OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens wanted to establish themselves as the biggest, baddest team in the AFC North with the recent NFL draft.
GM Eric DeCosta picked up some hard-nosed players that are going to physically establish their presence on the field.
The Ravens selected Odafe Oweh with the 31st overall pick to help set the edge on the defense. While Oweh, didn’t have huge sack numbers at Penn State — seven over three seasons — he’ll make an impact in other areas.
Oweh is 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, and ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash in his Pro Day (picture getting hit by a Volkswagen when he makes a tackle). He also had a 39.5 vertical leap, along with a 134-inch broad jump.
In short, he has the size and speed to dominate most opponents.
"That’s something we talked about, but we also watched the tape," DeCosta said about the sack numbers. "Then you look at his athletic ability, and just for that very fact, we feel like he’s a great fit in our defense. He’s an aggressive player. He runs to the ball very fast. He’s in the backfield constantly. He’s knocking people back into the backfield. He’s beating tackles into the backfield. He runs things down from behind.
Oweh is confident in his ability to impact a game. He dismissed the criticism about his sack numbers and knew the stats would not negatively impact his status in the draft.
"I knew that people that really understood and watched football, understand what I was doing out there and that sacks weren’t where it ended with me," Oweh said. "I was very disruptive; I caused a lot of havoc; I was very stout in the run game; I was beating my man; I was always there. So, people really understood that the zero sacks thing, that had no definition of who I was as a player.”
The Ravens selected Ben Cleveland with the 94th overall pick and he’ll compete for a starting job at left guard. Cleveland is a massive 6-foot-6, 357 pounds, is nicknamed Big Country and has eaten squirrel.
He’ll be looking to maul his matchups.
“What I can tell you is at the start of the day, if you had told us that we would’ve gotten Ben Cleveland, we would’ve turned it in right then and there,” DeCosta said.
A sleeper in this draft us tight end fullback Ben Mason, who was the Ravens last selection with the 184th overall pick. At is 6-foot-2, 246 pounds, he doesn't just take pride with his blocking, he likes to steamroll opponents.
The Ravens will find a way to get him onto the field, just like Pat Ricard, who has evolved into a two-time Pro Bowler.
“Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve really just enjoyed the process of arriving at contact, going from Point A to Point B,” Mason said. “I love everything about it – just arriving, meeting them with your hands and driving your feet on contact. My mental process is, ‘I’m the baddest dude on the field at all times,’ and I’m going to play like that and think like that. So, that’s really what I think, and when I see defenders in the hole, I want to make them feel my physical presence.”