Defense was the theme for the Baltimore Ravens early during the 2014 National Football League (NFL) Draft. After selecting Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley with the No. 17 overall pick in the first round, Baltimore used its next two picks on defense as well, selecting Florida State (FSU) defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan at pick No. 48 in the second round and FSU safety Terrance Brooks with the 79th pick in the third round. All three players have played on collegiate national championship teams.

“These are good young players and it’s a young man’s game,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of his new young defensive prospects.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has always stuck to his “best player available” philosophy when it comes to the draft. Instead of drafting with a specific position in mind, Newsome and the Ravens’ front office simply takes the best player available, regardless of the position they may play.

“When we stacked our list this afternoon, had to be the second guy that we put on the list as we re-stacked it,” Newsome said. “As we started to watch the draft unfold, we started to feel good that we might have a chance to get him.”

Jernigan will help the Ravens on its defensive front. At 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, Jernigan was one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in college football last season. He had 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2013, helping lead Florida State to the national title.

“I was just telling myself that all I need is a chance, and then that phone rang,” Jernigan said. “I’m going to give the Baltimore Ravens everything I have with my mind, body and soul.”

Jernigan was pleased to find out that Baltimore had drafted his teammate, Brooks, just one round later. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Brooks is versatile athlete who can play both free safety and strong safety. He stared five games at free safety and eight games at strong safety in 2013 for the national champion Seminoles, recording 56 tackles and two interceptions along the way.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Brooks said. “The whole time, I was just like, if I could take one guy with me, it would be Timmy. I just know we do damage together. We did it at Florida State and we can do it anywhere.”

Baltimore did, however, take a few guys on the offensive side of the ball later in the draft. The Ravens used its 99th overall pick in the third round on Colorado State’s Crockett Gilmore, a 6-foot-6, 260 pound dual-threat tight end who can stretch the field as a big receiver and block during run plays. They also drafted Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro with the No. 138th overall pick in the fourth round. At 6-fooot-2, 230 pounds, Taliaferro is a big, hard-nose running back who was named the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,729 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2013. He will add depth at the running back position.

The Ravens also added depth to their offensive line, selecting Penn State center John Urschel with the 175th pick in the fifth round. Urschel earned the Campbell Trophy last year, awarded to the nation’s top scholar athlete. The center position is one of the most intellectually challenging positions in football, and Urschel definitely has the smarts to meet the challenge. According to the Baltimore Ravens media relations, Urschel earned his Masters in mathematics with a 4.0 grade point average last year and taught undergrad courses in analytical geometry and integral vector calculus trigonometry while playing football for Penn State last season.

Baltimore used its sixth round pick on a back-up quarterback, Keith Wenning (Ball State), and drafted a slot receiver, Michael Campanaro of Wake Forest, in the seventh and final round of the draft. Campanaro is a native of Clarksville, Md., where his River Hill High School team won two state football titles.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor