Welcome to part two of the Ravens final mock draft, at least as I see it. In part one, we examined the lies the executives get to tell at their annual “Draft Luncheon”, which took place this past Wednesday and we broke down how successful the Ravens have been in the first round and with undrafted free agents. The million dollar question is how do the Ravens, regardless of coach, current roster makeup or league condition, have such successful drafts most of the time. According to general manager Ozzie Newsome, it’s as easy as seeing 20 / 20—sort of.
According to Newsome via the Ravens 2014 Draft Guide, “it’s all in the process”. The “process” includes 19 full-time members of the personnel department, but also has input from Ravens coaches. Most of Ozzie’s staff has been with the team since the franchise started in 1996 or has graduated from the “20/20” club. The “20/20” group includes members who started with the Ravens as young assistants and grew into evaluators with more input. (The term “20/20” refers to hiring “20-year-olds for $20,000.” “Actually, the guys started when they were a little older than 20 and for more than $20,000, but that’s what we call them,” Newsome adds.
The Ravens do not belong to the National Football Scouting group, which provides member teams a list of and reports on players eligible for the draft. “We make our own list, and that means we look at all players on a college roster,” Eric DeCosta, the Ravens’ assistant general manager and a graduate of the “20/20” club, says. Baltimore’s personnel department includes six area scouts, two pro personnel evaluators, who focus on college talent at this time of year, and additional support staff to handle the load. “We do a lot of cross-checking,” DeCosta offers. “A number of us look at everyone, and then we have the area scouts look at certain players from other regions so we get multiple grades and opinions on all the players.”
DeCosta said at Wednesday’s luncheon that this year the team has about 180 players graded and ready to go. This will help the Ravens extend their evaluation process into the undrafted talent pool, which they have had a great deal of success in years past. Once a player is defined as a “draftable” talent by the Ravens, John Harbaugh and his staff are assigned to add more study, which could include visits and workouts with some of the players. “Another advantage we have is that many of us have worked together or known each other for awhile, so we scout the scouts and coaches,” Newsome says. “We may have a scout or coach who has proven he really knows how to spot talent at a certain position. That opinion carries more weight when we’re finalizing the board.”
Newsome encourages all scouts and coaches to have strong opinions. “We have very open dialogue. We want everyone’s opinion, especially from the scouts who have looked at the players the longest. I think another strength of our room is that we respect and listen to each other,” Newsome says.
Newsome always talks about taking the “highest-rated player on our board” when it comes time to select a player. The Ravens’ history proves that. When they had a Pro Bowl left tackle with Tony Jones, Baltimore selected Jonathan Ogden, a future Hall of Famer and 11-time Pro Bowler who was the first pick (fourth overall in ’96) in team history. When they had Pro Bowl players like Priest Holmes and Shannon Sharpe, the Ravens selected Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap in the first round. “When we have grades that are even, we sometimes select the player in the area we have the greatest need,” Newsome notes. “But, our confidence in our staff and the process we use make draft days easy, exciting, and fun. The hay is in the barn, so to speak. The hardest work is done year round prior to the draft.”
RAVENS “20/20 CLUB” GRADUATES
(Current Personnel Staff)
Name Joined Ravens Current Title
George Kokinis (Cle.) 1991 Senior Personnel Assistant
Eric DeCosta 1996 Assistant General Manager
Joe Hortiz 1998 Director of College Scouting
Chad Alexander 1999 Asst. Dir. of Pro Personnel
Joe Douglas 2000 National Scout
Mark Azevedo 2005 Northeast Area Scout
David Blackburn 2007 West Area Scout
Ian Cunningham 2008 Southeast Area Scout
With all of this in mind, here is the second part of my final Ravens mock draft. These picks include Round 1 (17), Round 2 (48), Round 3 (79) & Round 3 (99 compensatory). To view the Ravens second half of the draft, simply click here.
