The Ravens got quicker and tougher this offseason.
New general manager Eric DeCosta is moving the franchise in a new direction.
The Ravens added three-players with game-breaking ability — wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin, along with running back Justice Hill — in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson also has explosive speed and the rookies could perfectly complement his skillset.
“I think it just makes it hard to focus on one guy,” DeCosta said about the additions. “We played a lot of teams, really good offenses, this year. I had a chance to sit up in the press box and watch some of these offenses, and one of the main common denominators is speed. It makes it tough as a defense.
“As good as our defense has been, it’s a challenge for a team to face speed when you have multiple guys on the field at the same time who can run and make explosive plays. We got a chance to see what Lamar can do this past year, and I think our vision, collective vision, for the offense is to add more guys like that to make it really challenging on the defense.”
The Ravens are also confident with the strides Jackson has made this season. He spent months working on his technique and the team is hopeful that he will take the next step in his development.
Jackson spent much of the time working out with his personal quarterback coach Joshua Harris, who said the former Heisman Trophy winner thrives in the face of adversity.
“He thrives off of competition and the doubters,” Harris told Glenn Clark Radio. “People saying he can’t do something, he locks in like I have never seen anybody.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was admittedly the happiest person in the draft room over the past weekend. The addition of Brown, Boykin and Hill provides him with more weapons to aggressively attack opponents and keep them on their heels.
The Ravens also selected Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in the sixth round and plan to take advantage of his versatility, much like the New Orleans Saints use Taysom Hill.
It’s a new style of Ravens football.
“It changes everything. It really does,” Roman said about the team’s speed. “It really changes math, it changes angles, it changes what we can do. We can kind of hit the defense at every level. It’s going to bring an element where we’ll be adding and developing things that we’ll focus on Marquise as we go. So, we’ll have our system, obviously, but there will be things that grow off of that as well – down the field, everywhere, behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defense.”
In addition to adding this new skillset, the Ravens also added some hard-nosed players in the draft. Ben Powers, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma, is expected to battle for the starting job at left guard. He also brings an edge to the team.
“What motivates me is I love taking a grown man’s dreams and crushing them,” Powers said prior to the draft.
The Ravens also selected Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson in the third round. He could offset the loss of several key pass rushers. Ferguson, whose nickname is “Sack Daddy,” broke the NCAA record for career sacks with 45, eclipsing the previous mark set by Terrell Suggs.
Daylon Mack, a fifth-round pick from Texas A&M, will add depth to the defensive line.
Another player to watch is former Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle Gerald Willis III, who is being signed as an undrafted free agent. He had 18 tackles and four sacks last season. Willis was expected to be a second or third day draft pick but some off-the-field concerns hurt his value.
As a result, the Ravens might have gotten themselves a steal.