Ravens wrap up big week with 6-player draft class
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — After the Ravens finally reached a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson, the rest of Baltimore's week felt almost anticlimactic.
The team had only six picks in this year's NFL draft. Baltimore took a wide receiver and a cornerback, and that was pretty much what was expected, but no matter how the draft went, these last few days would have been a victory for the Ravens after they finally secured some certainty with their star quarterback.
“I think we would all say we're pretty tired, but it's a good tired,” general manager Eric DeCosta said Saturday. “There's a bad tired and a good tired. This is a good tired. I think we'll sleep well tomorrow and we'll enjoy tomorrow with our families, all the coaches and the scouts.”
The mood in the Baltimore area was upbeat even before the draft began because of Jackson's deal Thursday. Then the Ravens gave Jackson some more help by taking receiver Zay Flowers in the first round. They added linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third Friday.
On Saturday, Baltimore completed its draft class with linebacker Tavius Robinson of Mississippi (fourth round), cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly of Stanford (fifth), tackle Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu of Oregon (sixth) and guard Andrew Vorhees of Southern California (seventh).
Vorhees was taken after it appeared Baltimore's draft was over. DeCosta had already finished his news conference when the Ravens traded into the seventh round, sending Cleveland a sixth-round pick next year.
The Ravens went into the draft with clear needs at receiver and cornerback. With only one pick in the first two rounds, it was going to be tough to find an immediate impact player for both spots, and Baltimore might still look to free agency for more help in the secondary.
“The roster’s never set," DeCosta said. "There’s a lot of potential moves for us to make. Free agents, guys that we’ve had, guys that we like.”
The Ravens have a need at cornerback because Marcus Peters is a free agent, although he hasn’t signed with a new team. Baltimore did take two cornerbacks last year in the draft — when the Ravens had 11 picks — in Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams.
Kelly is the son of Brian Kelly, who played 11 years for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions.
“I was literally just telling him before this whole process even started that without him, I wouldn’t even be as close to the man I am or close to the football player I am today,” Kelly said. “Just having a father in my life, let alone an NFL father. That’s such a big thing. That’s such a blessing in this life.”
Vorhees, a first-team All-American last season, injured his right knee during offensive line drills at the combine. He still went ahead with the bench press the next day, lifting 225 pounds (100 kg) a combine-high 38 times.
“Andrew is a player who we've admired, and the opportunity to trade back in to get him was too appealing,” DeCosta said in a statement. “We are getting a tough and physical competitor who is polished and experienced. We have every expectation that he will be playing winning football for us in 2024, and this is a move that really solidified our line for the coming years.”
Even after adding that seventh-rounder, the Ravens still had their fewest picks since they also had six in 2009.
Robinson, a Canadian, was a two-year letter winner at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Then he went to Mississippi.
“When COVID happened, everything got shut down here. Football got canceled,” Robinson said. "At that point, I was sending out my tape everywhere, trying to get a school in the States. Then, Ole Miss was one of my first SEC offers, so that’s how I ended up at Ole Miss. Then, I had three years there, and now I’m here.”
Aumavae-Laulu started all 14 games at right tackle for Oregon last season and played a team-high 902 offensive snaps.
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Noah Trister, The Associated Press