Ravens News 4/30: Splendid Timing

April 30, 2024

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens

NFL draft winners and losers: Ravens bolster their secondary, but what about help for Lamar Jackson?

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner


Lamar Jackson: The superstar quarterback won his second NFL Most Valuable Player award last season, and the 2024 team might have the best collection of skill talent he’s ever played with. Running back Derrick Henry and tight end Mark Andrews have combined for seven Pro Bowl appearances since 2019. Zay Flowers had the best season for a Ravens rookie wide receiver in franchise history. Ravens coaches speak glowingly about wideout Rashod Bateman’s potential. Walker might have the best deep speed of any Ravens target (4.36-second 40), and his big-play potential is obvious; he averaged 30.6 yards per catch on his 19 career receiving touchdowns.


Ball security: The Ravens largely took care of the ball in 2023, finishing 12th in the NFL in giveaways (19). But their two final offensive picks, Ali and quarterback Devin Leary, were turnover-prone last year. Ali had five fumbles, according to TruMedia, making the fifth-rounder an atypical target for DeCosta. His past five picks at the position — Tyler Badie, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen — combined for one fumble total in their final college season, according to PFF. Leary, meanwhile, had a Southeastern Conference-worst 12 interceptions at Kentucky last season. The sixth-round pick also led the league with 23 turnover-worthy plays, according to PFF; no one else had more than 15.

Five things we learned from the Ravens’ 2024 draft, including splendid timing with top two picks

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens were smart, lucky or both in the timing of their first two choices

Going into Thursday night’s first round, DeCosta thought the Ravens would come away with an offensive lineman or a cornerback at pick No. 30. If he didn’t like the values at either position, he would trade back. But he figured he could miss out on the first tier of tackles and still come up with a starter in round two or three. At cornerback, he’d have only the one chance to strike.

Sure enough, a feeding frenzy ensued for offensive players of all types, including tackles. The top cornerbacks waited through 10 picks, then another 10. The Ravens wouldn’t need to move an inch to have their choice of three players — Wiggins, Iowa’s Cooper DeJean and Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry — widely linked to them in mock drafts. They couldn’t say Wiggins’ name fast enough when the time came. The next four cornerbacks flew off the board in the first 11 picks of the second round.

“We feel fortunate,” DeCosta said. “We took Nate, and then we saw those corners go at the beginning [of Round 2] — all of the guys we liked get picked.”

The second round broke their way as well. Teams lined up to snatch wide receivers, then defensive tackles, then corners. The offensive tackles, prom kings on Day 1, found themselves relegated to the corner. DeCosta said he felt jumpy at one point, wondering if his preferred target, Rosengarten, really would fall to pick No. 62.

2024 NFL Draft team-by-team rankings: Best and worst classes, from 1 to 32

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

12. Baltimore Ravens

Favorite pick: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

In typical Ravens fashion, they waited and allowed a good player to fall into their laps late in Round 1. Although I have my concerns with his play strength and body type, Wiggins is a high-level athlete who has the cover skills to make a quick impact. Marlon Humphrey and Wiggins make for an impressive starting cornerback duo.

Day 3 pick who could surprise: T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

A player who went about 100 spots later than most expected, Tampa hurt himself during the pre-draft process by turning down the Senior Bowl and then running a 4.58 40 at his pro day. He doesn’t have ideal speed or twitch for man coverage, but his size and ball skills are traits worth developing on the outside.

T.J. Tampa May Be the Steal of the Draft

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

Flip on the tape, however, and Tampa looks the part of an early contributor and high-impact cornerback. He has great size at 6-foot-1, 194 pounds and uses it to advantage to dish out big hits and challenge the catch point against receivers.

As a full-time starter the past two seasons, Tampa registered 83 tackles, three interceptions, and 19 passes defensed.

“Definitely, physicality in all aspects of the game – if that’s point of contact, getting off of blocks, making tackles, being a willing tackler, just press, getting hands on, getting receivers [off] their routes,” Tampa said.

Biggest 2024 NFL post-draft questions for all 32 teams

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

Baltimore Ravens

Who’s starting at both guard spots for the Ravens?

Baltimore didn’t draft a guard despite losing both of its starters — Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson — in free agency and not signing any veterans to replace them. After the draft, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said backup Ben Cleveland, second-year lineman Andrew Vorhees and rookie Nick Samac all could be options to step up to fill those spots at left and right guard. “I think we have some viable guys to compete,” DeCosta said.

NFL Power Rankings: Who’s up/down after draft?

Eric Edholm. NFL.com

3. Baltimore Ravens

Draft picks: 9

It was a fairly Ravens-y draft, with few big surprises and plenty of solid value picks filling both immediate and longer-term needs. It would be fair to ask if Baltimore is done adding to the offensive line. Second-rounder Roger Rosengarten likely starts at right tackle right away. Center Nick Samac was the only other OL pick, putting the seventh-rounder in the mix to back up Tyler Linderbaum. Adding veteran help up front makes sense. But the Ravens bolstered the defense on all three days of the draft, with first-rounder Nate Wiggins and fourth-rounder T.J. Tampa joining the unit as two different styles of cornerback who can help combat the AFC North’s stud receivers. The Ravens are just good at the draft. Instead of panicking on the offensive line, they let the board kind of dictate how they proceeded. I think that’s the right way to do it most of the time. Baltimore isn’t going anywhere, folks.