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OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens are set on daring to go where no NFL team has been before. Well, keep no one but the Ravens.
If the Ravens use all five picks in the fourth round of this year’s draft (Round 1 is April 28 on ESPN, ABC and the ESPN App.), Baltimore will match its NFL record from six years ago with the most picks in the first five rounds in draft history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
When the Ravens had five fourth-round picks in 2016, coach John Harbaugh compared the experience to “Star Trek,” saying then-general manager Ozzie Newsome was Picard and then-assistant GM Eric DeCosta was Spock.
“For me, we were in battle with the Klingons!” said Harbaugh with a smile.
The Ravens’ fourth-round pick that year was far from historic. Baltimore’s five picks – cornerback Tavon Young, wide receiver Chris Moore, guard Alex Lewis, defensive tackle Willie Henry and running back Kenneth Dixon – total for 50 starts for the Ravens and no trips to the Pro Bowl. Only Young and Moore are left in the NFL, and neither of them are currently with the Ravens.
Baltimore is now in the rare situation again. In the joint draft era (since 1967), the only time a team had more than five selections in the same round was 1968, when the Cincinnati Bengals had nine selections in the sixth round.
After last year’s last place, the Ravens are looking for immediate dividends from a very busy fourth round.
“My thinking is that every guy we take in the fourth round this year has to play for us – that’s why we take him,” said DeCosta, who is in his fourth season as Ravens GM. “It’s our expectation from day one; they go out here, they hit the ground running, and they’re playing. So that’s just the way we look at it. Is the data backed up now? Probably not, but that’s what we think.”
Of the 369 players drafted in the fourth round over the last decade, there have been almost as many players who did not play a match as a rookie (37) as those who started over half of their matches in their first seasons (43). Last year, 19 of the 39 players taken in the fourth round were on the field for less than 200 snaps.
Baltimore believes the fourth round will be more stressful than usual. Before last year’s draft, Raven’s director of gaming staff Joe Hortiz told owner Steve Bisciotti that the 2022 would be “pretty bold” because of the players returning from COVID-19 after getting an extra year of eligibility.
“I’m really excited about it because I think we have third round value in the fourth rounds,” Bisciotti said. “That, to me, is the way I look at it, and I think the characters reflect that. On the draft charts that Eric has given me so far. You start looking at guys with certain grades, and there is just too many of them for some of them not to be there in the fourth round. ”
The Ravens’ fourth round begins with the fifth pick on Day 3 (the 110th overall pick), which came as a result of Baltimore sending its pick in the fifth round from 2022, its pick in the seventh round from 2023, and offensive lineman Ben Bredeson to the New York Giants.
The Ravens then have pick No. 119 (their own fourth-rounder), 128 (acquired from the Arizona Cardinals), 139 (compensatory pick to lose Matthew Judon) and 141 (comp pick to lose Yannick Ngakoue).
In total, Baltimore is scheduled to pick five times over the course of 31 picks.