After losing several valuable pieces to free agency, Ravens use 9 draft picks to fill void



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OWINGS MILLS, Maryland — The Baltimore Ravens have evidently decided that the best way to deal with a tight salary cap is to get players with a predetermined wage scale.

Baltimore couldn't afford to pay wide receiver Torrey Smith, linebacker Pernell McPhee, tight end Owen Daniels or defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Smith, McPhee and Daniels signed elsewhere as free agents, and Ngata was traded to Detroit.

And so, in an exhaustive span of three days, general manager Ozzie Newsome attempted to fill those holes with NFL draft picks. After he was done, the Ravens had addressed just about all their needs.

"It's a big success," coach John Harbaugh said. "We scratched a lot of itches. The opportunity was there in this draft to do it, and that's very fortunate for us."

Newsome selected Central Florida wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round Thursday, then followed up with Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams and Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis on Friday.

The speedy Perriman is expected to provide the deep threat that Smith did, Williams has the potential to step in for Daniels and Davis could find himself backing up Timmy Jernigan where Ngata once lurked.

Newsome resumed the pattern Saturday. He chose Kentucky outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith in the fourth round with the 122nd overall pick, obtained in the trade for Ngata. He snagged Southern Cal running back Javorius Allen in the fourth round (125th overall) and fortified the defensive backfield by choosing cornerback Tray Walker out of Texas Southern with a compensatory pick.

Za'Darius Smith is being counted on to step in for McPhee, who signed as a free agent in March with the Chicago Bears. Allen will be given the chance to back up Justin Forsett, a job held by Bernard Pierce before he was released in March.

The Ravens rarely draft for need, and they insisted that wasn't the case this year.

"It just worked out well," assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said.

Baltimore entered the draft with 10 picks — three of them compensatory. Newsome hoped to make the most of it.

"When we let players walk out of the door because they get huge contracts that we can't match, then we get those picks," Newsome said Friday night. "We have to be able to utilize those picks to be able to get some good players to come in and help our football team. That will make our draft."

When it was all over, a weary Newsome forged a smile.

"We feel good about the collective work that has been done the past three days," he said. "But we're not done putting this team together. We're still going to mining for players to make us better."

In the fifth round Saturday, the Ravens added Delaware tight end Nick Boyle and Tennessee State guard Robert Myers. Both picks were compensatory.

Getting another tight end was a logical move. Not only is Daniels gone, but Dennis Pitta has missed 25 games over the past two seasons with a hip fracture and there's no guarantee he will return.

"I still don't know what's going to happen with him," Newsome said of Pitta. "But Maxx Williams was way ahead of anybody we had on the board when we picked him and Boyle was the same way."

Baltimore's final selection, 6-foot-6 wide receiver Darren Waller of Georgia Tech, was a sixth-rounder that came in the 2014 trade that sent Rolando McClain to Dallas.

Za'Darius Smith was named MVP of the East-West Shrine Game and earned a spot in the Senior Bowl. The 6-4, 275-pounder had 10 1/2 sacks in two seasons with the Wildcats after transferring from East Mississippi Community College.

He understands completely about the departure of McPhee and how it relates to his future in the NFL. The Ravens mentioned as much when Smith visited the complex before the draft.

"That's all they talked about," Smith said. "I can tell you this: I'm going to follow in his footsteps and I'm going to be the best pass rusher and the best run stopper I can."

Allen left USC after his junior year. In his career, he ran for 2,306 yards and scored 27 touchdowns.

"I couldn't ask for a better situation," Allen said. "My time came, and I'm going to take full advantage of it."

The running back position became a need after the Ravens cut Pierce following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.


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