jim felt very strongly about,” John said.
Newsome, meanwhile, has deep ties to Alabama, his alma mater. The addition of Humphrey and Williams brings to nine the number of Alabama players he has drafted.
TWO-SPORT STARS: Bowser suited up for the Houston basketball team for two seasons and Eluemunor played rugby in England, then wrestled and played football in high school.
Because Eluemunor got a late start on his football career, the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder should be considered a work in progress.
FINAL WORD: Newsome beamed after he was done with the draft, even though he didn’t get everything he was looking for.
”The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team right now,” Newsome declared. ”And we will continue to work to get better.”
Newsome can’t say for sure if he drafted an immediate starter, but he’s certain he got some contributors.
”With the attrition that happens in training camp and the season, you have to have depth,” he said.
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