Diamond in the Rough: Ravens UDFA Class

While the Ravens are lauded for their ability to find talent throughout the draft, the team’s track record for finding gems after the draft has been equally as impressive. Throughout its history, the Ravens have found a plethora of starters and difference makers in the large pool of undrafted rookies immediately following the NFL Draft. Stars such as Priest Holmes, Bart Scott, Justin Tucker, and Michael Pierce have all made their names with the Ravens and other teams despite not being selected on draft day. Thus, Baltimore’s annual class of undrafted rookies always sparks some interest among fans and pundits alike. This year, unlike years past, may carry more intrigue. With the pandemic clouding up the draft process, several players that were expected to be taken during the draft did not hear their name called but instead will get a chance to latch onto a team as a free agent.

This year’s class for the Ravens is loaded with talent. The list of names is impressive: RB Nate McCrary, WR Donte Sylencieux, TE Tony Poljan, OT Adrian Ealy, OT Foster Sarell, G Sam Cooper, DT Xavier Kelly, LB Blake Gallagher, S Ar’Darius Washington are all players who were assumed to be drafted at some point. Each player can carve out a special niche on the team but others will be looked at a little more closely than others.

One such player is TCU safety Ar’Darius Washington. Assumed to be a third round pick, Washington fell completely out of the draft due to concerns over his size. Despite a smaller frame (5’8, 178 lbs), there should be no denying his talent. He is a rangy playmaker that packs a punch when it comes to tackling. The Ravens need safety depth and could use the range that Washington offers. Washington should have been drafted and the fact that Baltimore got him without using a draft pick is a coup.

Another area of concern was the offensive line. Following an up and down season from the group as a whole due to injuries, and the eventual trade of starting offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., most had assumed the Ravens would add talent during the draft. While the Ravens did select interior offensive lineman Ben Cleveland, they opted to no add a tackle. That is why Adrian Ealy comes in with substantial intrigue. The former Sooner started a total of 23 games at both tackle spots and the Ravens have had tremendous luck in recent seasons with former players from Oklahoma. There is hope that Ealy can be groomed to be a productive swing tackle for the team.

Tight end Tony Poljan is an interesting pick up as well. While the tight end room in Baltimore is crowded with a mix of veterans and young players so there may not be much space for the former Virginia Tech tight end but he has plenty of intrigue. At 6’7, he has plenty of size and plays with enough strength to be an above average blocker. It is that kind of all around functionality the Ravens love in their third tight end. He may have difficulty making the main roster but would be a solid stash to their practice squad.

Overall, this entire undrafted free agent rookie haul has the chance to contribute right away. The Ravens are perhaps the best team at finding contributors that hadn’t been drafted so the dearth of talent added is truly intriguing. Depth is needed in key areas, especially along both sides of the trenches, and Baltimore did a fantastic job of filling those spots post draft. The Ravens can usually be counted on to keep at least one undrafted rookie on their roster so it shouldn’t be a surprise if the team carries on that tradition. A great rookie free agent haul to pair with an already stout draft class.

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