When Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta evaluates each draft class, he looks for the same qualities his mentor did. Ozzie Newsome wanted prospects who “played like a Raven.” So does DeCosta. The best way to discover that nebulous quality is also the most obvious: Turn on the film and watch them play.

“I think the thing we come back to is, first and foremost — and it’s been this way ever since I know I got into the league — it’s really about the tape, how the guy plays, first and foremost,” DeCosta said in 2020.

The Ravens consider everything in their draft evaluations. Medical information, athletic testing, analytical insights and character testimonies help form what DeCosta once called a “big mosaic.” But the front office’s primary focus, DeCosta has said, is whether a prospect can play.

That can make it tough to determine what a Ravens draft pick looks like, but it’s not impossible. Ahead of the start of the NFL draft, we reviewed biographical information, predraft measurables and statistical profiles of DeCosta’s draft picks from the past decade to decode what, exactly, goes into playing like a Raven. Several preferences in their overall draft strategy emerged, as did key traits at certain positions.

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How the Ravens build their roster

What goes into the makeup of a typical Ravens pick? After an evaluation of news reports, player biographies and other sources, here are seven recurring traits for players drafted since 2014, ranked from most to least prevalent.

Multisport athlete: 90.1% of the Ravens’ picks, including every first-round pick, played a sport besides football in high school or as a teenager. Sports ranged from basketball (safety Kyle Hamilton) to wrestling (center Tyler Linderbaum) to baseball (inside linebacker Patrick Queen) to track and field (cornerback Marlon Humphrey).

Power Five background: 73.6% of the Ravens’ picks played for a school in a so-called Power Five conference: the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference. (That includes cornerback Brandon Stephens, who finished his career at SMU after starting at UCLA.) The Ravens have leaned heavily on Power Five schools since 2019, taking 39 of 43 players from those leagues in that span.

Limited medical concerns: 76.9% of the Ravens’ picks did not have recurring, significant or potentially degenerative injuries during their college careers. While the Ravens have largely avoided spending top picks on players with medical red flags, their first-round selections with injury concerns have generally stayed healthy. Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown suffered a Lisfranc (foot) injury in college that required surgery but played 16 games in his second and third seasons in Baltimore. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, meanwhile, entered the draft with durability concerns but started 77 games over five seasons with the Ravens.

Senior Bowl nod: 49.5% of the Ravens’ picks were invited to or participated in the Senior Bowl. (Until this winter’s Senior Bowl, only seniors and fourth-year juniors who’d completed their undergraduate degrees had been eligible.) Over the past two years, only four of the 14 Ravens picks who were eligible for the Senior Bowl did not participate: wide receiver Zay Flowers, guard Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, and cornerbacks Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams. Of those four, all but Armour-Davis participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl, another draft showcase.

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Team captain: 46.2% of the Ravens’ picks, including their past three first-round picks (Flowers, Hamilton and Linderbaum), were named team captains during their college careers. The Ravens drafted a decade-high seven captains overall in their 11-player 2022 class — defensive lineman Travis Jones, tight end Charlie Kolar, punter Jordan Stout, running back Tyler Badie and Williams were also so honored — and a decade-low one captain in their nine-player 2015 class — tight end Nick Boyle.

Recruiting pedigree: 27.5% of the Ravens’ picks were considered top-250 prospects in high school, according to 247Sports.com’s composite rankings, a range usually reserved for four- and five-star recruits. Only five of their first-round picks were ranked in the top 250: outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, Hamilton, Humphrey and Mosley. Wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Flowers and Brown and tight end Hayden Hurst were either unranked or slotted outside of the top 1,000 prospects.

Youth: 26.4% of the Ravens’ picks were 21 years old or younger when they were drafted. The Ravens have typically targeted younger players in early rounds. Of their 19 first- and second-round picks since 2014, three were only 20 when selected — quarterback Lamar Jackson, Queen and Humphrey — and another 10 were 21 — outside linebacker David Ojabo, wide receiver Rashod Bateman, running back J.K. Dobbins, outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, tight end Maxx Williams, defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan, Hamilton, Brown, Perriman and Mosley.

Elite athletic testing: 20% of the Ravens’ picks had a Relative Athletic Score, which rates a player’s predraft measurables and testing results on a 0-to-10 scale, of at least 9.0. Only four first-round picks graded out in the 90th percentile or higher for their positions: Hamilton, Oweh, Humphrey and Perriman. (Because of a lack of measurables, Jackson and Brown did not qualify for RAS scores.)

How the Ravens build their position rooms

Under DeCosta, the Ravens don’t have many obvious positional archetypes. At quarterback, they replaced Joe Flacco, a traditional pro-style passer, with Jackson, an electric dual threat. Along the offensive line, they’ve invested in gargantuan size (right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.) and rare mobility (Linderbaum). Outside linebackers have been skilled but slow and unrefined but explosive. Cornerbacks have arrived in nearly every shape and size.

