Grading the Ravens 2017 Draft
When the Ravens drafted a CB in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, my first reaction was one of puzzlement. Didn’t the Ravens just sign Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to bolster the secondary? After thinking about it some more, it became apparent that the Ravens want to maximize every opportunity to improve the team and if that means taking a player that is going to strengthen a position that was already fairly strong, so be it.
As day 2 of the draft unfolded, and nary an offensive player was selected, the approach the Ravens were taking became laughable to some fans and painfully frustrating to others, but by the end of the draft it was incredibly productive. Ozzie Newsome simply refused to reach for offensive players that received lesser grades than their counterparts on the defensive side of the ball. By sticking to the board, the Ravens were able to sure up the defensive line, acquire two extremely high upside pass-rushers and bring in some much needed help for the offensive line. No, they were not able to find any playmaking offensive weapons to help out Joe Flacco, but if you take Ozzie at his word, the organization has very high expectations for players already on the roster. And as Ozzie was also quick to point out, they aren’t done adding talent to the roster either.
With all this in mind, I give the draft an overall grade of B+. If I was just grading on acquiring talent, it would be an A, but I am downgrading just a bit for not addressing what I still think is a pretty big need at WR. However, the overall talent that was added to the roster combined with hitting on other big needs like OLB, CB, and OL makes the draft a resounding success in my estimation.
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A few thoughts on the individual players that were drafted:
Round 1: CB Marlon Humphrey: The Alabama product possesses all the tools you could want from a physical standpoint. At 6’0, with long arms and 4.4 speed, the Ravens are hoping they found a compliment to Jimmy Smith at outside CB. Humphrey shows impressive ability to mirror opposing receivers in man coverage and is a physical tackler in run support. The one big flaw in Humphrey’s game is a tendency to get beat over the top and issues finding and making plays on the ball. Time will tell if he will be able to overcome this issue in the NFL, but the overall athletic profile suggests he will have the physical talent to be a quality NFL CB.
Round 2: OLB Tyus Bowser: The Ravens think they found their future SAM LB in this uber-athletic former basketball player from Houston. Bowser was used in multiple different roles in the Cougars defense, both with his hand in the dirt as a DE and as a stand-up LB. In this sense he is not too different than 2016 2nd round pick Kamalei Correa who could both see snaps at ILB and OLB in Dean Pees’ defense. Bowser’s athleticism and versatility make him a great value in round 2, especially given the Ravens need at the OLB position.
Round 3: DE Chris Wormley: Wormley may have been the most talented player in a loaded Michigan defense. A great athlete at 6’5, 298, Wormley has the strength to anchor well vs the run and the twitch necessary to be a productive interior pass-rusher. He will compete for snaps with Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi at DE while kicking inside on passing downs to rush the passer to help replace the production of Timmy Jernigan.
Round 3: OLB Tim Williams: Tim Williams may be the best pure pass-rusher in the class, but the mountain of baggage that he incurred while playing football at the University of Alabama led him to fall to the Ravens in the 3rd round. If Williams can keep his head on straight he may end up the heir apparent to Terrell Suggs at the Rush LB position. Double digit sack seasons are not out of the question with his pass-rush skill set.
Round 4: OG Nico Siragusa: With ideal size and a road-grating mentality, Siragusa paved the way for a potent rushing attack at San Diego State. He may not start right away, but he will certainly be in the mix to vie for the starting LG position for the Ravens.
Round 5: OT Jermaine Eluemenor: Eluemenor continues a trend for the 2017 Ravens draft class of taking high upside athletes. The Texas A&M product has very limited experience in college and playing football in general, but he possesses rare movement skills. He could end up playing either OG or OT for the Ravens, but he will need time to develop.
Round 6: DB Chuck Clark: The Ravens finished out their draft with yet another outstanding athlete in Clark. The former Hokie will look to make the roster as a reserve safety and ST ace.