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Sitting beside big-bodied linebacker Courtney Upshaw, tackle Kelichi Osemele and running back Bernard Pierce on Saturday, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh saw a trend.
Harbaugh’s Ravens have long had a “rough, tough” persona.
But in order to remain a bully in the rough-and-tumble AFC North, you’ve got to replenish the corps.
Baltimore did just that in the 2012 NFL Draft, adding several thumpers on both sides of the ball.
“There is a theme to our draft right now,” Harbaugh said. “We think that they fit our personality. They are tough, physical, hard-nosed, rough, tough kind of guys.”
Upshaw, is a 6-foot-1, 273-pounder who is a wrecking ball off the edge. He’s extremely physical with offensive tackles and tight ends.
Upshaw said he’s always been that way. He remembers being a skinny kid playing defensive back and still flying in lowering his shoulder.
“I love that part of the game,” the Alabama product said. “I feel that’s the best part of the game, that physical part of it.”
On size alone, Osemele is a player who can dominate his opponent. He’s 6-foot-5, 333 pounds with huge hands and long arms. Some pundits discredited Osemele for his tenacity, but the offensive lineman has a much different take.
“I feel like I bring a lot of competitiveness and physicality and aggressiveness to this team,” Osemele said minutes after being selected in the second round.
The 6-foot, 218-pound Pierce is projected to be the big-bodied backup behind Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice. With the retirement of Ricky Williams this offseason, and loss of Willis McGahee the year prior, Baltimore could use more help in short-yardage situations.
“I’d say third-and-1, fourth [down], that’s a mindset,” Pierce said. “You have to believe and you have to know that nobody can stop you in those situations. I feel as though if you want to stop me, you’re really going to have to hit me.”
Baltimore didn’t stop there.
Fourth-round guard/center Gino Gradkowski is know for his grittiness inside. The Ravens envision a strong special teams addition in fourth-round safety Christian Thompson. Baltimore added Georgia run-stuffing defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson in the seventh round.
“We look at him as a real physical guy, the kind of safety that we like. He will come up and really hit you,” DeCosta said of Thompson.