Five NFL Draft questions that may have shaped the Ravens’ first round

Five NFL Draft questions that may have shaped the Ravens' first round

Five NFL Draft questions that may have shaped the Ravens' first round

The Ravens have made the top 15 just once since 2006, so they will start Thursday night in an unfamiliar position, sitting in the number 14 slot of a potentially chaotic draft.

Yet they will be subject to the whims of owners and general managers elsewhere as the top half of the first round takes shape. In a year without a franchise quarterback or consensus top prospect, secrets abound. Here’s a look at five broad questions that may determine the Ravens’ choices.

What players or positions should the Ravens focus on to go early?

Any quarterback selected in the top 13 would be a gift to the Ravens, as it would increase the chances of a top-level edge rusher, cornerback or offensive tackle falling to No. Most mock drafters believe a team, whether it’s the Carolina Panthers will land at No. 6 overall or a Dark Horse, Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh or Malik Willis of Liberty. The Ravens will be disappointed if a team doesn’t. Could they be lucky enough to have two quarterbacks come off the board before they picked up? It’s not impossible, but teams don’t seem motivated enough to trade or give up a better value to take the risk in the most critical of the game.

Wide receivers will present more interesting and practical questions for the Ravens, who are unlikely to draft a pass catcher after using their first choice in 2019 and 2021. Analysts do not see a guaranteed superstar in this receiver class but see six or seven players as very good first-round values.

The Ravens would love it if the teams began to beat and snap receivers in the 8-to-12 range, as NBC’s Peter King predicted in his mock draft. For one thing, a run like this will tackle those top edge rushers, cornerbacks, and under the board. For another, it could give the Ravens more flexibility to trade if they so choose. What if a team like the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints or Kansas City Chiefs is hot for an elite receiver like Alabama’s Jameson Williams or Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson to reach number 14? There are many good options wherever the Ravens are choosing, and the wide receiver could be the key to achieving this kind of plum status in 2022.

How could the business shape the Ravens’ first-round outlook?

For now, the first 13 overall selections have been split into 10 teams, with the New York Jets and New York Giants set to double-dip. But it doesn’t look like the draft order will remain unchanged until the Ravens are on the clock.

The Jets, who are expected to address their defense with No. 4 and 10 overall picks, have reportedly shown interest in acquiring San Francisco wide receiver Dibo Samuel. A draft day trade would require at least one first-round pick, which the 49ers could earmark for a top receiver—a break for the Ravens.

9 for the overall defensive standout, the prospect of the Ravens — especially LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and Oregon Edge rusher Kywan Thibodaux — are reportedly open to going down. Depending on who swoops in, it could help the Ravens margin for error at No.

The Houston Texans who picked up just before the Ravens are also open for business. Houston general manager Nick Casario told NFL Network that there was only a 50% to 60% chance that the Texans would use their No. 13 overall pick, although the team could go up or down. If the Ravens are looking to jump a spot in the line and secure their top available prospect before the talent-hungry Texans grab him, it may cost no more than a fourth-round pick to general manager Eric DeCosta.

Will an unexpected draft help or hurt the Ravens?

They are at the root of the chaos, as the best talent in the position they need before picking No. 14 on the chalkier draft board. The Ravens do not believe in zeroing out a player. They have promoted the “best available” philosophy since their first draft in Baltimore in 1996. So there are a lot of scenarios they would be happy with.

That said, we know the Ravens need an edge rusher, and we know they need depth at cornerbacks and offensive tackle. These are expected to dominate the upper half of the first round. It is entirely possible that the top four edge rushers, the top three tackles and the top two cornerbacks will go off the board in the first 13 picks. This would not be ideal for DeCosta, although solid options such as Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning and Washington cornerback Trent McDuffy would still be available.

But would the Ravens love it if, on Thursday night, we’re all looking wide-eyed at an unexpected quarterback pick or four wide receivers race in the Top 10? Of course they will.

Will there be a run on Edge Rushers before the Ravens have a chance to pick one?

DeCosta made the same prediction at the Ravens’ predraft news conference. “Usually, those guys go fast,” he said. “We think those guys will race, probably in the top 10.” One or two numbers can choose 14, he said.

Georgia defensive end Travan Walker, once considered a substitute for the Ravens, is now the No. 1 favorite overall. If it’s not him, it’ll probably be Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson. The two who may fall are Thibodaux, a top-five talent who has answered questions about his devotion to football, and Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II, a stout run defender and athletic pass rusher.

We’ve looked at all the projections for these guys in the top 20. Could DeCosta be tempted to move on if a player gifted as Thibodeaux falls within certain locations of the Ravens pick? They acknowledge how difficult it is to find pass rushers in draft and free agency, so we can’t rule it out. But if Walker, Hutchinson, Thibodaux and Johnson drop off the board in the top 13, the Ravens will be left to consider Purdue’s George Karloftis, a powerful, high-effort pass rusher who can fight against runs. Can’t live up to your standards. Or they can wait for another day.

Which teams can trade-back partners with the Ravens?

The Dallas Cowboys, who have the No. 24 overall pick, are reportedly looking to move up and have Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross (a predicted top-10 pick), Southern California wide receiver Drake London (a projected top-15 pick). pickup) can be targeted. ) or Northern Iowa Penning (a projected top-20 pick). Will the number 24 and 56 picks be enough to drive the Ravens away from number 14?

The Ravens’ phone may also ring in a report linking the Philadelphia Eagles to Alabama’s Williams at number 15. Take, for example, Green Bay, which picks twice (numbers 22 and 28) in the first round and twice (numbers 53 and 59) in the second round. If the Packers are wary of a second tier of wide receiver prospects, could they look to package first- and second-round picks for a chance to draft Williams as their replacement for Davante Adams?

In the AFC, Pittsburgh and Kansas City could test the Ravens’ willingness to make a deal. The Steelers are in the market for a new starting quarterback; If they ants 20th overall, will the Ravens help them move up? Meanwhile, the Chiefs need a wide receiver assist after being traded away from Tyrek Hill for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Could last year’s Orlando Browns Jr trade pave the way for another high-impact deal between AFC contenders?