OWINGS MILLS, Md. - On the third day of the NFL draft, the Baltimore Ravens gambled that a former hockey player and a small-school running back would be able to contribute in 2014.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome selected Virginia defensive lineman Brent Urban and Coastal Carolina running back Lorezno Taliaferro in the fourth round Saturday.
Both were compensatory picks, at Nos. 134 and 138 overall. Baltimore traded away its fourth-round selection to Jacksonville last year in the deal that landed offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.
After using four of his first five picks on defensive players, Newsome snagged Taliaferro before taking Penn State guard John Urschel in the fifth round.
The 6-foot-7, 298-pound Urban had 40 tackles in eight games last year with the Cavaliers, missing time with a high ankle sprain.
Drafted 15th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before his senior season at Virginia, the Canadian-born Urban quit hockey around the age of 16 after realizing his body was better suited for football.
"I was definitely the biggest guy and I'd get a lot of penalties that a smaller guy wouldn't have gotten," he said. "So it was right about that time that I decided to switch over."
Although Urban didn't take up football until high school and was slowed by injury last year, he displayed enough raw talent at Virginia to convince the Ravens to take a chance.
"He has the physical traits in terms of the burst, the speed and the quickness," said Joe Hortiz, director of college scouting for the Ravens. "He is going to have to develop his hand playing and his pad level. But the potential is there to you an inside pass rush presence."
Earlier in the draft, the Ravens selected Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round before taking nose guard Timmy Jernigan and strong safety Terrence Brooks, who were teammates at Florida State.
Clearly, Baltimore is intent upon improving a defense that finished 12th in the league last year. Urban can provide help on the outside, while Mosley and Jernigan offer stability inside.
"It's important to be strong up the middle," coach John Harbaugh said. "You'd like to say it's important to be strong on the edges, too."
Taliaferro rushed for 1,729 yards and scored 27 touchdowns last season before finishing his college career by playing in the Senior Bowl.
The 6-foot, 230-pound Taliaferro has sure hands and is expected to back up Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.
"When you factor in his running and receiving ability and pass protection as well as special teams value, that's what you really want to get out of a third-day back," Hortiz said.
Urschel was a defensive tackle in high school before coming to Penn State. The 6-3, 313-pounder was twice named to the All-Big Ten Conference first team.
He won the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the nation's premier college football scholar-athlete.