Third Round (Pick 99 compensatory): Jaylen Watkins, CB Florida
Vitals: 6’0 & 194 Lbs. / 30 5/8 “Arm Length / 9 5/8” Hands /
Combine: 4.41 40 yards / 22 reps
The Ravens are dangerously thin at the CB position. Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are both solid starters but both have been injury prone and inconsistent with a lack of focus at critical times. Ozzie Newsome was asked about the position and responded by saying it was an opportunity for Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson to step up. Joe Hortiz was a bit more thorough in his assessment, “I would say corner position-wise, it’s pretty solid. They go off the board fast every year. We’ll see about 12 that go in the first three rounds. The top guys like Darqueze Dennard, [Justin] Gilbert, [Bradley] Roby, [Kyle] Fuller, [Jason] Verrett, they’re probably going to go early. After that, you’ll start to see guys like [Keith] McGill, and they’re all probably going to be second round-type players. The question will be whether they are going to be the highest-rated guy when we’re up. Obviously, we like corners and we’re not afraid to take them. If there is one sitting there and we’ve got him ranked high, we’ll take him.”
I cannot imagine the brother of Clemson star wide receiver Sammy Watkins isn’t high on the Ravens list. Jaylen Watkins has the versatility the Ravens speak of and love in a player. Coming from Florida, Watkins has familiarity with Matt Elam and that’s important. He is a solid athlete and was a versatile football star at Cape Coral, Fla., High as dual threat quarterback, wide receiver and, oh course cornerback. He showed ability last season to play both corner and safety. At the combine he clocked 40 yards in 4.41 seconds; 10 yards in 1.50 second and benched 225 pounds 22 times — all better marks than his highly-rated little brother. If he’s there and most big board’s say he very well could be, then he is likely to be the pick.
Scouts Take: Nolan Nowrocki, NFL.com: Nice size and strength for a cornerback (22 bench-press reps at the combine). Excellent speed. Good fluidity and movement skills. Alert in zones. Flashes some playmaking ability. Versatile — lined up as a corner, safety and nickel defender and played on all special teams. A fluid, loose-hipped, versatile cover man who projects to a No. 3 or No. 4 corner in the pros, Watkins could most ideally fit in the slot, with enough physicality to defend the run and fine short-area cover skills to match up with shifty receivers
Final Word: Frank Cooney, Sports Exchange: Watkins does not seem like a gamble as a natural football player with the chance of playing either cornerback or safety. Hey, how about emergency quarterback?
Third Round (Pick 79): Terrance Brooks, Safety Florida State
Vitals: 5’-11” & 198 Lbs. / 31” Arm Length / 9 Hands
Combine: 4.42 40-yard / 38” Vertical / 119” Broad Jump / 10 Reps Weight Bench
Safety Matt Elam doesn’t turn 23 until September and could be a fixture in the secondary for years to come. However, the Ravens could use a long term solution opposite of Elam, who played free safety a season ago. When the Ravens add a safety, it’s believed Elam will move slide to strong safety, where he is more comfortable. Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County times posed the question to Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, “When it comes to the safety position, what do you think of the safety class, and do you think it’s a position where there are enough free safeties to go around?”
Hortiz responded, “Some of those guys, like [Calvin] Pryor, they play both [both safety spots]. Deone Bucannon [is as well]. You’ll see them both down low in the box and on the back end. Ha Ha [Clinton-Dix] is more of a traditional free safety the way they use him. But again, the safety position has become interchangeable, and we do a lot of that here as well. So, if you look at the safety position overall, you look for versatility from guys who are good tacklers, sound tacklers – not hard hitters, but guys that get them down in space – who have some coverage skill and just general instincts and football knowledge on the back end. I’d say as a whole, the class is pretty solid. You’ll get some guys at the end of the first and second round – and then there will be some guys who come off in the third, fourth and fifth – who will help teams.”
