Ravens score big in Rounds 2 and 3…

The Ravens waited patiently until the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, and their restraint was rewarded…

In terms of pure draft value, this may have been Ozzie Newsome’s best performance ever…

Courtney Upshaw, DE, third pick of the 2nd round…6-2, 272, Alabama…

Kelechi Osemele, G, 28th pick of the 2nd round… 6-5, 333, Iowa State…

Bernard Pierce, RB, 21st pick of the 3rd round… 6-0, 215, Temple…

The Ravens take value. Year after year, they see a blue-chip talent fall for some bogus reason or another. And then they snap them up, coach them up and make them into Pro Bowlers. General manager Ozzie Newsome did it again by drafting Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw with the 35th overall pick in the draft.

Upshaw was a player with whom most teams didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know what position at which to play him. The Ravens specialize in customizing roles to fit a player’s strength.

Is Terrell Suggs a linebacker or a defensive end? What was Adalius Thomas?

Upshaw is a tough, smart football player. He’s a hitter. And now he’s a Baltimore Raven.

“He plays like a junkyard dog,” Ravens director of personnel Eric DeCosta said of Upshaw, according to The Associated Press. “He’s a physical, violent football player. A lot of guys can rush the passer, a lot of guys can drop and play in space, but setting the edge is really one of the most important things at this position, and we feel this guy can do that.”

Then the Ravens upgraded their offensive line in a big way – literally. Baltimore had a couple players at positions of need remaining on the board that they liked at No. 60. The higher-ranked of the two was Iowa St. guard/tackle Kelechi Osemele.

So General Manager Ozzie Newsome stayed true to his board and pulled the trigger. What Baltimore got is a massive, physical player who has a very high ceiling because of his outstanding physical traits.

The offensive lineman many pundits predicted for the Ravens, center Peter Konz, was taken by the Atlanta Falcons five picks before Baltimore.

Osemele will immediately contend for the starting spot at right tackle and particularly left guard after Ben Grubbs’ departure via free agency and right tackle. In 43 consecutive starts, Osemele played 38 games at left tackle and five at left guard. He recorded 299 knockdowns and posted 49 touchdown-resulting blocks.

“I think at the Senior Bowl, he was one of the better offensive linemen there,” Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said. “We had an opportunity to watch him all week. We saw a big, physical guy with very, very long arms who moves well on his feet. He’s strong.”

Osemele stands in at 6-foot-5, 333 pounds. He has some of the longest arms of anyone in the draft (35 1/4–inch reach), a wingspan of 85 ½ inches and huge 10 3/8-inch hands. Those arms and hands make him difficult to escape. He is very strong (32 bench press reps at the combine), with a powerful base to anchor.

But Osemele said his temperament is what makes him stand out. “I feel like I bring a lot of competitiveness and physicality and aggressiveness to this team,” Osemele said. “I just want to get in there and compete from Day 1 and try to fit where I may. I’ll let the [chips] fall where they may and try to make this team better.”

Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed that Osemele will compete with Jah Reid, the currently penciled-in left guard. He’ll also push Michael Oher at right tackle. Oher could swing to left tackle. “You know what? It gives us some competition and we like that,” Harbaugh said.

Then Baltimore traded up in the third round to take Temple running back Bernard Pierce. To get Pierce, the Ravens traded with the Atlanta Falcons to move up seven spots, swapping third-round picks and also giving up their fifth-round pick (No. 164).

“We started to look at the board and we started to see that a lot of the players that we really wanted were being picked,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. “We had the additional pick in the fifth round and we felt like the value of going up and getting Bernard was worth it.”

Pierce (6-foot-0, 215 pounds) comes to Baltimore after rushing for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. During his three-year career at Temple, Pierce finished second in school history with 3,570 rushing yards.

“He is a one-cut runner with some size,” Newsome said. “He runs really well behind his pads. That’s the style of running game that we use.”

Pierce is a big-bodied running back that brings a contrasting style to Rice. He has decent speed – he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds – but is also big enough to replace running back Ricky Williams, who surprisingly retired at the start of the offseason, as the Ravens power rusher.