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But certain trends under DeCosta have taken shape. Using data from NFL scouting combines and pro days, PFF analyst Arjun Menon recently analyzed the athletic testing averages for the draft picks of every team since 2011. (All of the averages on each tab are weighted by the Fitzgerald-Spielberger draft value of the pick where the player was taken, giving greater value to players taken higher in the draft.)

Although the Ravens haven’t drafted enough players at certain positions to reveal DeCosta’s preferences — if they even exist — they’ve left clues at other spots.

Running back: The Ravens have valued athleticism at the position, ranking 13th in average 40-yard-dash time, 10th in the three-cone drill, 12th in the shuttle run and ninth in the vertical leap. (The three-cone drill and shuttle run measure speed, agility and body control.) In recent years, the Ravens have targeted experienced backs with good ball security. Their four last picks at the position — Tyler Badie, Justice Hill, Kenneth Dixon and Dobbins — all had at least 500 carries in their college careers. Their last five picks, a group that also includes Javorius Allen, combined for just one fumble in their final college season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Wide receiver: Speed and explosiveness have been priorities. The Ravens’ average in the 40 is 4.42 seconds, fourth fastest in the NFL, and their broad-jump average ranks ninth. Unsurprisingly, their picks have tended to be on the smaller side. Ravens wide receivers have been, on average, the fifth lightest and the fourth shortest. There aren’t any clear statistical benchmarks at the position — they’ve picked wideouts with low and high drop rates as well as strong and weak explosive-catch rates — but most of their picks earned at least 20% of their team’s targets in their final college season.

Tight end: More than any obvious athletic traits, the Ravens have coveted high achievers. Charlie Kolar, Isaiah Likely and Mark Andrews all had at least 1,300 receiving yards total over their final two college seasons, while Hurst and Williams both had at least 950 yards over theirs. Kolar, Likely, Hurst and Andrews, their past four picks at the position, also lined up in the slot on at least 40% of their snaps in their final college season, according to PFF.

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Offensive tackle: Ravens tackles have brought beef to Baltimore. With the arrival of players such as Daniel Faalele (6 feet 8, 384 pounds) and Brown (6-8, 345 pounds), the team’s picks rank first at the position in both weight (326.8 pounds) and arm length and third in height (78.5 inches). Explosiveness and agility, meanwhile, have been in short supply; Ravens picks rank last in the vertical leap and a distant last in the broad jump, as well as last in the shuttle run and second to last in the three-cone drill.

Guard: The Ravens’ athletic priorities inside aren’t too different. Their guards are the heaviest (322.2 pounds) and seventh tallest (76.7 inches), but they rank fourth worst in the broad jump, fifth worst in the three-cone drill and seventh worst in the shuttle run. Experience has been a priority along the offensive line, and especially so at guard. Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, Andrew Vorhees, Ben Bredeson, Ben Powers, Bradley Bozeman and Nico Siragusa all played at least 2,000 snaps at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, according to PFF. So did Linderbaum.

Defensive line: On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have sought movement skills upfront, ranking fourth in the 40 and ninth in the three-cone drill. In recent years, they’ve also drafted linemen with pass rush juice. Travis Jones (11.5%), Justin Madubuike (14.9%) and Broderick Washington, their past three picks at the position, all ranked at least average in their class in pass rush win rate, according to PFF.

Edge rusher: The only measurable at the position where the Ravens have been above average is the 40, where they rank 13th. They have not valued the shuttle run (fourth worst) or the vertical leap (fifth worst). On the field, most of their Day 1 and Day 2 picks had at least one standout year as a pass rusher. Jaylon Ferguson, Tim Williams, Oweh, Ojabo and Bowser all posted a season-long pass rush win rate of at least 15% in their career, according to PFF.

Off-ball linebacker: There’s not much of a sample here, because the Ravens haven’t had to take many linebackers over the years. But DeCosta has prioritized straight-line speed. The team ranks fifth in 40 time (4.57 seconds), though its performance in agility testing has been well below average. Ravens linebackers have had the fourth-worst mark in the shuttle run and the seventh-worst showing in the three-cone drill. The average weight of a linebacker, meanwhile, is 235.7 pounds, eighth lightest in the NFL.

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Defensive back: The Ravens have typically drafted bigger players for their secondary. The average height (72.2 inches) and weight (197.7 pounds) of their cornerbacks rank sixth and seventh, respectively, while the average height (72.7 inches) and weight (210 pounds) of their safeties rank sixth and fourth, respectively. At corner, the Ravens have looked for solid marks in the 40 (13th) and shuttle run (12th) but not vertical leap (second worst) or broad jump (third worst). Ravens safeties have also fared poorly in the shuttle run (worst) and three-cone drill (sixth worst).

Finding first-round fits

So what does the Ravens’ draft history suggest about where they could look in the first round Thursday? Here are five prospects linked to the team who check a lot of boxes.

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