You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Ravens draft picks Brandon Williams, Ryan Jensen and Aaron Mellette. For that matter, you can be forgiven if you’ve never even heard of the schools they attended.
Baltimore drafted Williams out of Missouri Southern State, Jensen out of Colorado State University at Pueblo and Mellette out of Elon. Throw in Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk, and the Ravens dug deeper beyond big-time college football than any team in the draft this year. Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta says that’s all about the team’s continuing efforts to find the best players in the draft, no matter how far they have to go to look.
“For a long time we didn’t draft any small school guys, or a very, very few,” DeCosta told the team’s website. “In the last couple of years we have drafted more. I think one of the reasons is because we really draft best available player.”
Williams, a third-round pick, was the only Division II player selected in the first two days of this year’s NFL draft. But Williams, who was chosen as the defensive player of the year in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association last year, says he has never had any doubt that he could play with the best.
“I always knew I could play at that talent and level,” Williams said. “I just had to prove to the NFL that I could do it. I always believe in myself every step of the way.”
The Ravens are now giving him the chance to prove it.