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But in the eyes of Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, it’s too early to tell.
“I think people are very fickle about their grades,” DeCosta said Thursday, not specifically referring to Kiper.
“It’s a long-term thing. And honestly, we don’t draft every single player thinking he’s going to contribute right away. Sometimes it’s two, three years down the road.”
The Ravens’ 2010 class, in order, was outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, nose tackle Terrence Cody, tight end Ed Dickson, tight end Dennis Pitta, wide receiver David Reed, defensive tackle Arthur Jones and tackle Ramon Harewood.
It was in large part held back by injuries and a lack of playing opportunities due to the Ravens’ roster depth.
Kindle spent the season on the sidelines after suffering a preseason head injury. As no fault of the Ravens’, he’s the biggest question mark of the class thus far.
Cody missed three games early, but subbed into the defensive line more as the season went on and finished with 13 tackles.
“We drafted Terrence Cody not necessarily for what Terrence could do this year, but honestly more for what he’s going to do next year and the year after,” DeCosta said.
Dickson probably saw the most time of any rookie. He was a special teams contributor and stepped up as a part-time starter when Todd Heap missed three games due to a hamstring injury. Dickson had 11 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown.
“I don’t think you can look at Dickson’s lack of production and say, ‘Well he’s not what they thought he was going to be,’” DeCosta said. “We had Todd Heap. The guy caught 60 passes and was arguable a Pro Bowl-type guy for us. When you’ve got a guy like that, it’s going to be hard for someone else to play.”
Pitta, who missed five regular-season games and both postseason contests due to two concussions, finished with one reception.
Reed made his mark on special teams and was the NFL’s leading kick returner in yards averaged per return. He finished the year on the inactive list due to a wrist injury.
Jones was active for two games and had no tackles. Harewood spent the year on Injured Reserve due to a knee injury.
“You grade it for the short term, you grade if for the long term,” DeCosta said. “If you’re grading Arthur Jones right now, you have to say, ‘Well, he didn’t do anything.’ But if he’s starting next year you’ll say, ‘He’s a great pick.’”
There’s been a history of late-bloomers such as 2003 fourth-round pick Jarret Johnson, who started just one game in his first two years but has rounded into a defensive anchor. Guard Chris Chester and defensive end Dwan Edwards also took a little time to become starters.
Then there’s players such as wide receiver/specialist Yamon Figurs, who drew acclaim after his rookie year but didn’t make the Ravens’ cut two years later and has since bounced around the NFL.
In essence, it’s difficult to judge after just one year.
“It just takes time,” DeCosta said. “You’re always grading, alw