After one rookie camp, Organized Team Activities, full team minicamp and one training camp practice, Head Coach John Harbaugh was ready to make a bold statement.
“I’ll tell you, this rookie class is the deepest one we have had since we have been here,” he said on Thursday.
This is the fifth rookie class Harbaugh has had, and there have been some very successful ones before. So it’s a statement that holds some weight.
Given a full offseason with the team – as opposed to last year’s locked out rookies – this class has impressed and enters camp with a head start.
There wasn’t a first-round pick. Two second-round picks, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and Kelechi Osemele, figure to be large contributors this season. Third-round pick Bernard Pierce could be the backup running back.
Center Gino Gradkowski, safety Christian Thompson, cornerback Asa Jackson, wide receiver Tommy Streeter and defensive end DeAngelo Tyson round out the draft picks.
Then there are the undrafted rookies, which may make up the depth Harbaugh is referring to.
Tackle Jack Cornell ran with the first-team offense on Thursday with Bryant McKinnie not present and Osmele and Jah Reid sidelined by minor injuries.
Others who have stood out so far are wide receiver Deonte Thompson, running back Bobby Rainey, and inside linebacker Nigel Carr.
Thompson has been a frequent target of quarterback Joe Flacco. After dropping one pass on a slant over the middle, Thompson got the next pass right back to him and caught it the second time.
The 5-foot-8, 212-pound Rainey is a similar player in stature to Rice, and has mixed into the running back competition. Carr’s a big-bodied (6-2, 247), passionate linebacker who seems to have a nose for the ball.
“There’s going to be some guys making the team that people hadn’t heard of going in,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens have found gold in the undrafted free agent market every year. They snagged eventual starter Jameel McClain in 2008, Dannell Ellerbe in 2009 and Albert McClellan in 2010 (all linebackers). Long snapper Morgan Cox is also from the 2010 class.
Running back Damien Berry, guard Justin Boren, linebackers Williams and Josh Bynes and defensive tackle Bryan Hall are undrafted free agents from last year competing again to make the team.