Ravens draft Clemson LB Trenton Simpson in 3rd round
By NOAH TRISTER
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens waited more than 50 picks before it was their turn on the second night of the NFL draft.
If that was frustrating, they at least knew it was for a good reason.
The Ravens didn't have a second-round pick because they traded it for star linebacker Roquan Smith last season. That meant they only made one selection Friday night - Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round, at No. 86 overall.
“It was a long day, as I feared it would,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “I just kept thinking about Roquan. In fact, at one point, we actually FaceTimed with Roquan. Believe it or not, that is true.”
While many teams like to show surprise that the player they ended up with was still available, the Ravens admitted that they saw a lot of good potential picks go by the wayside.
“At one point, early part of the third round, we probably had seven or eight names,” DeCosta said. “And by the end, we had one. So you pick the best player. That's what we do.”
The 6-foot-2 Simpson has impressive speed. He ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. Simpson was a Butkus Award semifinalist last season.
“I can fit in any scheme. I'm the most versatile linebacker in this draft, and I'm forever going to believe that,” Simpson said. “You all are not going to regret this pick. I'm going to maximize every opportunity, man, and Trenton Simpson going to go down as one of the greats for the Baltimore Ravens. Believe that.”
The Ravens looked to the defensive side of the ball after filling an obvious need at wide receiver in the first round, when they took Zay Flowers of Boston College. By the end of round three, DeCosta was glad they'd gotten a receiver early.
“Starting that (third) round, there were a lot of really good receivers available," DeCosta said. "It just got annihilated in a span of about 10 picks, and so we're very thankful that we got Zay.”
Coach John Harbaugh said Simpson will be an inside linebacker who can go out to the edge. Smith and Patrick Queen are also inside linebackers, which makes Queen's future somewhat uncertain. DeCosta hasn't said whether Baltimore will pick up Queen's fifth-year option. He said he'd address that later.
“We love Patrick, I love Patrick," DeCosta said. "I think he's a Pro Bowl linebacker in the making.”
The Ravens, who reached a five-year agreement with star quarterback Lamar Jackson shortly before the start of the draft Thursday, have three picks remaining. Those are in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
So far they've kept the first two picks they came into the week with and haven't added any.
“We think our roster's pretty good,” DeCosta said. “It's going to be hard for guys to make the team. We've had a lot of draft picks in the last three, four years, and so we went into this year really not thinking that we wanted 10 picks.”
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
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Updated April 29, 2023