1. C.J. Mosley, ILB Alabama
2. Timmy Jernigan, DT Florida State
3. Terrance Brooks, FS Florida State
3. Crockett Gillmore, TE Colorado State
4. Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB Coastal Carolina
4. Brent Urban, DT Virginia
5. John Urschel, G Penn State
6. Keith Wenning, QB Ball State
7. Michael Campanaro, WR Wake Forest
The Baltimore Ravens went 8-8 after losing so many players to free agency and retirement after the Super Bowl as well as a major injury to Dennis Pitta. With the help of a generous helping of compensatory picks, Ozzie Newsome went back to work to improve the roster with talent as opposed to needs, which is largely the way he has always chosen to go.
With their first pick, Newsome killed a few birds with one stone. He arguably picked the top player on the board in C.J. Mosley while also hitting his quota of players he picks from his alma mater for the year. The Alabama linebacker gives the Ravens an interesting dynamic.
The Ravens drafted Arthur Brown last year in the third round and got an extremely productive year from the now 32 year old Daryl Smith. They now have a talented trio of backers for this year with depth, so likely Smith and whoever is better between Brown and Smith will play next to him. In the long run, the Ravens have to expect Brown and Mosley in the middle of their defense.
Mosley has a tremendous combination of instincts and ability. Along with Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, these two seemed to make the vast majority of plays for the Tide defense. Mosley is an effective run defender that has great instincts in zone coverage as well. The question with Mosley as with every Bama player is injuries and durability. Mosley had a shoulder issue at Alabama and there was some mild concern as he went through the draft process, because the overwhelming trend is that players from Tuscaloosa came into the NFL with broken pieces.
In the second round, the Ravens selected Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan played the nose guard spot at Florida State and showcased talent, but was an unfinished product. He also happened to fail the idiot test at the scouting combine, failing the drug test.
On the field, Jernigan is explosive and can be extremely powerful at the point of attack. He can be an incredibly disruptive player, but his motor and stamina are issues that came up throughout the year, but most notably in the National Championship. Jernigan also is too predictable with his stances and makes life more difficult for himself as a result. On the other hand, Jernigan was a nose guard that could offer the ability to rush the passer.
For the Ravens, he appears to be slated to play the defensive tackle spot to the right of Haloti Ngata. Jernigan would give them a player that could stop the run, but give them more athleticism to potentially rush the passer from that spot. It would also allow them to be the enormous Brandon Williams around depending on the situation.
In the third round, the Ravens opted to grab Jernigan’s teammate, Terrance Brooks. This looks like a terrific value and could be a big pick for the Ravens. Free safety has been an issue for the Ravens and Brooks can come in and play that, allowing last year’s first round pick, Matt Elam, to move to strong safety. The move could end up upgrading two spots in one move.
While Brooks was the less heralded of the two safeties at Florida State, I think he was the much better of the two. He is an impressive athlete that can help in coverage with a good amount of range as well as help against the run. Brooks was still coming into his own in Tallahassee, but the momentum is going the right way and he might be just about to hit his stride as he goes to the NFL. This could be a little clunky to start with, but Brooks could have a big impact in his rookie year and only get better with time.
With the first of their compensatory, the Ravens went to the offensive side of the ball and took Crockett Gillmore. Gillmore is sort of a project but depending on how they want to use him, he could do a few different ways.
Despite his size, he has lean legs and appears capable of bulking up into a 270lb inline player that can block and help as a receiver. Along with Pitta, they could have a lot of size and strength in the middle of the field that could help the Ravens run the football. The Ravens could also embrace his sleeker build and use him in space.
Gillmore has decent speed when able to work in a straight line and his natural length makes it tough to defend him in pass coverage. Regardless of how they want to use him, he needs to improve his footwork as a receiver and improve his base strength as a blocker. With Owen Daniels still in Baltimore, Gillmore can really work in relative anonymity as a rookie and become the player they would like him to be for his second year, but it would not be a surprise if he found ways to contribute as a rookie. Nevertheless, Gillmore’s long term potential is more intriguing than what he could as an immediate impact player.
In the fourth round, the Ravens selected Brent Urban. Urban is interesting because he is the best pure 5-technique defensive end when it comes to playing the run. He has a tremendous combination of size and length for the job and does a fantastic job of using his arms to keep opponents out of his body, allowing him to dictate the action and get to the play or create opportunities for the defense.
The issue for Urban is that he has been a complete nonfactor as a pass rusher thus far in his career. He does not do well when it comes to attacking and disengaging to get through and put pressure on the quarterback. He could come in and play immediately to help a team stop the run, but unless he improves dramatically as a pass rusher, he is a liability when the opponent passes. Considering the number of defensive linemen the Ravens have, they look at Urban as more of a developmental player.
Later in the round, the Ravens added a running back in Lorenzo Taliaferro and I love this pick. Taliaferro only had one season of production at Coastal Carolina, but he was great in that year. He gives them a bigger back, but Taliaferro is a big back with every down utility.
Taliferro has incredibly fluid hips and is a natural receiving threat out of the backfield. He can contort his body easily to make plays and is terrific with his hands. He has the quickness and enough speed to make plays when he gets the ball out in space as well.
Taliaferro is also arguably the best pass blocking running back in the class. He was good on tape, but he was outstanding at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, putting on a clinic much of the week. Taliaferro made it look easy and sent a message to opponents in the process. He is a player that is coming into the league with little fanfare but he could be a big time contributor as a rookie and not just as insurance for a possible suspension for Ray Rice.
In round 5, the Ravens added a talented guard in Jon Urschel. Much of the attention Urschel has received in his career is because of his outstanding academic career in mathematics, but he is also a talented football player. He will compete for the ability to backup Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele, the Ravens impressive set of guards.
The Ravens added a developmental quarterback in Keith Wenning from Ball State. The combination of Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor have been entrenched for a few years as the top two quarterbacks, so Wenning gives them a third string guy they can develop and perhaps use as trade bait down the road or keep for themselves.
The Ravens finished up the draft by trading their sixth round pick in 2015 to get the seventh round pick from the Cleveland Browns to pick Michael Campanaro. It is frankly stunning that Campanaro was on the board this long and this pick could be a huge steal for the Ravens. Campanaro is the prototypical slot receiver and since the Ravens do not really have someone like Campanaro, he has a chance to come in and be the guy at that position.
Campanaro was a volume pass catcher at Wake Forest and got touches like a running back. He has become a terrific route runner and is able to get open and catch the ball just about at will. Flacco and Campanaro could become good friends and give them another reliable option to move the chains and extend drives along with Pitta.
The Ravens and Newsome had a pretty typical Ravens draft. They took a lot of picks on value, an Alabama player, and took a few risks on players they would like to develop. The Ravens were a team with a good amount of talent, so what makes this draft dangerous for the rest of their division is the fact that the Ravens may have added five or six players that could contribute this year. If that can indeed happen and it is not a result of catastrophic injury, they may be able to bounce back and make the playoffs again. The Brooks, Taliaferro and Campanaro picks especially could be players that were obtained later in the draft that could come in and make huge contributions right off the bat.