The Baltimore Ravens usually get a pretty good return on their investments in the NFL Draft. Very rare is the instance the Ravens don’t have at least one rookie who makes an impact on the team. Last year it was first and second rounders Matt Elam (S) and Arthur Brown (LB) who made an impact as the two combined for 130 tackles. Which rookies from the Ravens 2014 NFL Draft class will make an impact this fall?
Once again, the guys taken early will be expected to come in and produce right away. First round pick C.J. Mosley (ILB, Alabama) is the odds on favorite to beat out the previously mentioned Brown for the starting inside ‘backer job next to ’13 leading tackler Daryl Smith. While it was known Brown would have to bulk up and get bigger to play inside an odd front, Mosley has the size, strength and experience within a 3-4 scheme so the learning curve should be minimal. That should be a nice inside rotation between the three this fall.
Second round pick Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU) likely won’t win a starting job like Mosley but should immediately contribute to the defensive line rotation this fall. He’ll likely bounce back and forth between the 5-tech and the zero, backing up NT Brandon Williams and DEs Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty. Personally I think he’ll be best suited outside at the 5 where his explosiveness will help get him upfield and get pressure on the QB, and I don’t think it’s impossible for him to beat out Canty with a strong performance in camp.
Third round pick Terrence Brooks (S, FSU) will be the odds on favorite to win the starting FS job opposite Elam at SS. This could go down as an absolute steal if Brooks develops like most are expecting him to. His range and coverage instincts should help clean up many of Elam’s blown coverages (far and away his biggest problem last year as a rookie), and the two should complement each other nicely moving forward. I’ll be shocked if Omar Brown beats out Brooks in camp.
There’s also a chance some of the other rookies could see some early time, though they’ll have a tougher time getting on the field than the previously mentioned guys. Crockett Gilmore (TE, Colorado State) could see some time considering how often Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels are injured, and Lorenzo Taliaferro (RB, Coastal Carolina) could find some carries his way if Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce once again average under 3 yards per carry