Ravens sign former Terps, River Hill safety Beau Brade as undrafted free agent

Apr. 27—When Beau Brade walked into his first defensive backs meeting at Maryland in 2020, the vanguard leading the depth chart featured junior Jakorian Bennett, sophomores Nick Cross and Deonte Banks and freshman Tarheeb Still. Year over year, each of those three left College Park to hear their name called in the NFL draft.

Brade surprisingly wasn't picked this weekend despite being ranked No. 143 overall on the consensus big board, but he'll still get a chance to join his former teammates in the NFL. The Ravens signed Brade as an undrafted free agent, the Maryland football team announced on X, formerly Twitter.

With the Ravens in need of a third safety behind Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams after the departure of Geno Stone in free agency, Brade will have a chance to make the 53-man roster. The Ravens also drafted Purdue safety Sanoussi Kane in the seventh round on Saturday.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun before the draft, Brade said he grew up a Ravens fan and learned the game while studying Ray Lewis, the Ravens' Hall of Fame middle linebacker.

"I grew up a Ray fan," Brade said. "He was that guy I tried to be so I tried to hit people hard like Ray Lewis, and I had that work ethic too."

It wasn't until the stars in front of him began to graduate that Brade got his shot. He played in five games as a freshman, largely on special teams. Brade then appeared in 12 of 13 contests as a sophomore before stepping into a starting role for all 13 games as a junior, when he finished with a team-high 85 tackles (55 solo).

He led the Terps in tackles again as a senior with 75 total and 48 solo. His six pass breakups were the team's second most, rounded out by four tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.

"We all got the same mindset," Brade told reporters at the NFL scouting combine of his Maryland predecessors. "That's just, whoever lines up against us is gonna get the work. We feel like we're dogs and nobody can beat us. I feel like our mentality is really what created us to be what we're gonna be in the future."

Brade carved his own path, in part by growing alongside five future pros (Jordan Mosley was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022). He also ingested a variety of coaching perspectives, having played under three defensive coordinators while at Maryland. Where it was harder to foster strong coach-player relationships, he said, "I feel like in the long run it made me better."

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Schematics largely remained the same but the playbook terminology was an ever-evolving piece under rotating leadership. Brade said that gave him a leg up when meeting with scouts and teams. It was a particular advantage at this year's Senior Bowl.

The 6-foot, 203-pound wrecking ball ranked 14th among safeties at the NFL scouting combine in production score, according to Next Gen Stats. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, a tick slower than the average NFL starter at his position.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein envisions Brade as a steady and capable backup safety.

"Brade offers some dual-safety qualities and can align as a split safety or near the line of scrimmage for best results," Zierlein wrote. "He can be a disruptive add-on defender in the box, but he doesn't possess an enforcer's power as a hitter. Brade is fairly average in run support by NFL standards, but he's capable. While his eyes and instincts are nothing special in coverage, he does play with good ball skills when it comes time to challenge the throw."

Scouts laud Brade's aggressiveness in disrupting ball carriers and exceptional closing speed. He's become known for his tackling technique and grip strength, as well as his fluidity both in the box and in deep coverage.

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Long before getting the call from an NFL team, the three-star prospect made 450 career tackles at River Hill, which ranked second in Howard County history. He eclipsed at least 107 each season, including 126 as a junior. And he broke the school record for tackle assists (184).

Brade was a dynamite two-way player for the Hawks, earning 2019 Howard County Defensive Player of the Year honors and being named a two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection.

He finished seventh in the league in rushing yards as a senior with 652, complemented by five touchdowns on 89 carries. That wrapped up a four-year stat line of 169 carries for 1,145 yards and eight touchdowns.

Seventeen other schools recruited Brade out of River Hill, including North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Michigan. Maryland's business school and proximity to home ultimately swayed his decision. Then-second-year coach Mike Locksley and his staff originally thought to flip Brade to running back before allowing him to play his natural position at safety.

Brade committed to a program coming off a three-win season and then was part of a turnaround that included three bowl victories in as many years — a first in program history.

His name is etched into the Howard County record books. He was part of a revitalized program at College Park. Now, he'll have the chance to make his mark at football's highest level.