If you’ve been following the Ravens’ preseason, it comes as no surprise that some new faces that made the final 53-man roster weren’t drafted. I’m not referring to the new additions through trade either. Those new faces were undrafted rookie free agents. The Ravens have a reputation for not solely relying on their draft picks each year. They have been able to find valuable backup players, talented starters and even eventual superstars while doing their best to build a winning franchise.
The Ravens are historically great at finding undrafted gems. Ozzie Newsome and company signed at least one undrafted rookie free agent each year for the last 14 seasons. There were some earlier great franchise finds, like Bart Scott or Priest Holmes, that made names for themselves.
Last year there was Michael Pierce who worked his way into a starting role. The duo of Piece and Brandon Williams are setting out to be the best run demolishing combo in the league. We can’t go without mentioning probably the best find, Justin Tucker, who, when it’s all said and done, will arguably be the greatest kicker of all time. Let’s take a look at this year’s undrafted free agents who made the 53-man roster.
JAYLEN HILL: Cornerback
Jaylen Hill joins the team at cornerback, adding more talent to a Ravens secondary with a lot of depth. A Ravens secondary with depth? That feels great to type. Hill played college football at Jacksonville State, not the biggest of stages, but that didn’t stop him from putting up one of the best performances of any cornerback during the preseason. By Week 3 of preseason, Hill had put up some impressive stats.
Jaylen Hill is making a name for himself this preseason pic.twitter.com/DixOJaqD63
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 27, 2017
Hill’s most impressive play was shown with veteran-level like recognition notching his second interception in the preseason game against the Bills. Welcome to the team, Jaylen Hill.
Jaylen Hill with the INTERCEPTION and his teammates LOVE it! pic.twitter.com/iODon69Laq
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 27, 2017
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PATRICK RICARD: Defensive End
Patrick Ricard, out of Maine, had a great camp and turned heads toward his defensive play; however, to make the team at defensive line, the Ravens deepest position, he needed to perform at a very high level. Ricard won a roster spot officially listed as a defensive end, which wasn’t the position that brought him the most attention. It was at fullback.
A competition was needed to find a suitable replace at fullback after Kyle Juszczyk’s departure. The Ravens added to that competition by giving the 6’3 300 pound Ricard a shot. After Baltimore cut the other two competitors, Ricky Ortiz and Lorenzo Taliaferro, it would seem they are aiming to fill that need with Ricard.
BAM BRADLEY: Linebacker
Bam Bradley, out of Pittsburgh, probably deserves to be playing linebacker on a team somewhere purely based on the merit of his first name. After Albert McClellan went down with a season ending ACL injury, Bradley took the opportunity to show he can fill that roster spot by putting up a great performance during Week 4 of preseason. Bradley notched eight tackles and a pass deflection. The Will linebacker spot still seems to be uncertain as Kamalei Correa and Patrick Onwuasor are currently battling over it. Bradley’s contribution during regular season will most likely be limited to special teams, but he can possibly find his way into competition at Will linebacker as well.
LET THE REGULAR SEASON BEGIN
The air feels a little bit different. The regular season is upon us. The Ravens enter this regular season with not one, but three undrafted rookie free agents. We all know the stories of the greats that came to be as they played their careers with the “undrafted” chip on their shoulder. The Ravens continue to give us, year in and year out, more of those stories to root for.