OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Brandon Stephens is used to changing positions.
He began his collegiate career as a running back at UCLA. He transferred to SMU and transitioned into being a lockdown cornerback.
The Ravens drafted Stephens in the third round of this year's NFL draft and he could be playing another new position in the NFL.
"Right now, we probably would say that we like his potential as a safety," DeCosta said. "He’s primarily been a corner with some safety play this past year, but he really fits the profile of a free safety-type of player. The thing I like about him when I watch him is with his background as a running back, he really does like contact. He comes up, he’s physical. He’ll force the issue, and he can close the gap very quickly.”
Last season, Stephens started all 10 games at SMU, registering 43 tackles (36 solo), including one for loss. He also ad 10 pass breakups and one interception, along with one fumble recovery and one quarterback hit.
He gambled on himself to make the change from running back and that proved to be a wise decision.
“I’ve always had a love for defense and playing DB," Stephens said. "I played a little bit in high school, so that’s where my love for the position really started. I just really felt like it was just the better option for me. I felt that that’s where my head was at [and] that’s where my passion was. So, I just had to bet on myself and go with where my heart was at.
"There was a lot of doubters when I made the move. Some people didn’t understand why I was making the move, but I did. This just goes to prove what I saw and what my vision was going forward."
The Ravens need depth at safety behind Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott, who is eligible for free agency next year.
Stephen, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, can help boost the backend of the defense. The Ravens value his versatility.
"In Stephens, we got a guy that is a very versatile player," DeCosta said. "He’s a former running back at UCLA, transferred to SMU. He’s played some corner. He’s played some safety. [He has] a lot of upside potential. [He’s] a big guy. He runs very well. He’s very physical. [He] should contribute right away on special teams and he’s the kind of player that we look for."
Stephens is ready for a new challenge.
"I pride myself in playing multiple positions," he said. "I played corner, nickel and safety. So, wherever the team needs me to play, I’m willing to play.”