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Late For Work 5/8: Four Prospects That Could Trigger Ravens Trade

Posted May 8, 2014

Ravens vet that could lose job to rookie. When to pull trigger on a QB. A potential curve ball. Why Mosley?


Four Prospects That Could Trigger Ravens Trade

The Ravens aren’t used to this position.

With the first round of the NFL draft just hours away, the Ravens hold their highest draft pick since 2006 when they selected Haloti Ngata (they traded from No. 8 to eventually No. 18 in 2008).

In fact, Baltimore has had the lowest average draft position (No. 17) over the last five years.  That’s worse than other perennial winners, including the New England Patriots, as can be seen in the CBSSports.com graph below.

Thus, sitting at No. 17, the Ravens have their best chance in the last eight years to truly grab an impact player. But after Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome made it clear last week that he loves draft picks and his phone lines are open to discuss moving back in a trade, we’ve gotten non-stop questions as to whether the Ravens should stay put or move back.

Good question,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec in a fan chat. “On one hand, the Ravens have been picking late in the first round for years now. There's a sense of, 'Well, we finally have a mid first-round pick in a stacked draft, why would we trade back into later in the draft.’ However, the school of thought there is, as you mentioned, the Ravens do have several needs. And the draft has enough depth where normal first-round picks in past years are going to be taken in the second, third round this year. SO the more picks you can get, the better. However, if one of the top players on their board is available at 17, I don't think you can pass him up.”

So who are the top players that the Ravens should stick at 17 to get? Of course, plenty of elite talent will already be gone, but there are four prospects that have a legitimate chance of falling to Baltimore.

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley
Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron

If any one of them is there, Zrebiec says to take him. If they are all gone, go ahead and move back to acquire more draft ammunition.

“I will say this: I think there are four players to watch to see if they fall to 17: Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama LB C.J. Mosley, Notre Dame OT Zack Martin and North Carolina TE Eric Ebron,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “I think all four of those guys will intrigue Ravens but they all could be gone before the Ravens are on the clock.

“It's going to be interesting. I think if none of those four players are available, the Ravens very well could trade back in the first round and pick up another mid- to late-round pick.”

Newsome has a history of maneuvering in the first round. As illustrated in the CBSSports.com graphic below, the Ravens more often than not move back. To interpret the graph: if the green bar is higher than the blue bar, teams are trading down, if the green bar is lower than the blue bar, teams are trading up.

“I love how easy it is to see [Patriots Head Coach Bill] Belichick and Ozzie Newsome trading back (to acquire additional picks, obviously),” wrote CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson.

Ravens Vet That Could Lose Job To Rookie

It’s draft day – the Ravens’ best avenue for improving their roster.

 It’s a day of hope and excitement, but it’s also a day where veterans will watch their future replacements come on board.

“Could Baltimore's draft plans mean trouble for Ray Rice?” asked NFL.com’s Marc Sessler.

Sessler examined which veterans from around the NFL could lose their starting jobs to incoming rookies, and Rice topped his list.

Prior to Rice’s legal woes, the Ravens identified running back as a position they wanted to address this offseason. They have stood by Rice since his arrest, so the need to add talent is greater than that. Head Coach John Harbaugh said just last week in the Ravens’ pre-draft press conference that it is “important we add a running back” along with several other positions.

Many assume a drafted back would bolster depth, but NFL Media's Albert Breer reported last month that Ravens sources “acknowledged” an athlete from the college ranks may need to be their starter.

“It wasn't so long ago that Rice was among the game's premier threats on the ground, but his play declined last season,” Sessler wrote.

Could Rice’s eventual replacement come from Baltimore’s own backyard?

Towson Tigers running back Terrance West ran for 2,519 yards and scored 42 touchdowns last season, setting an FCS record. He has gotten plenty of buzz, but the Ravens have never taken a Baltimore native its 18-year draft history, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

“There's a stronger likelihood that the Ravens will consider West [than fellow Baltimore native cornerback Kyle Fuller],” Hensley wrote. “The Ravens are expected to start looking at running backs in the third and fourth rounds, and West is projected to go in that range.” 

Our own Ryan Mink has West going to the Ravens in the fourth round of his mock draft.

West would certainly make the city proud after overcoming the tough streets of Baltimore and defying odds to become a highly-touted NFL prospect. You can watch his story below in the excellent piece done by Fox Sports Live. West gave his stamp of approval.

