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After getting speed, Ravens fill needs

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After drafting speed receiver Breshad Perriman from Central Florida in the first round as a replacement for free agency casualty Torrey Smith, the Baltimore Ravens began filling other needs.

The Ravens have wanted to bolster their backfield for months.

They believe they accomplished that goal Saturday when they drafted USC running back Buck Allen in the fourth round.

Allen will work in tandem with veteran runner Justin Forsett. Allen is a 6-foot, 221-pounder with 4.53 speed in the 40-yard dash. He has a 35 1/2 inch vertical leap.

“He’s big, he’s got good speed, he’s physical,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. “He’s a guy who can run a zone scheme, he has excellent hands He’s a very versatile guy. Again, we get good information out of there, we feel very good about the kid, we like his skill set. We think he comes in and competes with Lorenzo and Justin and the other guys. It’s exciting to have him.

Known as a north-south downhill runner, one draft publication compared him to former Ravens running back Bernard Pierce.

Allen isn’t flashy, but rushed for 1,489 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He caught 41 passes for 458 yards and one touchdown last season while playing through a shoulder injury.

“A dream come true,” Allen said during a conference call. “As a little kid, this is always a dream to play in the NFL. I know when it all calms down I’m going to tear up and cry and think about all the stuff me and my family went through to get to this point. It’s a blessing.”

Allen had six career fumbles in 480 touches and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

In 2013, he rushed for 785 yards and 14 touchdowns with 22 catches for 252 yards and one touchdown.

“We like his athleticism,” offensive coordinato Marc Trestman said. “We like his size. He’s very good inside and outside. He can catch the football. He’s a good blocker. We were very excited to have the opportunity to get Buck when we did. There were some very, very good backs, but he was our top guy coming into [final day].

–The Ravens drafted Texas Southern sleeper cornerback Tray Walker in the fourth round, probably based from what they liked after he visited the team. Walker was regarded as an emerging draft prospect after not being invited to the NFL scouting combine, but performing well at the NFL super regional combine.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound press corner also visited the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. Walker had private workouts with the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans.

Walker’s only scholarship offer out of high school was Texas Southern.

“I was told I had the longest wingspan of all the corners that came out this year,” Walker said. “I’m just blessed. I’m really overwhelmed right now. I really can’t think right now. But as far as that question, I can redirect receivers really well. I can play up, I can play off. I’m able to do a lot of things that most corners can’t do. I’m going to try and leave a legacy in Baltimore.

“I was not highly-recruited. I was overlooked. I was recruited as a safety. That was my only option so I took it and made the best of it.”

Walker has run the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. He also has a 36 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 10-7 broad jump, a 4.05 short shuttle and a 6.7 three-cone drill.

He played in every game last season and intercepted four passes. He has seven interceptions over the past three seasons.

The Ravens took notice of Walker at the College Gridiron Showcase. They sent cornerbacks coach Matt Weiss to work out Walker privately.

“Our scouts that were down there came back and were raving about his performance down there every day, interceptions in practice, his size, his length,” Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. “So we had an opportunity to send Matt down there, work him out at a private workout and the reviews coming back were just outstanding.

“Obviously, his film at Texas Southern is not great competition and he’s a raw athlete but when you watch the workout, watch it on tape, you see all the skills, plus the size length and speed, it’s really intriguing.”

–The Ravens brought in tight end Maxx Williams to their training complex Saturday for an introductory press conference.

Williams was a second round pick, No. 55 overall, from Minnesota.

Trestman said that he expects Williams to have a major role in the offense catching passes from quarterback Joe Flacco.

“Joe likes tight ends, he likes to have a big bodied guy in the middle of the field,” Trestman said. “When you have tight ends in the game, it really applies to your run game and your pass game because when you have tight ends in, you can keep base personnel in the game, you can get away from a lot of the complicated nickel packages that teams play and you force them to defend the run and it allows you to move people around and help yourself in coverages in the passing game.”

–The Ravens went big in the sixth round, picking imposing Georgia Tech wide receiver Darren Waller.

Waller is a huge, athletic red-zone and fade target.

Waller is 6-foot-6, 238 pounds with 4.46 speed in the 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical leap. He bench pressed 225 pounds 12 times at the NFL scouting combine. He had a 10-5 broad jump.

Waller has 33 1/4 arm length and 9-inch hands.

Waller was suspended for the season opener each of the past two seasons and served a total of two games of suspensions for violating team rules.

Hortiz said that he talked with Waller about his rule violations and came away comfortable with his explanation about what happened. Hortiz declined to detail the incident.

He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine all-star game.

Last season, he scored touchdowns in each of his final three games.

He caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in an Orange Bowl win over Mississippi State.

Waller was a two-year team captain in high school, playing both wide receiver and defensive back.

Waller is regarded as an unpolished route runner who needs to improve his understanding of the game. He wasn’t very productive, catching 51 career passes for 971 yards and nine touchdowns.

Waller caught 26 passes for 442 yards and six touchdowns last season.

As a junior, Waller caught 17 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns.

A closer look at the Ravens’ picks:

–Round 1/26 — Breshad Perriman, WR, 6-2, 212, Central Florida

The Ravens have effectively replaced Torrey Smith with a big, fast downfield target who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds.

–Round 2/55 -Maxx Williams, TE, 6-4, 250, Minnesota

Williams has drawn comparisons to Jason Witten and Kyle Rudolph. The Ravens traded up to acquire a long-term replacement for Dennis Pitta. Williams should start immediately and upgrade the Ravens in the red zone.

–Round 3/90 — Carl Davis, DT, 6-4, 320, Iowa

This is a nice value pick for the Ravens. He has great size-speed ratio and has a nasty streak when properly motivated.

–Round 4/122 — Za’Darius Smith, OLB, 6-4, 274, Kentucky

Smith was the Most Valuable Player in the East-West Shrine all-star game. He’s an edge-setter who has similar traits to former Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee.

–Round 4/125 — Buck Allen, RB, 6-0, 221, USC

Allen is a one-cut, downhill runner with excellent hands out of the backfield. Allen should provide a nice complementary presence working in tandem with veteran runner Justin Forsett.

–Round 4/136 — Tray Walker, CB, 6-2, 180, Texas Southern

Walker has good press coverage skills, but is fairly raw and didn’t face top competition. Walker was lightly recruited out of high school. Texas Southern was his only scholarship offer.

–Round 5/171 – Nick Boyle, TE, 6-4, 268, Delaware

Boyle is a classic blocking tight end. He played well at the Senior Bowl and should be a good fit with Marc Trestman’s tight end friendly offense.

–Round 5/176 – Robert Myers, G, 6-5, 330, Tennessee State

Myers shined in the Senior Bowl before injuring his foot. Healthy now, Myers has limited mobility. However, he has sound technique and has upside. He’s a nice developmental project for veteran line coach Juan Castillo to work with.

–Round 6/204 – Darren Waller, WR, 6-6, 238, Georgia Tech

Waller is a huge target, but is very raw. He played in a run-oriented offense. He could possibly project to tight end. Waller has good speed and ball skills.


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