Given the months and months of build-up to the annual NFL draft, the rush to summarize a team’s rookie draft class in a few sentences and stamp a letter grade on it has never quite made much sense to me.
In the past, I’ve compared this process to patrons at a restaurant complimenting (or complaining to) the chef based on the menu, rather than waiting to actually taste the food.
In much this same way, it obviously takes time to properly evaluate a draft. Given all of the complexities of the 2020 NFL draft, specifically, this is especially true.
So, while we cannot skip years ahead to know for certain which players will ultimately exceed or fail to live up to expectations in the NFL, we can provide a much deeper dive into each team’s rookie class.
Therefore, in a 32-part series, NFLDraftScout.com will be providing a detailed breakdown of each of the NFL teams’ rookie hauls, following the original draft order. Each team will be evaluated on the quality, quantity and relative safety of their draft classes (including undrafted free agents), with specific players recognized as Best Player, Best Value and Best Project, culminating in one “final” grade.
Today’s team: Baltimore Ravens
Head Coach: John Harbaugh
General Manager: Eric DeCosta
Players selected in 2020:
Round 1, Pick 28 overall: LB Patrick Queen, LSU
Round 2, Pick 55 overall: RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick 71 overall: DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
Round 3, Pick 92 overall: WR Devin Duvernay, Texas
Round 3, Pick 98 overall: LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick 106 overall: OL Tyre Phillips, Mississippi State
Round 4, Pick 143 overall: OG Ben Bredeson, Michigan
Round 5, Pick 170 overall: DT Broderick Washington, Texas Tech
Round 6, Pick 201 overall: WR James Proche, SMU
Round 7, Pick 219 overall: S Geno Stone, Iowa
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
QB Tyler Huntley, Utah
TE Jacob Breeland, Oregon
OG Daishawn Dixon, San Diego State
C Trystan Colon-Castillo, Missouri
S Nigel Warrior, Tennessee
Overview of the Ravens’ 2020 draft:
Eric DeCosta officially took over as the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens more than a year and a half ago but thus far, he is showing the same value-based, hole-filling brilliance which helped his predecessor and mentor, Ozzie Newsome, win two Super Bowls during their time together. With all due respect to the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, given the talent already on the roster and the picture-perfect draft class DeCosta and Co. corralled this spring, Baltimore should be the favorite to represent the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl. A few days ago, I broke down the Minnesota Vikings’ 2020 draft class and couldn’t help but wonder how many other general managers were envious with the league-high 15 draft picks Rick Spielman had to fill holes in his clubs’ roster. I wonder if many of those same general managers wouldn’t have gladly switched spots with DeCosta, whose 10-man draft class included six selections within the first 106 picks of the draft. The talent and value the Ravens acquired in the third round, alone, is better than what some clubs found in their entire 2020 drafts. The Ravens’ filled their biggest positional need with ascending LSU linebacker Patrick Queen in the first round and solidified their backfield with the hard-running J.K. Dobbins in the second round, a perfect complement to incumbent starter Mark Ingram in terms of temperament and running style. Justin Madubuike may not be the cleanest schematic fit in Baltimore’s beloved 3-4 base scheme but he’s quick, powerful and long (33 ½” arms) and was a ridiculous value to kickoff the Ravens’ rich third round. Receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche were two of my favorite of the so-called second tier options in this year’s remarkable receiver class, whose fits and styles pair nicely with last year’s speedy vertical threat, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Proche, the 201 player selected this year, may just have the strongest hands in this draft, starring at the Senior Bowl after ranking among national leaders in every important receiving category. Proche earned a spot on my annual Rang’s Gang team, which highlights my favorite “non-first round” prospects in this draft, as did former Michigan star guard Ben Bredeson, who was such a steal at No. 143 overall, he may get DeCosta arrested for robbery. With one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, it goes without saying that some of the Ravens’ 2020 draft class will not make the club. Those who do not stick in Baltimore will almost certainly have plenty of options elsewhere. Combining draft picks and the rookie UDFAs, Baltimore’s 2020 draft class is the richest in the NFL, earning the only A+ grade I’ll give this year.