“EVERYBODY GO CHECK OUT MY OTHER DOCUMENTARY CLIP. THIS ONE WILL PUT A CHILL THROUGH YOUR BODY,” he tweeted.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Y00w0W0RCBo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

If a West-Ravens paring isn’t in the cards, Henley lists other running backs the Ravens could bring in to compete with Rice and Bernard Pierce for the starting role.

SECOND ROUND 
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Tre Mason, Auburn

THIRD ROUND
Jeremy Hill, LSU
Andre Williams, Boston College
Charles Sims, West Virginia

FOURTH ROUND 
Devonta Freeman, Florida State

FIFTH ROUND 
De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

Don’t count Rice out just yet, however. He is on mission to return to his Pro Bowl form, and you can see the work he is putting in with his personal trainer frequently posting photos and video of Rice’s workouts. He could be primed for a bounce-back season.

“Rice has shed weight and says his hip problems are in the past,” Sessler wrote. “It's too early to write him off, but if the seventh-year runner doesn't shine this offseason, Rice is one of a handful of veterans on offense whose starting job could be threatened by an incoming rookie.”

Final Draft Questions Answered

I’ve seen the same frequently asked questions for the Ravens draft around the Web. Let’s get the top three answered:

Question: Many draftniks have the Ravens taking Mosley in the first round, but why would the Ravens do that when they just signed Daryl Smith to a three-year deal and 2013’s second-round pick Arthur Brown is the next in line?
Answer: “Inside linebacker isn't a glaring need but the Ravens aren't comfortable with that position. That's why they showed so much patience with Rolando McClain,” wrote Hensley. “Let's not forget that Daryl Smith is 32, and Arthur Brown didn't develop as quickly as everyone envisioned. Mosley is a guaranteed starter in 2014 and has Pro Bowl potential. If the Ravens take Mosley, he would start alongside Smith. You keep Arthur Brown because he has upside. … The Ravens have sat second-rounders in the past. Look at Paul Kruger and Chris Chester. Not all second-rounders are like Torrey Smith and Ray Rice. Brown would still have a role on nickel defense and special teams.”

Question: The Ravens are looking for a backup quarterback to compete with Tyrod Taylor. What’s the earliest the brain trust would consider grabbing a signal caller?
Answer: “I still think early third day. Maybe 5th round,” wrote Zrebiec. “Guys like Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech; Keith Wenning of Ball State. Those are probably the type of guys to watch. I'll say this though, if a guy like [Alabama’s A.J.] McCarron or [Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy] Garoppolo falls perhaps to the 4th - which I don't see - that probably would be tempting for them.” Additionally, The Sun’s Aaron Wilson is reporting the Ravens have “performed their due diligence” with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is projected to go in the third or fourth round.

Question: Will the Ravens throw a curve ball and draft a cornerback in Round 1?
Answer: “Listen to what Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said about cornerbacks at the team’s pre-draft press conference,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown. “While the Ravens have two solid corners in Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, they lost nickel corner Corey Graham to the Bills during free agency. Yes, the Ravens need a right tackle and a safety. But they could also use another quality corner. … This draft is deep at cornerback, and those that could be available at No. 17 include Baltimore native Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech, Jason Verrett of TCU, and Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma St.”

Quick Hits

  • @ryanmink: Oy vey. MT @BobMcGinn: 3 NFL people I really trust say NFL giving serious consideration to scheduling the draft a week or two later in 2015. [Twitter]
  • @gdowning14: Remember that Cowboys won No. 16 pick over Ravens because of a coin flip. [Twitter]
  • @BaltimoreLuke: [Wednesday] would have been the 81st birthday of the legendary Johnny Unitas. "Talk is cheap. Let's go play." #Baltimore [Twitter]
  • @BPierce_30: Headed back to Bmore for work #EarlyMornings #Up@5 [Twitter]
  • @ElamVsElo: If you understood what I been through, you'll understand what I'm tryna get to..! [Twitter]
  • @Ravens: Say what!?!?! RT @ek1320: @ryanmink @gdowning14 Breaking News: Ravens first rd pick is Kate Upton!! [Twitter]

  • @HabitatChespke: Nothing like seeing your new home for the 1st time, especially with Ravens players! @RavensCommunity #habitat [Twitter]

  • A tear-jerker video here. The Ravens Habitat for Humanity unveiled three new Baltimore homes Wednesday. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker said, "You see stuff like this on TV and I catch myself tearing up on the couch and it's hard not to get kind of emotional when all this stuff is happening right in front of you." [CSNBaltimore.com]

 

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