Terrence Brooks fits the mold of Hortiz’s description. Brooks is a 2013 Second-team All-ACC selection. In addition, he played and started in 13 games, missing one game due to concussion. Brooks’ lack of dominating statistics led to his being overshadowed at times but NFL scouts are intrigued with the former cornerback’s agility, range and willingness to be physical in run support. Voted to the First Team All-ACC unit by coaches (but only second-team by the media), Brooks’ toughness and versatility could lead to a second-day selection in the draft despite few outside of Tallahassee realizing his importance to the Seminoles’ undefeated season.
Scout’s Take: CBS Sports Rob Rang: While a touch shorter than scouts would prefer, Brooks looks the part of an NFL free safety, boasting broad shoulders, a well-built frame and trim waist. He possesses good balance, agility and straight-line speed, including an impressive burst to close. A former cornerback who is asked to drop down and cover slot receivers, on occasion, demonstrating good balance, fluidity and change of direction for coverage. Brooks is more physical than you might expect given his cornerback background, often dropping down into a linebacker-like role for the Seminoles, which the Ravens will love in a defense that requires versatility and physicality. Long arms and good balance to play off blocks and make plays near the line
Final Word: Jamison Hensley, ESPN: Brooks is a quality fallback option if Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward is gone before the Ravens draft in the second round. The Ravens are looking for a rangy free safety, and Brooks certainly fills that role. There’s very little risk with Brooks. Even if he isn’t ready to start right away, he will be a core special teams player.
Other Options: CB Vic Hampton, TE CJ Fiedorowicz, WR Allen Robinson
Round 2 Pick 48: Carlos Hyde, RB Ohio State
Vitals: 5’11” 230 Lbs. / 32” Arm Length / 9 5/8” Hands
Combine: 40 yds. 4.66 / Bench Press 19 / Broad Jump 114” /
GM Ozzie Newsome said the uncertainty surrounding running back Ray Rice‘s future won’t affect the team’s draft plans. Rice was arrested and charged on Feb. 15 after a physical altercation with his now-wife, Janay Palmer, at the Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. On Thursday, Rice learned that he will not go to jail after pleading not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault. He will be approved either for a pretrial intervention program or accept the prosecutor’s plea agreement of probation without jail time. He will not escape the court of Goodell, Roger Goodell that is, the NFL Commissioner. Rice is likely facing at least a four game suspension. Newsome indicated that the Ravens were talking about adding one or two running backs even before Rice’s incident. Rice is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-worst 3.1 yards per carry, and backup Bernard Pierce has dealt with injuries the past seasons.
I have a feeling this is where the Ravens surprise a few people and look for the future in the Ravens backfield. Head Coach John Harbaugh was not bashful about his disappointment in the Ravens running game last season when asked about it at the NFL Combine. “I think the whole thing just needs an overhaul,” Harbaugh said at the NFL scouting combine. Combine that with Newsome wanting possibly 2 backs—-enter Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde.
Hyde, the Big Ten Running Back of the Year and first-team All-Big 10 pick finished the season with 100-plus rushing yards in nine consecutive games. He finished with 1,508 rushing yards and 15 TD’s—this, after being suspended for the first three games for being a “person of interest” in an assault investigation. NFL.com says, Hyde has outstanding size, explosive power and run strength — can be his own blocker and create his own holes. Punishes linebackers running downhill and usually falls forward. Superb contact balance and finishing strength — does not go down easily and can barrel through arm tackles. Extremely powerful short-yardage/goal-line runner, which the Ravens could use. Remember the Green Bay game? He gets better as the game progresses, wearing down defensive fronts. Took over the game in the fourth quarter vs. Northwestern (2013) and willed team to victory. He is surprisingly quick in short spaces and can plant hard and go. Is solid in pass protection and can stonewall blitzers in their tracks. Good awareness and anticipation to react to stunts and adjust to movement. Soft hands-catcher.
Hyde is a perfect fit for Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme. He has patience to wait for creases and doesn’t hesitate when they open up. But Hyde’s off-the-field issue could scare off the Ravens after what has happened with Rice this off-season.
