For a split second, Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh thought that their worst fears were confirmed — after the Patriots worked out a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders to acquire that pick, DeCosta and Harbaugh worried that the best-run franchise in the league might steal their draft pick. After all, that would seem like a very Patriots thing to do.
“Asiasi, UCLA tight end.”
DeCosta and Harbaugh breathed a sigh and relief and made their selection at No. 92 — Texas Longhorns wide receiver Devin Duvernay, a player they targeted after DeCosta identified him as one of his favorite players in the entire draft.
“We were all stunned that they would take our Devin, but they took their Devin and so it worked out for us,” DeCosta said.
Harbaugh’s celebration put into perspective just how much the Ravens wanted Duvernay and how relieved he was that Baltimore got “their Devin.”
Why did Baltimore covet Duvernay so highly? All the same reasons that made him a breakout sensation for the Longhorns in 2019 with one of the best seasons by a wide receiver in school history.
“Well he’s an explosive guy — he’s really, really fast,” DeCosta said. “He’s a highly-competitive guy with strong hands. I don’t think I saw a drop this year and he had over 100 catches. He’s really good with the football in his hands; he’s a guy that can break tackles. He runs with an angry style. We think he’s highly competitive. He’s just a guy that, as I watched his tape, I got excited about him and his potential for us.
“He’s the type of guy that when you watch him play — players in general, typically if you watch enough tape, you get a vibe about them. There’s a vibe that they sort of emit. And I would say with Devin, he’s an angry football player. I like his style of play, I like his energy, I like his competitive spirit, I like his toughness and I like his speed. I think those things translate to Baltimore really well. I think he’s a good fit for who we are, and I think he’s going to be a guy that’s going to help us.”
If that wasn’t high enough praise for Duvernay, DeCosta went on to compare him to some of the toughest, most productive receivers in franchise history like Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin.
“That’s what I see when I watch a guy like Devin, I see some of those same things,” DeCosta said. “Now their styles might be different, the skills might be different, but the mentality that I see, the effort, the drive, the determination, the competitive toughness, to me that reminds me of those guys.”
For Duvernay, the moment was “surreal” — the culmination of a lifetime of work and the result of difficult decisions like sticking it out at Texas instead of transferring after only catching nine passes for 124 yards in 2017, the first season under head coach Tom Herman and his staff in Austin.
“You get a little antsy waiting around and then you get a phone call and it’s so exciting,” Duvernay said. “They tell you the business and it feels like a bunch of weight off your shoulders. I could barely talk and get words out. I was just super excited.”
Consider it a strong match, then. Not only are the Ravens a rising franchise, but the selection of Duvernay will pair him with three Texas exes in Earl Thomas, Justin Tucker, and former teammate DeShon Elliott.
“It’s perfect,” Duvernay said. “I loved that about it, especially DeShon since I played with him and am good friends with him. We relate really well. Having people I can rely on for advice and talk to and not go into it not knowing anybody, I’m happy I’m going somewhere with a former teammate, especially.”
In drafting Duvernay, Baltimore added a deep threat with blazing speed who also has the hands and separation ability to serve as a security blanket for quarterback Lamar Jackson, who solidified himself as one of the NFL’s most electric players in 2019. But Duvernay wasn’t the only addition to the offense, as Baltimore also drafted another Texan, Ohio State running back JK Dobbins, who will provide another explosive element to the Ravens offense.
“It’s a dream come true,” Duvernay said. “I’ve just been sitting back and reflecting on all the hard work I’ve done and I’ve just been reminiscing. I don’t even know what to say, but I’m so happy where I am and can’t believe I’ve gotten this far, but I’m going to keep working.”