Mailbag: Will the Ravens Draft a Wide Receiver in First Three Rounds?

GM Eric DeCosta

Downing: The Ravens made it clear at the outset of the offseason that they wanted to upgrade the offensive line. That process started with the addition of right tackle Morgan Moses, but then last year's starting center, Bradley Bozeman, signed with the Carolina Panthers in free agency. The Ravens have quality in-house options to replace Bozeman with Patrick Mekari and Trystan Colon, so drafting a center isn't a necessity. I fully expect the Ravens to draft at least one offensive tackle this year. General Manager Eric DeCosta has said multiple times this offseason that he wants contingency plans after all the injury issues the team had last year. Drafting a tackle with an early pick would give the Ravens a backup to step in at left tackle if Ronnie Stanley suffers any kind of setback in his recovery from ankle surgery. If Ronnie is fully healthy, which the Ravens certainly hope is the case, then the Ravens could have that rookie tackle compete for the starting left guard spot. 

Now, if the Ravens spend an early pick on a tackle, I don't think they'll rule out also drafting a center. They've had success with late-round picks at center, as Bozeman and Ryan Jensen both developed into quality starters after being Day 3 picks. With so many picks in the fourth round, the Ravens could use one of those selections on a developmental center to learn behind Mekari and compete for the spot in the future. Simply put, I don't think the Ravens will limit themselves to an either/or proposition when it comes to drafting offensive linemen this year. I could see them adding a pair of linemen in this draft, especially if they see a quality developmental prospect in the later rounds.

Downing: Ja'Wuan James is under contract for the Ravens this season and he could turn out to be a very valuable piece of this offensive line. If the Ravens decide not to draft a tackle, then James will likely be the top backup for both tackle spots. The Raven clearly like the potential James possesses, which is why they signed him last year despite the torn Achilles he had recently suffered. The biggest question with James is how he'll hold up to an NFL season after spending most of the last three years sidelined. James has played in just three games since 2019, so it's tough to predict how he'll look once he gets back on the field in a full capacity. James was a quality player before the injuries, he and would give the offensive line a major boost if he returns to that level of play.

Brown: I think it's unlikely the Ravens take a wide receiver in the first three rounds. I view cornerback and edge rusher as greater needs, and this draft is deep with talented defensive players. It would not shock me to see Baltimore take another receiver on Day 3, because I think a possession receiver with size would fit nicely in the offense to take some pressure off All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews. If there's a receiver who fits that mold, the Ravens could be tempted on Saturday, especially if it's a wideout who's also an outstanding blocker. However, the Ravens have invested heavily at wide receiver in recent drafts, and I think they believe Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay will continue to develop, while Tylan Wallace also has the potential to earn more playing time. There's a possibility the Ravens could sign a veteran receiver at some point if they're concerned about depth or lack of experience at the position.

Brown: I don't see a scenario where the Ravens trade Ronnie Stanley, even if they draft an offensive tackle. The Ravens are optimistic Stanley will return to playing at an All-Pro level after his most recent ankle surgery, and early indications are his recovery is progressing nicely. Even if the Ravens were to draft an offensive tackle like Trevor Penning of Northern Iowa, it would be risky to rely on a rookie taking over on the left side. Signing Moses was a nice addition, but he has been a right tackle his entire career, and counting on James with his recent health history would be risky. Mekari and Tyre Phillips have played some left tackle, but Mekari could be the starting center. I think the Ravens could use more offensive line depth even if Stanley returns 100 percent. Baltimore already has ample draft capital without trading Stanley. Left tackles are vitally important, and Stanley is still only 28 years old. If he returns to his previous form, the Ravens will have a premier performer at that position who's still in his prime.

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