When the Ravens get into the late rounds of next week’s NFL Draft, General Manager Ozzie Newsome will have a larger than normal pool of players on the board in front of him.
NFL executives and draft experts agree that the 2014 class is a deep group and the Ravens have about 180 players they consider draftable prospects.
“Some years we have 150; some years we’ve had 140. We have about 180 now,” Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said. “Certainly, we won’t be picking [all] those guys, but our scouts have deemed those guys as draftable.”
The positions of strength are considered wide receiver, offensive tackle and quarterback. NFL Network’s lead draft analyst Mike Mayock expects six receivers to get drafted in the first round and he has 10 quarterbacks graded as 1-3 round picks, which is the most he’s ever had.
The Ravens front office agrees with the quality at those positions.
“I think wideout is very deep,” DeCosta said. “You’ve got a lot of really good players, probably 15 receivers that I think are very, very good players. I think tackle is good. You have the top four guys that are going to be high picks. Most likely all four of those guys are going to be gone before we pick. I would say those two positions are pretty good.”
This year’s draft class was aided by a huge influx of underclassmen who decided to leave school early. A record 103 underclassmen declared for this year’s draft, giving the group much more depth than prior years.
Some NFL executives, including Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert, have said this year’s draft is the best they have ever seen.
Newsome and the Ravens brass said time will make that determination.
“I understand what everybody is saying about [the draft quality], but from my perspective, three years later we’ll make a determination how strong this draft is,” Newsome said.
“I would say it’s deep if you draft the right players.” DeCosta said. “That’s the challenge. There are a lot of players in this draft; we just have to draft the right guys.”
The deep group not only gives the Ravens more options on the third day of the draft, but it also increases the importance after the final pick is made. Teams around the league work to recruit players from the undrafted pool of free agents, and there will likely be several of the Ravens’ “draftable” prospects in that category.
“That tells me that if we’re doing our jobs, we should do a really nice job in undrafted free agency, because we’re going to target a lot of those guys that we think are good players that don’t get drafted and try to add those guys after the draft,” DeCosta said.
“But we’ve got to recruit those guys, we’ve got to sign those guys and that’s the challenge. They’ll be available. We just have to get the guys we want to get.”