OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Contained in the Baltimore Ravens draft room, Ozzie Newsome’s last draft as common supervisor ended with tears, emotional hugs, a standing ovation and a daring assertion from coach John Harbaugh.
“I told Ozzie just as we finished this thing up I feel like this is his best draft since I’ve been here — heck, maybe the best ever,” Harbaugh mentioned.
Newsome owned this draft, the 23rd of his illustrious profession. Every transfer felt calculated. Every choose got here with a function.
Whereas at instances it felt like Newsome was by no means going to choose a participant, his repeated trades again nonetheless landed focused gamers and stuffed wants. Newsome’s maneuver on the finish of the primary spherical was one of many shrewdest selections of the draft and maybe the very best-orchestrated plan of his profession.
After three days and 12 draft picks, Newsome addressed the staff’s greatest void not as soon as, however twice, with go-catching tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, chosen a one-time high proper deal with prospect in Orlando Brown Jr. and landed the franchise’s quarterback of the longer term with Lamar Jackson.
“I really, really feel very good about this class and how it came to be,” Newsome mentioned. “[I can say] that the Baltimore Ravens — there is no doubt in my mind –- are a better football team and will give us an opportunity to get to not only where we want to go to, but all of our fans and everybody that wears that purple. Let’s get into the playoffs and hopefully get to another Super Bowl.”
Newsome’s popularity for being one of many NFL’s all-time finest choice-makers started in his first draft, when he chosen two Corridor of Fame gamers (Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis) within the first spherical. His last draft appropriately included two first-rounders and as soon as once more showcased his experience at working the draft.
Beginning off with the No. 16 general choose, the Ravens moved again to No. 22, selecting up a 3rd-spherical choose that was later used for Andrews. Baltimore then fell to No. 25, including what can be a vital fourth-rounder and permitting the Tennessee Titans to maneuver up for Alabama inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (a reported goal of the rival Pittsburgh Steelers).
Regardless of shifting again twice, the Ravens have been capable of take Hurst, the highest tight finish on their draft board. What got here subsequent may affect the franchise for years to come back.
Newome surprisingly traded again into the primary spherical for Jackson. All of the Ravens had to surrender to leap 20 spots for the previous Heisman Trophy winner was a 2019 second-spherical choose and the fourth-rounder they acquired in certainly one of their trades within the first spherical. It was essential for Baltimore to get Jackson within the first spherical due to the fifth-12 months choice (which second-rounders do not get), which suggests the Ravens will not should rush Jackson into the beginning function.
There can be some second-guessing. Baltimore handed on security Derwin James at No. 16 and selected to not take broad receiver D.J. Moore at No. 22. The Ravens, although, have been executing a protracted thought-out plot within the first spherical.
“I’m going to make use of a phrase that John [Harbaugh] makes use of on a regular basis: It was ‘masterful’ – the best way it occurred within the draft room [in the first round],” Newsome mentioned. “The trades came to us, and we were able to acquire some picks in the third and fourth round, then having the ability to go back up and get the quarterback at the end of the round — it was unbelievable.”
Newsome understands what it means to be masterful. He constructed two Tremendous Bowl champion groups and chosen 16 gamers who would grow to be Professional Bowl gamers in his first 13 drafts.
However Newsome, who will stay with the group after giving the GM function to assistant Eric DeCosta, acknowledged his latest drafts have not been as much as the staff’s requirements. Previously 9 years, solely two draft picks (linebacker C.J. Mosley and fullback Kyle Juszczyk) have grow to be Professional Bowl gamers for Baltimore.
This wasn’t a state of affairs the place Newsome was attempting to vindicate himself within the last draft. His lack of an ego has all the time been seen as the important thing to his success.
Those that have labored with Newsome imagine it was vital for him to go away the franchise set as much as win this 12 months and sooner or later. This draft has Newsome’s private fingerprints throughout it.
The Corridor of Fame tight finish used two of his first 4 picks on that place. The Ravens turned the primary staff to draft two tight ends within the first three rounds because the 2012 Colts.
Newsome continued to mine his alma mater by taking two Alabama gamers in Brown and cornerback Anthony Averett. He has now chosen 10 Alabama gamers, essentially the most Crimson Tide choices for any staff since 1997.
And Newsome made certainly one of his most heartfelt picks in drafting Brown within the third spherical. There was a longtime connection between Newsome and Brown’s father, nicknamed “Zeus,” who began 80 video games for the Ravens. Now, Newsome drafts Brown’s son, who can play for a similar staff and on the identical proper deal with place as his father.
The entire Ravens’ first three picks — Hurst, Jackson and Brown — had been linked to Baltimore in mock drafts at No. 16. Newsome obtained all of them a lot later than that.
“The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team after the past three days,” Newsome mentioned. “But ask me two years from now, because now we have to get them in, we have to work with them, we have to develop them, and then two years from now we’ll be able to determine what job we did this weekend.”
It’ll take time earlier than the ultimate evaluation of Newsome’s final draft class may be made. However, for many who watched Newsome transfer up and down with each commerce to get his desired gamers, it was pure wizardry.