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If Calvin Ridley Is Gone, What Receiver Could Ravens Draft at 16? Mel Kiper Says 'Nobody'

Posted Jan 19, 2018

In his first mock draft, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper projects the Ravens to take Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O'Neill in the first round. Kiper tried to fit a playmaker, but couldn't make it work.

Kiper knows Baltimore needs playmakers at the offensive skill positions, and he tried to fit one with the Ravens at pick No. 16.

Only problem is he had the draft’s top wide receiver – Alabama’s Calvin Ridley – off the board at No. 8. So if Ridley is gone, who’s the playmaker there for the Ravens?

“That was the problem I ran into. Nobody,” Kiper said. “I just didn’t see anybody worthy of being the 16th pick at wide receiver to give them – or at tight end.”

Kiper has Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk going at No. 26 and Southern Methodist wide receiver Courtland Sutton at No. 27. He projects Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews at No. 29.

That’s a gap of 18 picks between offensive playmakers, and the Ravens fall squarely in the middle.

Of course, much will change between now and the time Baltimore is on the clock on April 26. Other draftniks project Sutton as a top-10 pick, and Oklahoma State wide receivers James Washington and teammate Marcel Ateman could also be first-round picks.

Without an offensive playmaker, Kiper instead projected Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O’Neill to the Ravens at No. 16. The pick would provide a potential first-year starter at tackle or guard.

“Right tackle Austin Howard didn't have a great year in pass protection, and the Ravens could find an immediate upgrade with O'Neill,” Kiper wrote. “He was dominant on the left side at times this season after starting on the right in 2015 and 2016.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Howard gave up three sacks, seven quarterback hits and 25 hurries in 16 starts this season. As a unit, only six teams gave up fewer sacks than the Ravens offensive line.

O’Neill not only played well as a blocker, but scored two touchdowns on three career carries. He got into the end zone from 24 and 5 yards out. He’s a former tight end who put on weight to move to tackle, but still maintained his athleticism.

“He’s a former tight end, which I love,” Kiper said. “I love the feet and athletic ability of guys like that to go from tight end to offensive tackle, and he had a great year.”

O’Neill isn’t the offensive playmaker Ravens fans likely had in mind, but still a very good player who could help the offense, just in a different way.

“O’Neill is a right tackle, he can play guard, he can play anywhere,” Kiper said. “I think the right tackle spot would be upgraded if you bring in Brian O’Neill.”

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