Ravens surprisingly get defensive again

May, 10, 2014
May 10
1:20
AM ET
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- For the second straight year, the Baltimore Ravens' first three draft picks were defensive players. No one was more surprised than the Ravens themselves.

"You'll all laugh because the whole board was stacked for the offense, but the way it fell for us was defensive players," general manager Ozzie Newsome said Friday night. "Eric [DeCosta, assistant general manager] made the comment several times that we're being contrarian. Everybody else in the league is drafting offensive players, and we've been drafting defensive players."

Actually, the Ravens may have been following the lead of the Seattle Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl with defense much like Baltimore did in 2000. The Ravens haven't been the same on defense recently, finishing No. 17 in 2012 and No. 12 last season. The infusion of defensive talent over the past two drafts should help the Ravens get back to their traditionally dominant ways.

After starting this year's draft with Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round, the Ravens continued their defensive theme on Day 2 by selecting two Florida State defenders, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and safety Terrence Brooks, in the second and third rounds.

While new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak may have thought this was some sort of mean joke, the additions of Jernigan and Brooks represented great value -- both are considered among the top five prospects at their positions -- and served a purpose.

Jernigan fills the run-stopping void left by Arthur Jones, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Ravens allowed 3.4 yards per run, second in the NFL, when Jones was on the field last season and 4.6 yards per carry, 29th in the league, when he was off of it. Jernigan's resume includes playing on a Florida State defense that allowed 3.1 yards per rush on runs in between the tackles last season.

Once considered a first-round talent, Jernigan watched his stock drop after he had a diluted sample at the NFL combine. Jernigan explained that it was the result of dehydration and wasn't an attempt to mask any drugs. The Ravens spoke to sources at the school to check on Jernigan's background, and they were so confident in his character that they had him as the No. 2 player on their board heading into Day 2.

"Any time you add a defensive lineman to your football team, you get yourself better," Newsome said.

The real coup for the Ravens came when the fifth-best safety in the draft was sitting there in the third round. After the top four safeties in the draft went in the first round, Brooks still fell to the No. 79 pick.

He is not only the type of center fielder the Ravens coveted, but his range should strengthen a major weakness on defense. The Ravens allowed 17 passes of 40 or more yards last season, which was tied for the most in the NFL.

"The board this year at safety, there were some really good players but there was a very small number of great players," DeCosta said. "Yeah, we were concerned. Quite honestly, he was a guy we'd hoped would be there in the third round. We had him targeted, and we're excited to get him."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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