Best Player of the Ravens’ 2020 Draft: LB Patrick Queen
Heisman Trophy-winner and No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow rightly received plenty of kudos for his breakout performance for the national champion LSU Tigers but a similar performance was turned in by the Tigers’ quarterback on defense, Queen, a year ago. It really is a testament to Queen (and LSU’s recruiting) that the Tigers saw very little drop-off a year ago with the speedy young linebacker taking over for Devin White, the fifth overall selection to Tampa Bay in 2019 and the Butkus Award winner. One of the biggest knocks on Queen, in fact, is that he’s only played at a high level for essentially a year and a half, while waiting his turn with the Tigers. Just like how it didn’t take Lamar Jackson long to leave his critics (and would-be tacklers) in the dust, Queen’s ascent to NFL royalty should happen quickly, especially given talent he will be surrounded with in Baltimore. For those looking to nitpick, Queen is not currently as polished in fending off blockers, relying on his awareness, agility and straight-line speed to beat blockers to the action, rather than trading punches with them on arrival. In this area, fellow rookie linebacker Malik Harrison is further along. Better hand play and strength will come with time for Queen. His speed to the flanks makes Baltimore’s defense scarier immediately, while also providing more of a challenge for Jackson in practice to keep the reigning MVP hungry and honing his game, as well.
Best Value of the Ravens’ 2020 Draft: OG Ben Bredeson
It would be ludicrous to suggest that any rookie could come in fill the shoes of retiring legend Marshall Yanda but I believe that Bredeson is a future Pro Bowler, himself. I ranked him 55 overall on my personal Big Board and as the top “pure” guard (not a tackle conversion) in this class. The New Orleans Saints thought enough of the center playing to Bredeson’s right at Michigan, Cesar Ruiz, to select him in the first round but the tape is clear – Bredeson is currently the more polished and consistent player. The single “biggest” reason for his slipping to the fourth round was his short, stubby arms (31 1/8”), which caused some scouts, apparently, to panic. Four years of dominating tape should not be forgotten because a player’s arms measure a golf ball length shorter than another’s. It is easy to fall into all of the storylines with Bredeson going from one Harbaugh brother to another in the transition from Michigan to Baltimore. What I like most about the fit is Bredeson’s talent and the fact that both Harbaugh’s believe their blockers should be highly physical, highly durable road-grading types.
Best Project of the Ravens’ 2020 Draft: WR Devin Duvernay
One of the things I like most about Baltimore’s draft is the relative lack of projects. It goes without saying that every college prospect has room to develop when jumping to the NFL but with the exception of top pick, Queen, each of Baltimore’s draft picks (and many of their stellar UDFA class) are joining the pro ranks with multiple years of starting experience. Further, many of them excelled in pro-style schemes, suggesting fairly immediate impacts are possible. Duvernay, a former top recruit and track star, has been starting games for the Longhorns since his true freshman campaign but did not fully break out until this past season when he jumped from 41 catches for 546 yards and three scores as a junior to 106 grabs for 1,386 yards and nine scores, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors and a trip to the Senior Bowl (one of six Ravens’ draft picks to compete there). As expected, Duvernay proved one of the most explosive athletes in Mobile and at the Combine a month later, clocking in at 4.39 seconds despite a rock-solid 5-11, 200 pound frame that suggests more running back than receiver. It is Duvernay’s frame and game which I find particularly intriguing for the Ravens, as he can be that short-area weapon on quick drags, arrow routes and jet-sweeps to complement the speed Baltimore already employs on the perimeter and down the seam with tight end Mark Andrews.
Overall Grade for the Ravens’ 2020 Draft: A+
Previous 2020 NFL Draft Report Cards: Cincinnati Bengals |Washington Redskins | Detroit Lions | New York Giants | Miami Dolphins | Los Angeles Chargers | Carolina Panthers | Arizona Cardinals | Jacksonville Jaguars | Cleveland Browns | New York Jets | Las Vegas Raiders | Indianapolis Colts | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Denver Broncos | Atlanta Falcons | Dallas Cowboys | Pittsburgh Steelers | Chicago Bears | Los Angeles Rams | Philadelphia Eagles | Buffalo Bills | New England Patriots | New Orleans Saints | Houston Texans | Minnesota Vikings | Seattle Seahawks | Baltimore Ravens | Green Bay Packers | Tennessee Titans | San Francisco 49ers | Kansas City Chiefs