Scouts Take: Stephen Shoup, Fanspeak.com: Hyde has the ability to be a workhorse back. He should interest teams looking for a power back capable of 20-25 carries a game, with a lot of his work done between the tackles in a power scheme. In other systems, Hyde likely won’t be as valuable. Hyde is probably the best short yardage back in the draft, giving him an advantage over a lot of his draft class. His ability to pick up key first downs and put the ball in the end zone, is highly valuable given the impact those types of plays have on an offense. Hyde should be selected somewhere in the 2nd round and could end up being the top running back in the draft. Teams will be interested in his character and work ethic, but as long as those questions get answered, he isn’t likely to see a draft day slide.
Final Word: John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens HC: On poor rushing attack last season, “It was a myriad of things. We didn’t block people well. We didn’t move people. We didn’t get on people. … Our backs both weren’t 100 percent and they didn’t make enough guys miss, didn’t break enough tackles. So the yards weren’t there. We also didn’t throw well enough to get people out of single-high, press man [coverage]. We were always pretty much regularly going up against a heavy box, so that compounded a problem. We were probably a throw to set up the run offense the last 11, 12 games and we didn’t throw the ball well enough to set up the run. We just didn’t get the job done.”
Round 1 Pick 17: Zack Martin, T / G Notre Dame:
Vitals: 6’4” 308 lbs. / 32 7/8 arm length / 9.5” hands
Combine: 40-yard 5.20 / Bench Press 23 (250 lbs.) /
I’m starting to buy into the theory that the Ravens may go with one of the safeties here but just as Kevin Costner did in the movie Draft Day, I’m sticking with my original thought process and going with my original pick form the start and that pick has always been Notre Dames versatile OT, Zack Martin. It is no secret former Houston Texans HC & new Ravens Offensive Coordinator, Gary Kubiak, loves the zone-blocking scheme, and it’s no secret that the Ravens tried and failed last season to execute a version of their own. The hiring of Kubiak certainly does not suggest the Ravens will return to the man-on-man schemes of yesterday but instead will stick with the scheme that gave them fits. Some feel Martin would be a great fit in Kubiak’s Martin and others do not. I feel his versatility is a major plus the Ravens are craving on a line that was terrible last season.
Martin had a very good pro day after a solid Senior Bowl and only possibly former Michigan T, Taylor Lewan, falling here to the Ravens should they consider anyone else. The Ravens have to do a better job of protecting Joe Flacco, who was sacked a career high 48 times last season. Martin is pro ready now at guard or tackle and if his squarish or box frame doesn’t work on the outside, then as Ozzie Newsome suggested during the luncheon, Kelechi Osemele or the not so ready Ricky Wagner could play there. What Martin gives the Ravens is options. Martin is reminiscent of Marshal Yanda when the current Raven was coming out of college, possessing the ability to play any of the five spots along the offensive line.
Scouts Take: Rob Rang, CBS Sports, The vast majority of Martin’s school record 52 career starts came at left tackle but his square-ish frame and 32 1/4-inch arms will earn him a projection inside to guard for many. Regardless of where he lines up, Martin plays with the controlled aggression I love along the offensive line, latching on and dictating the action.
Final Word: Jamison Hensley, ESPN: Martin compares favorably to Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda. Using that measuring stick, the Ravens probably like his no-nonsense demeanor but could also question his ability to play right tackle, which is the biggest hole on the Ravens’ line. For that reason, it’s not a slam dunk that the Ravens take Martin at No. 17. I struggle with my estimation of the team’s interest in him because he does “Play like a Raven.” There is also no guarantee Martin is there when the Ravens are on the clock. The New York Giants (No. 12), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 15), and Dallas Cowboys (No. 16) have been linked to him.
Other Options: OT Taylor Lewan if he falls, or one of the safeties such as Ha Ha Clinton Dix or Calvin Pryor
Pleas feel free to comment and be sure to join me tonight for THE NFL FRIDAY FRENZY, where we are talking NFL Draft all night. Showtime is 9:00 p.m. on the Fanspeak Radio Network. Ravens quotes courtesy of the Ravens 2014 NFL Draft Guide.