Reviewing Ravens’ 2020 draft class after unprecedented season

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Assessing the Ravens’ draft class isn’t easy after a strange year absent of the usual offseason program and preseason games to get rookies acclimated to the rigors of the NFL.

Of course, that didn’t stop first-year players from contributing around the league or in Baltimore where six of 10 draft choices played at least 250 offensive or defensive snaps this season. In comparison, just three of the Ravens’ 2019 draft picks (Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson, and Miles Boykin) played that many snaps as rookies while five from the acclaimed 2018 group (Lamar Jackson, Hayden Hurst, Orlando Brown Jr., Mark Andrews, and Kenny Young) saw that much action in their first year.

“Every guy is different. But I think overall, if you’re going to put a grade on those rookies, you’d have to put a good grade on those rookies in terms of just how they played this year for us,” head coach John Harbaugh said last month. “But they played like rookies too. Mistakes were made even in the Buffalo game that were kind of rookie mistakes that you do expect rookies to make at some point in time, and that’s just part of the growth process.”

For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus used its wins above replacement metric to rank the Ravens 26th in the league “on the value of their rookie class over expectation given where each player was selected” in the draft.

Below is a look at each of Baltimore’s 10 selections in the 2020 draft:

ILB Patrick Queen
Draft position: First round, 28th overall
Defensive snaps in regular season: 858
Synopsis: As inside linebackers frequently do, Queen led his team in tackles with 105. He was also the only player in the NFL with at least 70 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception, and a defensive touchdown, a stat line showing off his ceiling and ability to blitz. But some splash plays didn’t tell the whole story as the LSU product surrendered a 103.1 passer rating in coverage and finished with a team-worst 21 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Reference. Queen finished with PFF’s second-lowest grade among all off-ball linebackers. Even if you believe that assessment swings too far in the negative direction, the 21-year-old would surely benefit from adding muscle to his 232-pound frame to hold up better against the run and must improve in coverage substantially to justify using a first-round pick on an inside linebacker in today’s game.

RB J.K. Dobbins
Draft position: Second round, 55th overall
Offensive snaps in regular season: 456
Synopsis: The selection of Dobbins raised some eyebrows in April because of the backfield depth Baltimore already had as well as the perceived diminished value of drafting running backs early, but one could easily argue the Ravens wouldn’t have made the playoffs without the Ohio State product, who led all NFL running backs at just over 6.0 yards per carry. Dobbins was sensational upon returning from his COVID-19 infection, rushing for 425 yards and averaging 6.85 yards per carry over the last five regular-season games to take the lead back role. His need to improve in pass protection and as a receiver was magnified in the playoff loss to the Bills, but Dobbins was the clear star of Baltimore’s 2020 draft class.


DT Justin Madubuike
Draft position: Third round, 71st overall
Defensive snaps in regular season: 260
Synopsis: A summer knee injury delayed the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Madubuike’s debut until Week 5 as he then fought for playing time in a veteran-laden rotation, but the rookie showed no shortage of potential as a pass rusher and against the run, finishing 41st out of 130 interior defensive linemen in PFF’s grading. With Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams well on the wrong side of 30 and entering the final year of their contracts, Madubuike has a chance to become a staple up front in 2021 and beyond.

WR Devin Duvernay
Draft position: Third round, 92nd overall
Offensive snaps in regular season: 347
Synopsis: Ranking sixth in the NFL in kick return average and also becoming the primary punt returner late in the season, the Texas product showed off his ability on special teams for a team that had lacked consistency in the return game in recent years. However, his late-season disappearance on offense was disappointing considering Duvernay averaged 11.3 yards per offensive touch. Including the postseason, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound wideout was targeted only twice and carried the ball just two times over Baltimore’s final six games. Much attention will be on the search for an impact addition at wide receiver this offseason, but Duvernay’s development will be important in trying to improve an underwhelming passing attack.

ILB Malik Harrison
Draft position: Third round, 98th overall
Defensive snaps in regular season: 264
Synopsis: Harrison was solid against the run with 36 tackles and finished second on the team in special-teams tackles, but his development in pass coverage will determine whether his role expands beyond early-down, base-defense situations. Still, the Ohio State product was active for all 18 games and played roughly a quarter of the defensive snaps, which is right around what you would have reasonably expected for his rookie season.

OL Tyre Phillips
Draft position: Third round, 106th overall
Offensive snaps in regular season: 418
Synopsis: Making a combined 10 starts — including both postseason games — at right guard and right tackle spoke to the Mississippi State product’s positional versatility as well as the Ravens’ deficiencies on the right side of the offensive line with the retirement of Marshal Yanda and the shift of Orlando Brown Jr. to the left side after Ronnie Stanley’s season-ending ankle injury in Week 8. Phillips had his struggles at both spots, but the absence of an in-person offseason program arguably hurt young offensive linemen more than any other position. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound lineman won’t be penciled in for a starting spot, but a strong spring and summer would go a long way for his chances and would at least solidify his standing as a valuable depth piece on game days.

OL Ben Bredeson
Draft position: Fourth round, 143rd overall
Offensive snaps in regular season: 48
Synopsis: The Michigan product played sparingly in 10 games and, like Phillips, would have especially benefited from a conventional spring and summer. A strong offseason would put him in the mix for what figures to be some substantial competition on the interior line.

DT Broderick Washington
Draft position: Fifth round, 170th overall
Defensive snaps in regular season: 161
Synopsis: Despite Campbell, Williams, and Derek Wolfe all missing multiple games, Washington never distinguished himself in the rotation and was active for just one of Baltimore’s final seven games. Youth is on his side, but the 6-foot-2, 305-pound defensive tackle needs to take a step forward to secure a 53-man roster spot for 2021 and show he can be part of the future up front.

WR James Proche
Draft position: Sixth round, 201st overall
Offensive snaps in regular season: 25
Synopsis: Proche was steady but unspectacular as a punt returner before being replaced by Duvernay late in the season, but he never carved out an offensive role as two of his three targets were intercepted and returned for touchdowns, one of the strangest factoids of the year. Baltimore traded up to draft the sure-handed Proche last April, so this will be an important offseason to learn if he’s ready and explosive enough for a more meaningful role on offense.

S Geno Stone
Draft position: Seventh round, 219th overall
Defensive snaps in regular season: 2
Synopsis: The Ravens seemed genuinely excited to land Stone, who was labeled “the biggest steal of the 2020 NFL draft” by PFF. But despite a lack of depth at safety that contributed to Wink Martindale moving away from the dime package that was used extensively in 2019, Stone was active for only two games and spent time on the practice squad and the reserve-COVID-19 list before being claimed off waivers by Houston in late December.

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