“If you want me to get those short yards, those fourth-and-1s, third-and-shorts, I can definitely adapt to a game plan any way you want me to,” Pierce said on a conference call. “I’m a big back, and I’m not going to go down easy. I’m going to fight for every yard.”

The Ravens made the move to provide some additional depth in the backfield with Williams gone. Newsome said that Williams’ decision to retire factored into drafting Pierce, and that Rice’s ongoing contract negotiations were not part of the decision.

The Ravens like having a big running back to provide a different rushing style than Rice. With the bruising Williams as his backup last year, Rice had the best season of his career and routinely said that Williams was the “best thing that ever happened to me.” Adding Pierce to the mix gives the Ravens another option to wear down defenses and keep Rice from getting overworked.

“He’s an amazing player,” Pierce said about Rice. “I’ve watched a lot of film on him. He does his job and his does it well. I just want to come on the team and try to contribute in any way I possibly can.”

Pierce could also be an option in the red zone and in short yardage situations. “He’s really good down in the red zone, and also at the goal line,” Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said. “He’s a real physical guy. He can lower his pads and do a really nice job down there.”

Pierce will compete with second-year running backs Anthony Allen and Damien Berry for the backup job. All three players also have the ability to play special teams, which appealed to the Ravens.

Day 2 Draft Summary:
Round 2:                                             ESPN Grade

1 Brian Quick WR Rams 79
2 Coby Fleener TE Colts 89
3 Courtney Upshaw DE Ravens 90
4 Derek Wolfe DT Broncos 84
5 Mitchell Schwartz OT Browns 81
6 Andre Branch DE Jaguars 87
7 Janoris Jenkins DB Rams 87
8 Amini Silatolu OG Panthers 87
9 Cordy Glenn OT Bills 91
10 Jonathan Martin OT Dolphins 89
11 Stephen Hill WR Jets 90
12 Jeff Allen OG Chiefs 89
13 Alshon Jeffery WR Bears 83
14 Mychal Kendricks ILB Eagles 82
15 Bobby Wagner ILB Seahawks 73
16 Tavon Wilson S Patriots 32
17 Kendall Reyes DT Chargers 86
18 Isaiah Pead RB Rams 78
19 Jerel Worthy DT Packers 91
20 Zach Brown OLB Titans 78
21 Devon Still DT Bengals 89
22 Ryan Broyles WR Lions 70
23 Peter Konz C Falcons 87
24 Mike Adams OT Steelers 86
25 Brock Osweiler QB Broncos 87
26 Lavonte David OLB Buccaneers 88
27 Vinny Curry DE Eagles 86
28 Kelechi Osemele OG Ravens 78
29 Lamichael James RB 49ers 79
30 Casey Hayward DB Packers 80
31 Rueben Randle WR Giants 88

Round 3:                                        ESPN Grade

1 Dwayne Allen TE Colts 83
2 Trumaine Johnson DB Rams 86
3 Josh Robinson DB Vikings 82
4 Ronnie Hillman RB Broncos 59
5 Devier Posey WR Texans 57
6 T.j. Graham WR Bills 60
7 Bryan Anger P Jaguars 31
8 Josh Leribeus OG Redskins 54
9 Olivier Vernon DE Dolphins 79
10 Brandon Taylor S Chargers 78
11 Donald Stephenson OT Chiefs 71
12 Russell Wilson QB Seahawks 69
13 Brandon Brooks OG Texans 79
14 Demario Davis OLB Jets 72
15 Michael Egnew TE Dolphins 69
16 Brandon Hardin S Bears 62
17 Jamell Fleming DB Cardinals 71
18 Tyrone Crawford DE Cowboys 75
19 Mike Martin DT Titans 78
20 Mohamed Sanu WR Bengals 68
21 Bernard Pierce RB Ravens 71
22 Dwight Bentley DB Lions 81
23 Sean Spence OLB Steelers 64
24 John Hughes DT Browns 35
25 Nick Foles QB Eagles 84
26 Akiem Hicks DT Saints 63
27 Jake Bequette DE Patriots 60
28 Lamar Holmes OT Falcons 31
29 T.y. Hilton WR Colts 75
30 Brandon Thompson DT Bengals 87
31 Jayron Hosley DB Giants 70
32. Tony Bergstrom   OG     Raiders 60


Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.