Baltimore Ravens draft class marred by injuries


Nov 9, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (97) reacts after sacking Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger (7) at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 21-7. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

With no fewer than two future starters (more likely at least four) and with no busts to speak of, the Baltimore Ravens draft class of 2014 has been nothing short of incredible. Just imagine how great they would be without all the injuries.

After putting Terrence Brooks and Lorenzo Taliaferro on injured reserve this week, the Ravens now have three draft picks and two undrafted rookies on injured reserve. Brent Urban, a fourth-round pick, is on IR, as are undrafted free agents Tramain Jacobs and Jeremy Butler.

Taliaferro and Brooks have both contributed quite a bit this year. Brooks played a significant role at free safety, showing promise but also making some rookie mistakes. His future appears bright. Taliaferro, meanwhile, has been the Ravens’ most powerful back, having run for four touchdowns on just 68 carries.

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Aside from IR, Michael Campanaro has spent much of his rookie season on the shelf. He has only played three games this year, but has been excellent in those games with 85 yards and a touchdown. He actually managed to lead all Ravens wide receivers in a loss against Cincinnati with three catches for 40 yards.

There is no point in asking what ifs. So how about this: Instead of dwelling on what could have been this year, focus on what the Ravens have coming back next year. Brooks, with a full offseason to learn and grow, could become special, as could Taliaferro, who looks likely to have an increased role next year. Brent Urban is huge at 6’7″ and extremely physical. A full year of film study and lifting could turn him into an immediate contributor next year.

And don’t forget about the guys who have contributed. C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan are already plus defenders. Crockett Gillmore has flashed upside, having his biggest game of the year against the Jaguars with 37 yards, He has also impressed as a blocker, garnering a positive run blocking grade on Pro Football Focus. And John Urschel was very impressive in his limited action this year. With Kelechi Osemele hurt, Urschel made sure the Ravens’ offense didn’t miss a beat in his two starts against Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

So yes, this year’s draft class has been marred by injuries. But those injuries also highlight how good the healthy rookies have been, and it gives plenty of reason for optimism as guys like Brooks, Taliaferro and Urban get the opportunity to finally play a bigger role.

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