The Baltimore Ravens have selected a future Pro-Bowler in the fourth round of an NFL draft before, and general manager Eric DeCosta believes the team has done it again.
DeCosta compared 2023 fourth-round pick Tavius Robinson to three-time Pro Bowl edge-rusher Za’Darius Smith, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
Smith played four years for the Ravens after being drafted in the fourth round back in 2015. He was the 122nd player taken and Robinson came off the board two picks later this year.
If the former Ole Miss standout even comes close to matching Smith’s production, the Ravens will have bolstered a key position that remains threadbare ahead of the new season.
Ravens 4th-Rounder Has Tough Act to Follow
Smith may not have hit his Pro Bowl stride until he left the Ravens for the Green Bay Packers in 2019, but he still established himself as a game-wrecker at the pro level. He’d amassed 20.5 sacks during four seasons at M&T Bank Stadium while also showcasing the versatility to create pressure either from the edge or lined up inside.
His best season with the Ravens was his last in purple and black, when Smith compiled 8.5 sacks to go with 35 pressures, 12 hurries and 13 quarterback knockdowns, per Pro Football Reference.
Smith remained in such good standing with the Ravens DeCosta tried to bring him back during 2022 free agency. Unfortunately, the player “ultimately turned down” a four-year deal after his return seemed all but assured, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Smith is a free agent after his single season with the Minnesota Vikings, but the Ravens were never going to be players for his services. Not after handing wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. a lucrative one-year contract and agreeing a record-breaking deal with quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Instead, the Ravens went looking to draft the next Smith and found Robinson, whose statistics at Ole Miss indicate he could be just as productive. Robinson logged six sacks, seven tackles for loss and forced four fumbles during his senior year with the Rebels, including this strip-sack against Texas Tech.
Splash plays like this are what the Ravens need more of from their edge rushers.
Ravens Need More From Pass Rushers
Justin Houston led the Ravens with 9.5 sacks last season, but the 34-year-old remains a free agent. Houston has been carrying the load in the winter of his career because the other edge-rushers on the roster have struggled to stay healthy and be consistent.
Odafe Oweh has recorded just eight sacks since being drafted in the first round in 2021. Meanwhile, 2022 second-round pick David Ojabo played in only three games as a rookie after tearing his Achilles at Michigan’s pro day.
Ojabo has the potential to dominate, while Oweh has room to improve, but the Ravens still need a difference-maker on the edge. Robinson should be a matchup problem given his length at 6-foot-7, while the 245-pounder often plays bigger than his bulk.
The native of Guelph, Ontario showcased all of those traits for this sack against Georgia Tech.
If Robinson can translate his core physical tools to the pro level, he’ll be in a great position to play himself into a significant role where the Ravens most need help on defense.