OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — On the third day of the NFL draft, Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome finally gave offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak some ammunition for the 2014 season.
Newsome started Saturday’s session by taking Virginia defensive end Brent Urban in the fourth round. At the point, four of Baltimore’s first five picks were designed to improve a defense that ranked 12th in the NFL last year.
Newsome balanced the ledger by picking four straight offensive players to close out his 19th draft with Baltimore. He selected Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro with the team’s second compensatory pick in the fourth round, then picked Penn State guard John Urschel in the fifth round before snagging Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning in the sixth round.
That was supposed to be the end of the draft for the Ravens, who went 8-8 last year. But Newsome traded Baltimore’s sixth-round pick in 2015 to get Cleveland’s seventh-round selection and took wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who played high school ball in Maryland before starring at Wake Forest.
Final tally for the 2014 Ravens draft: Five offensive players, four defensive players.
“It just worked itself out that way,” Newsome said. “We did not go in today saying we were just going to draft offensive players. We were going to try to take the best players that were available, and they just happened to be offensive players.”
The early picks, of course, have a far better chance of making an impact. This draft will be judged heavily on the contributions of Baltimore’s first three choices (in order): Linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama; nose guard Timmy Jernigan of Florida State and strong safety Terrence Brooks, also from FSU.
Going into Saturday’s session, the hope was that the Ravens could find a few players who would prove to be helpful to Kubiak, who took the offensive reigns during the offseason.
Baltimore never did get a right tackle, which remains the team’s most glaring hole. The way it stands now, Rick Wagner, drafted last year in the fifth round, is the heir apparent to the departed Michael Oher.
“It wasn’t stacked very well, and we were not going to reach down and just take a player at the tackle position,” Newsome said. “Also, we’re not done as far as building this football team.”
Newsome has a reputation for gleaning talent from the later rounds, but on Saturday he gambled on a former hockey player and a small-school running back.
The 6-foot-7, 298-pound Urban had 40 tackles in eight games last year with the Cavaliers, missing time with a high ankle sprain.
Drafted 15th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before his senior season at Virginia, the Canadian-born Urban quit hockey around the age of 16 after realizing his body was better suited for football.
“I was definitely the biggest guy and I’d get a lot of penalties that a smaller guy wouldn’t have gotten,” he said. “So it was right about that time that I decided to switch over.”
Although Urban didn’t take up football until high school and was slowed by injury last year, he displayed enough raw talent at Virginia to convince the Ravens to take a chance with the 134th overall pick.
“He has the physical traits in terms of the burst, the speed and the quickness,” said Joe Hortiz, director of college scouting for the Ravens. “He is going to have to develop his hand playing and his pad level. But the potential is there to you an inside pass rush presence.”
Taliaferro rushed for 1,729 yards and scored 27 touchdowns last season before finishing his college career at the Senior Bowl.
The 6-foot, 230-pounder has sure hands and is expected to back up Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.
“When you factor in his running and receiving ability and pass protection as well as special teams value, that’s what you really want to get out of a third-day back,” Hortiz said.
Urschel was a defensive tackle in high school before coming to Penn State. The 6-3, 313-pounder was twice named to the All-Big Ten Conference first team.
He won the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the nation’s premier college football scholar-athlete.
Wenning will compete with Tyrod Taylor to be the backup to Joe Flacco. The 6-3 Wenning set school records at Ball State with 92 touchdown passes, 11,402 passing yards and 1,035 completions.
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