The Ravens’ season ended before reaching the playoffs on Sunday. Now their top pick in the April NFL draft may have been years old.
Following a 16:13 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens are ranked 14th overall, their best pick since taking left tackle Ronnie Stanley in 6th. overall in 2016. According to ESPNThe Ravens entered Sunday with just an 8% chance of getting a 14th pick, the highest in their range of opportunities; they were strong favorites (57%) and finished 18th overall.
Since no countervailing draft picks have yet been awarded, the Ravens have seven picks in the preliminary process: No. 14, No. 45 (second round), No. 76 (third round), three picks in the fourth round and one pick in the sixth round. They are entitled to a compensatory third round pick for the Houston Texans hiring former assistant coach David Callie and two mid-round picks for the offseason departure of pass rushers Yannick Ngakowe and Matthew Judon.
But none of the Ravens’ picks this spring will be as closely scrutinized as their first round. Last year, general manager Eric DeCosta took on receiver Rashod Bateman and outside midfielder Odafe Ove in 27th and 31st respectively. Here are five players in need of help who could be targeted in 14th place:
Charles Cross’s attacking takeover of Mississippi: According to Pro Football Focus, after six sacks and 33 specks as a freshman in a red shirt last season, the 6’5 and 310 pounds Cross allowed only two and 14 respectively in 2021. As an athlete, he is strong, lean and explosive. As a competitor, he plays with brute strength in both pass defense and run blocker. Cross played left tackle in college, but he’s promising enough to play right tackle. Given Ronnie Stanley’s injury history, that would be an advantage for the Ravens.
Texas A&M forward Kenyon Green: The 6-4, 325-pound junior has started since he was a real rookie. Equally impressive is that he started everywhere except in the center of the offensive line. The versatile green, an impressive run blocker, acts as the next level defender and could be the Ravens’ answer to the left-back position. But he also showed his potential, starting with a left tackle in Eggie’s unsuccessful win over Alabama. According to the PFF, after sacking off sacks last season and hurrying five times as a quarterback, Green has given up one sack and seven rushes this season.
Georgia Line Back Jordan Davis: It’s hard to miss the 6-6 year old senior weighing 340 pounds. Davis has been the unwavering defender among Georgia’s top defenders this season, and last month he was honored with the Chuck Bednarik Award for the sport’s best defender. In a stop-running defense Ravens would be the natural successor to Brandon Williams in front. However, Davis’s ability to pass-rush is limited. He has three sacks in 14 games this season, but just 15 quarterbacks rush in three years in the starting lineup.
Texas A&M Defender DeMarvin Leal: The 290 lb (6-4) junior finished the season with 58 tackles, the most in the Southeast Conference line-ups, including 12 ½ losing and 8 ½ sacking, all career records. A three-year-old starting lineup with impressive speed and power, Leal has destructive potential as a forward and in-house presence. Aggie’s coach Jimbo Fisher praised him for creating the program’s culture, but Leal was reportedly arrested last month and accused of possession of marijuana…
Cincinnati defender Ahmad Gardner: Sauce, as he is known, has not given up a single touchdown in his college career. The 6-3, 200-pound Gardner has a passing rating of 26.1 this season as a junior, down 40.0 for the third straight year. His impressive physical form and athleticism would fit well with Ravens’ strong cover between men. Even with the signing of a long-term contract with Marlon Humphrey, the defense needs to be reinforced by the full-back. Marcus Peters is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament rupture, and Jimmy Smith and Anthony Averett may have played their last game in Baltimore.
With 14 teams heading into the postseason, here’s what the top of the draft looks like:
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Detroit Lions
- Houston Texans
- New york jets
- New York Giants
- Carolina Panthers
- New York Giants (via Chicago Bears)
- Atlanta Falcons
- Denver Broncos
- New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)
- Washington football team
- Minnesota Vikings
- Cleveland browns
- Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)
- Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts)
- Los angeles chargers
- New Orleans Saints