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Late for Work: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for the Ravens in the First Round

Baltimore Ravens Executive Vice President and Genera Manager Eric DeCosta looks on during pre-game warm-ups before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens Executive Vice President and Genera Manager Eric DeCosta looks on during pre-game warm-ups before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Baltimore.

The Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for the Ravens in the First Round

Twenty-nine prospects will be off the board before the Ravens are on the clock in the first round of the draft Thursday night.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec looked at the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Ravens when it's their turn to make a selection.

"The best case is for the Ravens to be on the clock at No. 30 and to have a choice between one of the better offensive tackle prospects, such as Oklahoma's Tyler Guyton or Georgia's Amarius Mims, and one of the better cornerback prospects, such as Clemson's Nate Wiggins or Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry," Zrebiec wrote. "The worst case is for all those guys to be gone, General Manager Eric DeCosta's phone not ringing with offers from teams wanting to move up and the Ravens forced to draft a player at 30 that they did not have a first-round grade on."

Zrebiec predicted the Ravens will end up trading out of the first round.

"They'll find a team that is picking within the first eight or 10 selections of the second round and wants to get back in the first, and the Ravens will make a deal that nets them early second- and third-round picks," Zrebiec wrote.

Despite Turnover, Ravens' Roster Ranked Among Top Three by The Athletic's Projection Model

No team has lost more players than the Ravens this offseason, but their roster remains one of the best in the league heading into the draft, according to The Athletic's NFL Projection Model.

The Ravens' roster came in at No. 3, trailing only the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, the teams that met in last season's Super Bowl. The roster rankings were determined by a model that takes into account an array of metrics and puts a value on every player.

Despite the Ravens' lofty ranking, Austin Mock, who created the model, said there are some notable holes on their roster.

"You could argue they need to improve at three premier positions," Mock wrote. "The easy answer is receiver, but they're not too deep at CB, either. A big concern of mine is OT. Ronnie Stanley is good, but he's missed a lot of time over the last few years and is on the wrong side of 30. The Ravens are set up at just about every other position group, but if they want to take the next step, WR, CB and OT must be addressed."

The Ravens are almost certain to address those positions, and probably edge rusher as well, in the draft. DeCosta also has shown a propensity to sign impactful free agents late in the offseason and even early in the regular season.

It's a testament to the Ravens' star power and depth that they have a roster ranked among the elite teams despite so much turnover.

Ravens Named Potential Landing Spot if WR Courtland Sutton Is Traded

The Ravens reportedly were close to trading for wide receiver Courtland Sutton last offseason, but the Denver Broncos decided to keep him. Would the Ravens be interested if Sutton became available this offseason?

Sutton, who is seeking a new contract, did not participate in the Broncos’ voluntary workouts this week, which has led to speculation about the former Pro Bowler's future in Denver.

The Ravens, who could be in the market for a veteran wide receiver to replace Odell Beckham Jr., have been named as a possible landing spot for Sutton.

"With Zay Flowers getting open inside and Mark Andrews dominating the seam, Sutton can provide a much-needed outside threat," Last Word on Sports’ David Latham wrote. "Baltimore needs as many weapons as they can get if they want to take down Kansas City, and Sutton could be the missing piece to this puzzle."

When Broncos General Manager George Paton was asked about Sutton's absence this week, he said: "It's 100 percent voluntary. It's the first week of the offseason program. [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] has talked to Courtland. I've talked to Courtland. He's in a good place and we'll just leave it at that."

Sutton, 28, had 59 catches for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. His best season was in 2019, when he had 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. Except for 2020, when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 that ended his season, Sutton has gained at least 700 receiving yards every year.

The Ravens reportedly brought in free-agent wide receivers Josh Reynolds and Michael Gallup for visits this offseason. Reynolds eventually signed with the Broncos; Gallup remains unsigned.

Pundit Says Flowers Is Among WR1s Who Need Most Help From Draft

Flowers was named one of five WR1s who would most benefit from their teams adding a talented skill position player early in the draft by's Michelle Magdziuk.

"In his 2023 rookie season, Flowers showed off his quickness and elite separation skills, averaging 3.7 yards of separation per target (third among WRs with 100-plus targets, per NGS). However, given his small stature (5-foot-9 and 182 pounds), he has predictably struggled to make contested catches in the NFL," Magdziuk wrote. "Per PFF, Flowers caught just five contested targets all last season. He had notable trouble against press coverage, coming down with just three receptions vs. press coverage in 2023, which was by far the fewest among wide receivers with at least 100 targets.

"With Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor on the roster, the Ravens need to add a big-bodied wideout who can make contested catches on the outside to take some of the pressure off Flowers and allow him to run more routes in the middle of the field, where he can excel with his skill set."

Magdziuk said South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette would fit the bill.

"Legette has the rare skill set of being both big and fast," Magdziuk wrote. "He had one of the more impressive performances at the NFL Scouting Combine, clocking a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical jump while measuring 6-1 and 221 pounds. Legette is an excellent contested catch playmaker with a big catch radius — he'd be a perfect complement to the speed and finesse of Flowers."

Ravens Miss Out on Flowers in 2023 Re-draft

Speaking of Flowers, The Athletic's Nick Baumgardner did a re-draft of last year's first round, and Flowers did not make it to the Ravens at No. 22.

Flowers was taken two spots earlier by the Seattle Seahawks, who originally picked wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

"Flowers set multiple franchise rookie records in Baltimore last season, including catches (77) and receiving yards (858), and perhaps should be higher in this redraft," Baumgardner wrote. "He served as a true field-stretching threat with the ability to win underneath. Flowers' big-play ability should only improve as his confidence grows."

With Flowers gone, Baumgardner had the Ravens taking offensive lineman Peter Skoronski. Skoronski was originally selected by the Tennessee Titans at No. 11.

"Skoronski's rookie season got off to a bit of a slow start due to a ruptured appendix, but his second half was much more productive as a run blocker and in protection, inside at guard," Baumgardner wrote. "I still think Skoronski can play tackle, if need be, but at a minimum he's on track to be a very good guard."

All-Trades Mock Draft Has Ravens Making Deal With Chargers to Move Back

ESPN's Bill Barnwell unveiled his annual mock draft consisting entirely of trades in the first round. Not surprisingly, he had the Ravens trading back.

In Barnwell's scenario, the Ravens would send their first-round pick (No. 30 overall) to the Los Angeles Chargers for a second-rounder (No. 37) and fourth-rounder (No. 105).

"New Chargers General Manager Joe Hortiz just came over from Baltimore, so he probably has Eric DeCosta's number," Barnwell wrote. "Baltimore already has a pair of fourth-rounders, but adding another would allow it to further replenish a roster that was hit hard by free agency or package a couple of picks to try to move up on Day 2."

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