The Ravens have high expectations for several of their draft picks as far as being ready to take over a starting role.
Baltimore likely found two of those players in the first and third rounds with linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. Both of those players will likely patrol the middle of the field in a 3-4 defense.
That would allow Matt Judon and Jaylon Ferguson to work as outside linebackers with Derek Wolfe, Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams anchoring the defensive line. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, a rookie third-round pick, will be part of that rotation.
That lineup could be the most formidable front seven in the NFL. Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said the battle for playing time among the rookies and veterans will strengthen the team.
"Competition makes us better," DeCosta said. "It breeds excellence. Iron sharpens iron. That's something that we've believed here for many years. It's true, and then [there is] the leadership those guys are going to get. We have some great leaders on defense in that room and on offense, as well. Those guys are going to come into great rooms."
The Ravens made one of the most surprising selections in the NFL Draft by selecting running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round. Baltimore didn't need a running back with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill already on the roster. But DeCosta pounced when Dobbins fell to them with the 55th overall pick.
Dobbins set an Ohio State record with 2,003 rushing yards during his final season in 2019, breaking the previous mark of 1,927 held by Eddie George in 1995. Dobbins finished his career with 4,459 rushing yards, 796 receiving yards and 43 touchdowns.
Dobbins has the talent to leap-frog some Edwards and Hill to become the main backup to Ingram in 2020 before taking over the starting role full-time.
“He's a very talented guy with electric skills and played at a very high level in a really good conference [on] one of the best teams in college football, so we're excited to get him," DeCosta said about Dobbins. "He fits us, and I think he's going to be a guy that is going to be a dangerous player for us and give us the depth to do what we like to do.”
Offensive Tyre Phillips, a third-round pick from Mississippi State, will move from tackle to guard to compete for the starting job vacated by Marshal Yanda. Phillips could battle second-year player Ben Powers and newly acquired D.J. Fluker for that role.
"He's a legend, future Hall of Famer, but humbly, I still want to go in and fill in that spot like nobody ever left," Phillips said about Yanda. "Just pick up where I can, pick up where he left off. So, it's going to mean a lot just knowing that, ‘Hey, I have a lot to look up to following in that position and the caliber player he was.’”
DeCosta said Phillips' versatility will bode well in the competition for playing time.
"He is definitely a guy we looked at as a guy who can move inside to guard," DeCosta said. "He actually was down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and he did reps at both tackle and guard, or both tackle spots during the week, and saw some action at guard during the game and during the week of practice. When we watched him, we felt like he was a guy who can transition inside to guard.
"In terms of competing for a starting job, all these guys [who] we draft, we expect to come in and compete. But, there are guys here who we believe in, too, so he’s going to have to come in, get to work and fight for the position.”