Finding the Fits: Orlando Brown Jr. more than a legacy in Baltimore

Orlando Brown switched to the right side during Ravens' OTAs.Oklahoma Athletics

By Rob Rang,

This is part of a series -- Finding the Fits -- in which will review the more intriguing picks made during the 2018 NFL Draft. The goal is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and, therefore, more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.

Baltimore Ravens' best fit: Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma, selected No. 83 overall (third round)

From the moment he was selected by the same team for which his late father was a standout right tackle, Orlando Brown Jr. was an obvious fit with the Baltimore Ravens.

Brown's fit with the purple and black is not strictly emotional, however.

Although the Ravens finished with a respectable 27 sacks allowed last season (seventh in the NFL), right tackle is a clear position of need as the club opted to release last year's starter, Austin Howard. Brown was a standout left tackle in each of the past three seasons for the Oklahoma Sooners -- earning unanimous All-America honors last season -- but his 6-foot-8, 345-pound frame and game are better suited to the right side.

You may recall that Brown turned heads for all of the wrong reasons at the 2018 Scouting Combine, posting the worst results in the 40 (5.85 seconds), the bench press (14 repetitions of 225 pounds) and vertical jump (19 1/2 inches) among offensive linemen.

A few poor days doing drills in Indianapolis did not cause Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome to forget that Brown allowed just two sacks in three seasons with the Sooners and often paved the way for a dominant rushing attack.

You may recall that some of Newsome's best picks during his Hall of Fame career were of players (most notably Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Kelechi Osemele) who slipped on draft day due to concerns about their size and/or true athleticism.

Brown wasted little time in making an impression on teammates, earning first-team repetitions at right tackle during the Ravens' recently concluded OTAs.

"He's been working his butt off, trying to learn new techniques, and he's playing a whole new position at right tackle," said 2017 first-round pick and incumbent starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley. "He's working hard. I couldn't ask him to do any more."

Brown won't be handed the starting job, of course. He is competing with veteran James Hurst, who slid inside to start 15 games at left guard a year ago. Hurst was re-signed to a four-year deal following the season but at 6-5, 315 pounds and possessing just average arms (33.5 inches), he might be better suited remaining there with Brown taking his "rightful" spot outside.

Brown's massive size (including 35-inch arms), as well as his surprising balance and agility, make him a very effective (if not always aesthetically pleasing) pass blocker. That is critical for a Ravens squad that finished 29th in passing a year ago, with veteran quarterback Joe Flacco averaging just 189.4 yards per game.

Flacco threw just 18 touchdowns last year, the fewest he's thrown in a full season since his rookie season a decade ago. Better protection on the perimeter should allow the relatively slow-footed Flacco more time to step up into the pocket to take advantage of Baltimore's improved pass-catching corps.

Brown is not just a fit for the Flacco-led Ravens. Whenever quarterback Lamar Jackson's time should come, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner could find running (and passing) lanes that much clearer with Brown leading the flock.

Other thoughts on the Ravens' 2018 draft class:

It will be interesting to see how long Flacco can hold off Jackson as the Ravens' starting quarterback.

It goes without saying that Jackson is about as fundamentally different as a passer and athlete than Flacco, but therein may lie the beauty of Newsome's (and pending general manager Eric DeCosta's) decision to trade up to nab him with the final selection of the first round.

Because Jackson is so different in style from Flacco, the veteran quarterback may not feel the same pressure as he would if the Ravens had drafted a carbon copy of their starter. Flacco is universally praised as one of the real "good guys" in the business. Whereas some veteran quarterbacks balk at the suggestion they should tutor young passers (including some within the AFC North division), Flacco has the personality to handle this role.

Perhaps no head coach in the NFL has a more nurturing, friendly style than John Harbaugh. The combination of the two, along with a run-heavy, TE-strong offense built on play-action passing, could make for the perfect environment for Jackson to continue his development.

Taking Jackson with the 32nd overall selection (rather than trading for the 33rd pick at the beginning of the second round) guarantees that the Ravens hold Jackson's rights for a fifth season, as well.

The Ravens obviously felt that South Carolina's Hayden Hurst was the top all-around tight end in the 2018 draft, making him the only player at the position to be selected in the first round. Few, of course, know the position better than Newsome, and there is plenty to like about Hurst's game, including his soft hands, body control to create separation and breakaway speed.

Late third-round pick and 2018 Mackey Award winner Mark Andrews possesses similar strengths. The decision to double-up at the position could pay huge dividends, given the way that the Ravens feature the tight end.

Last year, veteran Benjamin Watson led the club in receptions (61), tied for the most receiving touchdowns (four) and finished second in receiving yards (522) at 37 years old before opting to leave Baltimore for a new two-year deal from New Orleans, creating significant shoes to fill. Given the number of odd fronts featuring pass-rushing outside linebackers in the AFC North, offenses rightly are asking quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly, often to the tight ends running free down the seams past the rushing linebackers.

It is no coincidence that all four teams in the division feature young talented tight ends, with the Ravens, Bengals and Browns investing first-round picks on the position over the past five years. With several talented tight ends on the roster, Baltimore's passing game should improve in 2018, even if splashy free agent additions at receiver (Michael Crabtree, John Brown) fail to make significant statistical impacts.

It would not be a fitting finale for the retiring Newsome without at least one player selected from his beloved alma mater, Alabama. Day Three picks Anthony Averett and Bradley Bozeman make sense from a human interest and tactical perspective.

With all due respect to Thorpe Award winner and No. 11 overall draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins), Averett was the Crimson Tide's best pure cover corner a year ago and adds depth to an already talented secondary. Bozeman is a battle-tested and versatile blocker with the size and power Newsome has prioritized up front throughout Harbaugh's time in Baltimore.

Baltimore's 2018 draft class:

1st Round, No. 25 overall: TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

1st Round, No. 32 overall: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

3rd Round, No. 83 overall: OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

3rd Round, No. 86 overall: TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

4th Round, No. 118 overall: CB Anthony Averett, Alabama

4th Round, No. 122 overall: LB Kenny Young, UCLA

4th Round, No. 132 overall: WR Jaleel Scott, New Mexico

5th Round, No. 162 overall: WR Jordan Lasley, UCLA

6th Round, No. 190 overall: S DeShon Elliott, Texas

6th Round, No. 212 overall: OT Greg Senat, Wagner

6th Round, No. 215 overall: C Bradley Bozeman, Alabama

7th Round, No. 236 overall: DL Zach Sieler, DL, Ferris State

Key Undrafted Free Agents Signed:

Janarion Grant, WR, Rutgers

Christian LaCouture, DL, LSU

Mark Thompson, RB, Florida


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