OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore Ravens first-year general manager Eric DeCosta watched and waited for much of the second day of the NFL draft.
And then finally, it was his time.
After selecting sack specialist Jaylon Ferguson of Louisiana Tech with the 85th overall pick Friday night, DeCosta handed his other third-round pick and two sixth-round choices to Minnesota to move up nine notches in the third round. With the 93rd overall selection, he snagged Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin.
With his first three picks as successor to Ozzie Newsome, DeCosta has fortified the receiving corps — sure-handed Marquise Brown of Oklahoma was taken in the first round — and addressed another pressing need.
Baltimore had a shortage of players who could pressure the quarterback after losing Terrell Suggs and Za’darius Smith to free agency. Ferguson had a nation-leading 17 ½ sacks as a senior and an NCAA-record 45 sacks over four seasons, breaking Suggs’ record.
“He’s a guy whose skill set really fits who we are as a defense,” DeCosta said. “Fills a big hole for us.”
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Ferguson also forced eight fumbles and recovered four over 51 games at Tech.
Baltimore was without a second-round pick, having traded that to Philadelphia last year to take quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round.
So DeCosta had to watch 52 picks drop off the board before the Ravens finally got on the clock late in the third round, over 3 1/2 hours after the session began.
“It was really a long day. It was frustrating for me,” DeCosta said. “I actually got up and walked out a few times and paced just because we weren’t picking for so long. Not having a second-round pick is challenge.”
The payoff was Ferguson and the 6-4, 220-pound Boykin, a strong player very capable of blocking downfield.
“A size-speed receiver with really tremendous physical gifts,” DeCosta said. “Very physical to the football. Just a big man.”
Although Boykin hoped to go earlier in the draft, he appreciated that the Ravens sacrificed two picks to get him.
“That just shows they have all the faith in the world in me,” Boykin said.
The diminutive Brown is expected to be a deep threat for Jackson, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman expects the newcomer to play a variety of roles.
“We can play him inside, outside, short, deep, all kinds of things,” Roman said. “We’re really only limited by our imagination.”
The 5-9, 170-pound Brown will also be asked to block, especially when the elusive Jackson slips out of the pocket and heads downfield.
“I’ve had to block since I was a young kid,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t able to get it done in the run game.”
Brown’s cousin, standout receiver Antonio Brown, knows all about the Ravens from his involvement in the Pittsburgh-Baltimore rivalry.
“He said this is a great place to be, that I’ll love it,” Marquise said.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has no problem with DeCosta taking two wide receivers over the first three selections, in part because each adds different skills to the mix.
“Those two guys are different,” Harbaugh said, “but they bring speed, they bring playmaking.”
A husky receiver who can block and get open in the middle, and another who get downfield in an instant. What’s not to like?
“To have one of each was probably the ideal, and to have it fall that way is great,” Harbaugh said.
With Minnesota getting two of the Ravens’ three sixth-round picks, the Ravens enter Saturday’s final day with two picks in the fourth round, one in the fifth and one in the sixth.
DeCosta worked under Newsome for more than two decades, yet he’s still learning the finer points of the job. He now knows that sitting out an entire round is no fun.
“I ate a lot more today, just pacing the hallways and gathering food,” DeCosta said. “I think it’s safe to say we’re not going to trade our second-round pick anytime soon.”
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