1. First round, 32nd overall: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Out with the old and in with the new for the Baltimore Ravens. When you look at the incredible amount of turnover that happened on their defense this past year, it’s tough to find a harder guy to replace around the league than future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who bolted for the Houston Texans. But, that’s the task ahead for young Matt Elam, whom I viewed as one of the best overall safeties in this class. He’s not the tallest, but he has great bulk and speed, and hits like a ton of bricks. Elam also has good ball skills, and played on a dominant Florida defense in college. I think this guy will step in and start right away with Mike Huff, and I think he will play at a high level. It wouldn’t have shocked me to see him go in the first 20 picks, so getting him here at 32 is also good value. Great pick for the Ravens to cap off round one.
2. Second round, 56th overall: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
This was a huge steal for the Ravens. They had to trade up a few spots to get him, but it will be well worth it. Baltimore needs to replace Ray Lewis at inside linebacker, and Brown is the type of guy who can do just that. In fact, there were some scouts who compared Brown to Lewis coming out of Kansas State. The former Miami transfer is a complete linebacker prospect with size, speed, and instincts, and I think he could be a starter for the Ravens for a really long time. This is a typical Ozzie Newsome pick, getting a guy who people ranked very highly way later than you anticipate. I love this pick for the Ravens and I think this is a plug-and-play starter for them for a while. Brown was ranked in the top 20 of my final Big Board.
3. Third round, 94th overall: Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State
This pick wasn’t shocking in terms of the value of small-school star Brandon Williams, who has been firmly entrenched in the third round range for months now. I think the Ravens aren’t overly satisfied with what they have gotten from Terrance Cody, and they wanted someone to push him for his job. Williams is a guy who will come in with a chip on his shoulder, and I love his overall size for the nose tackle position. He’s not very tall for a DT, which gives him better leverage, and he has incredible upper body strength throwing up 38 reps on the bench press. He is going to need some seasoning, but this could be a great risk/reward pick for the Ravens.
4. Fourth round, 129th overall: John Simon, DE/OLB, Ohio State
There are few players I’ve ever scouted who work as hard as John Simon. When you watch him on the field, that hard work translates and he is relentless on pretty much every play. With the Ravens, I think Simon will stand up and play some rush linebacker, and I think he can excel in that area. This is a guy who offers some pass rush ability and can make a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. I love his potential in this defensive rotation, and I think he can also become a key player on special teams. This is a good guy to have in your locker room.
5. Fourth round, 130th overall: Kyle Juszczyk, FB/HB, Harvard
Juszczyk likely is the heir apparent to Vonta Leach as the Ravens’ fullback, but I don’t think he will be stuck on the bench until Leach wears down. He has excellent versatility and can contribute on special teams as well. This is a big, strong, tough, smart athlete who kind of reminds me of a Brian Leonard type of player, though he’s not quite as good of a runner. I love his potential as an H-back in the NFL and the Ravens likely bypassed some other needs to get the player they probably viewed as the best at his position in this draft.
6. Fifth round, 168th overall: Ricky Wagner, OL, Wisconsin
Wagner comes into the NFL really well-coached out of Wisconsin. Bret Bielema’s offensive linemen are going to come into the league very well-versed in different positions, and very prepared for the rigors of an NFL running game. I think Wagner offers the Ravens depth at either tackle position or even guard, potentially.
7. Sixth round, 200th overall: Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL, Notre Dame
This is a guy who was likely off some teams’ boards after his knee injury in the national title game against Alabama, but I think the Ravens made a good move here. He can essentially redshirt for his rookie season, and give them some good depth coming into his second NFL season. He just had surgery three months ago, so it’ll be a huge bonus if he is able to give them anything this year.
8. Sixth round, 203rd overall: Ryan Jansen, OT, Colorado State-Pueblo
There were a ton of teams looking at this kid, and the Ravens pounced on him here in the sixth round. He can give them depth at tackle or guard, and gives them one of the top sleeper offensive linemen in the draft. I love his nasty streak, strength, and athleticism. Great pickup in the sixth round.
9. Seventh round, 238th overall: Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
I thought Mellette was impressive enough at Elon and good enough at the Combine to earn himself a fourth round draft slot, but the Ravens got themselves a steal in the seventh round with one of our favorite small-school receivers. He has the size/speed combination that you look for in a receiver and his production is no fluke. I think this is highway robbery for the Ravens in the 7th round.
10. Seventh round, 247th overall: Marc Anthony, CB, California
Anthony has an uphill climb to make the Ravens’ roster as a rookie given their depth at cornerback, and he didn’t test well at the Combine. That being said, I think Anthony will get a spot on the Ravens’ practice squad or develop into a solid practice squad player for them. He was really productive at Cal.
I love what the Ravens did in this draft, especially with their first two picks. Elam and Brown were two of the best players at their respective positions in this class, and I love some of the later upside picks. This draft will need to be a foundation for the future.