BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After giving up an NFL-worst 4,742 passing yards, the Ravens shored up their secondary this offseason by signing safety Marcus Williams. Executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta doubled down with the 14th overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, taking dynamic safety Kyle Hamilton out of Notre Dame.
A series of trades netted the Ravens the 25th overall pick, and DeCosta decided to add more protection for quarterback Lamar Jackson by selecting Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Rain Showers Continue But Expect A Sunny Weekend
“I think we’re all thrilled we got, in our opinion, the very two best players at their positions,” DeCosta said in a late-evening press conference, flanked by head coach John Harbaugh and director of player personnel Joe Hortiz.
The blockbuster deal that made it all happen: the Ravens sent wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, along with the 100th pick, to the Arizona Cardinals to jump back into the first round at No. 23.
In an apparent response to seeing his best friend on the team traded away and the front office not taking another receiver to replace him, Jackson tweeted, “Wtf” shortly after the Linderbaum pick was announced. He followed up and said his reaction had nothing to do with the center who will be snapping him the ball this year.
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) April 29, 2022
Brown will join Kyler Murray, his college quarterback at Oklahoma, in Arizona. The wideout made an appearance at the Cardinals’ draft party in Glendale, AZ, suggesting the trade had been in the works for a while. DeCosta confirmed an agreement had been reached earlier in the week.
BREAKING: @MarquiseBrown28 makes his first public appearance as an @AZCardinals during the team’s draft party at @StateFarmStdm. The team announced, a few minutes prior, its 23rd draft pick trade for the former @Ravens. @abc15 is here and will have more at 10! #abc15arizona pic.twitter.com/IuvtZJACyM
— Venton Blandin (@VentonBlandinTV) April 29, 2022
Brown did send a message to his buddy Jackson. “Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but ima see you at the top @Lj_era8,” he tweeted.
Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but ima see you at the top @Lj_era8 🤞🏿💯
— Hollywood Brown (@Primetime_jet) April 29, 2022
During his press conference, DeCosta said Brown approached him in the offseason to say he was unhappy and requested a trade.
“I think he would say he feels happy, which is good,” DeCosta said about the move. “And we made the best of that situation as a club. We used that pick wisely, I think.”
He later added: “I hope the best for Hollywood, I really do. I hope he’s in the Pro Bowl. But I also think that this guy that we drafted is going to be in Pro Bowls, too. So that will be a heck of a thing.”
Brown later tweeted, “4eva Love For My Ppl In Baltimore But I Had To Do What’s Best For Me,” punctuated by a 100 emoji.
4eva Love For My Ppl In Baltimore But I Had To Do What’s Best For Me 💯
— Hollywood Brown (@Primetime_jet) April 29, 2022
Jackson was notified before the trade was made, DeCosta said.
“Anytime a teammate is potentially getting traded, it’s something that’s hard for the players to understand at times,” he said. “But, I think, in the end, it happens, it’s part of the business.”
In a video addressing Ravens fans, Hamilton said he was ready to get to work.
“Baltimore’s the spot. I mean, great defense all around for the past however many years, I’m excited to add to it,” he said. “Let’s win a Super Bowl ring.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 29, 2022
At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Hamilton has the size to play up close to the line of scrimmage, according to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein.
“High-impact safety with unique blend of traits and characteristics that make him a bit of a unicorn at the position. Hamilton has the eyes and speed to play over the top, the strength and toughness to play near the line, and coverage length to guard elite pass-catching tight ends who often mismatch opposing defenses.” he wrote.READ MORE: Traffic Advisory For US 50 East Before Bay Bridge
DeCosta touted Hamilton’s physical skills, ballhawk ability and range, saying he could do “a myriad of different things” for the Ravens defense, covering tight ends, playing up top and moving down in the box.
“I never dreamed in a million years he would be there,” DeCosta said.
Shortly after the pick, the Ravens dealt Brown, the team’s top selection in 2019 and one of Jackson’s favorite targets, and a third-rounder to the Cardinals to land the 23rd pick.
The Ravens then sent that pick to the Buffalo Bills for the 25th and 130th picks, setting up the selection of Linderbaum.
In three seasons with the Fighting Irish, Hamilton recorded 138 total tackles, 7 1/2 tackles for loss and 8 interceptions. He was limited to seven games in 2021 after hurting his knee against USC on Oct. 23.
The 21-year-old will join Williams, Chuck Clark, Brandon Stephens and Geno Stone in the safety room. If starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters return healthy from seadon-ending injuries, the back end of the Ravens defense could resemble the 2019 unit that limited opponents to 3,315 yards through the air and intercepted 13 passes en route to a 14-2 record.
“We think we have a lot of chess pieces that will help us be a very good defense,” DeCosta said.
Heading into the draft, many analysts expected the Ravens to take an offensive lineman after the unit surrendered 57 sacks, second-most in the NFL, and the play suffered without All Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who only played in the season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders before opting for his second straight season-ending ankle surgery.
According to Pro Football Focus, Linderbaum, who also wrestled for the Hawkeyes, is “the best center prospect we’ve seen” since the website started grading college players. During his three-year career at Iowa, he only allowed two sacks and only committed two penalties.
Linderbaum will replace Bradley Bozeman, now with the Carolina Panthers. Bozeman ranked 2nd among centers in Pass Block Win Rate and 7th in Run Block Win Rate, according to ESPN Analytics.
Even if Linderbaum, listed at 296 pounds, is not the biggest lineman on the field, his highly technical skillset allows him to easily handle larger defenders, Hortiz said.
“He just is a really tremendous athlete, knows how to play the positions, knows how to get his body in the right spot, and then he just consistently works at maintaining his blocks,” he said. “You’ll see it, when they show highlights, he’ll block three guys in one play. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”
With Stanley and right tackle Ja’Wuan James set to return from injuries, and the team adding right tackle Morgan Moses in free agency, there will be a lot of competition for starting jobs and backup roles, Harbaugh said.
“The thing we’re trying to do is be a physical, punishing offensive line. We want that kind of a mindset in our group,” he said. “That’s what Tyler Linderbaum brings to us. Pat Mekari’s like that already, a lot of our guys are. This guy adds to it.”MORE NEWS: Video Shows Squeegee Worker Assaulting A Driver At Busy Baltimore Intersection
Entering Friday, the Ravens hold one pick in the second round (45th overall), one pick in the third round (76th overall), six picks in the fourth round (110th, 119th, 128th, 130th, 139th and 141st overall), and one pick in the sixth round (196th overall).