Yesterday, we took a look at the imprint Joe Douglas had on the offensive draft picks for the Baltimore Ravens over a seven year span. By looking at the period that started with the arrival of Joe Flacco, we’re able to see how Baltimore built their roster to surround the future of their franchise and correlate any patterns we’re beginning to see with the Eagles. But what about on the defensive front?
Again, while Douglas didn’t decide who was drafted, nor did he have a direct impact on that front, he did play a huge role in scouting and evaluating the talent, earning a reputation as a future GM in the NFL. His prints can be seen all over the Ravens draft strategy in recent years..so let’s take a closer look at the drafts between 2008-2015 on the defensive side of the ball.
Average round drafted: 3.9
The first thing we notice about this list is the sheer abundance of defensive linemen that have been drafted, not to mention the talent found in the mid rounds. The name that will now sound familiar to Eagles fans, is 24-year old Timmy Jernigan..who was traded to the Birds just a few days ago. Jernigan is one of only seven defensive tackles with 4 or more sacks in each of the last 3 seasons, and will provide a short-term solution to the hole left by Bennie Logan. The run-stopping ability of Jernigan is second to none and last year he was able to set career highs in tackles for a loss in a defense that allowed the 5th fewest rushing yards in the NFL.
Paul Kruger and Brandon Williams are two of the biggest names on the list, but it’s surprising how many became staples in the Ravens Defense. Carl Davis and Za’Darius Smith have seen plenty of playing time since being drafted, while Brent Urban recorded 2 sacks last year. Arthur Jones landed in Indianapolis and missed the 2016 season. Even seventh round pick DeAngelo Tyson was able to make an impact for three seasons before an injury forced the Ravens to waive him a settlement. They would later release him fully and he would be picked up by the Seahawks, who would also cut ties.
It’s safe to say that Douglas has an eye for talent along the Defensive line. Given that Bennie Logan has left a long-term fill that has been solved by a short-term solution, and the starting depth at DE is questionable, don’t be surprised to see the Eagles attempt to bring in some more explosiveness in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.
Average round drafted: 2.6
There are two things we can take away from this stat and both are incredibly impressive.
1) The fact that the Ravens only drafted six linebackers in that period is a testament to the value each provided.
2) The average round drafted is the highest of any position on the roster. An average of a mid second round pick is very high for any position, but it’s clear that the scouting team, led by Douglas felt far more comfortable drafting linebackers early..and it worked beautifully.
For the Eagles, the need for a third linebacker to support Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham is only becoming more and more pressing as time goes on. The team’s reliance on the nickel formation was largely down to the lack of a coverage linebacker..and adding someone such as Reuben Foster (in a dream scenario) could create one of the most dominant corps’ in the NFl. Plus, it isn’t out of the question. Of the six linebackers drafted, 4 were taken inside the first two rounds.
Linebacker is a need for the Birds..and the hit rate is near enough 100% for Joe Douglas from his tenure with the Ravens. CJ Mosley, Courtney Upshaw steal the spotlight, while an oft injured Tavares Gooden struggled to shine alongside Ray Lewis during his tenure, arguably being the only real “miss” on this list.
Average round drafted: 3.6
Surprisingly, one of the Eagles biggest needs has been one of the Ravens biggest inconsistencies when it comes to drafting. The Ravens haven’t drafted a corner in the first round since 2011, where Jimmy Smith has done nothing but flash talent before having his progress thwarted with injuries, playing in just one full season since entering the league.
The other first round pick in this list, is Safety Matt Elam. From substance abuse to being benched in the heart of the 2014 season after struggling to make tackles and cover on deep routes, he has easily been one of the most disappointing first round picks in the Ravens recent memory. He wasn’t the only DB in this list to fall victim to substance issues. Asa Jackson was suspended in 2012 and violated the PED policy once again a year later. Although he was later approved to use Adderall for his attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the suspensions stung his career.
Terrence Brooks was actually signed by the Eagles in the midst of last season and spent the majority of his short time with the team on the special teams unit. However, he did come down with a crucial interception, the first of his career, in the win over New York late in the year and was able to turn some heads during his cornerback reps.
Ladarius Webb is obviously the name that stands out here. The free safety has battled injury throughout his career but has gone on to become a staple of the Ravens Defense, amassing 87 passes defensed, 13 interceptions and 428 tackles in his career to date. Douglas played a HUGE role in evaluating Webb, who is easily the most notable name on the above list.
The Eagles desperately need cornerback help and it’s interesting that the Ravens have struggled to balance injury traits and off the field issues, with on the field production, especially in the heart of the draft where the depth of talent is said to be the ripest its been in years this offseason.
What is encouraging, is how successful Webb has turned out for the Ravens..and just how pivotal Douglas was in that process.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Jason Bridge USA Today Sports Images