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Late for Work 4/14: Pundit Floats Idea of Ravens Drafting a Quarterback in the First Round

Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe looks to throw during an NCAA college football game against Michigan State, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich.

Pundit Floats Idea of Ravens Drafting a Quarterback in the First Round

When ranking the Ravens' offseason needs, quarterback is nowhere near the top of the list. In fact, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer, it's at the very bottom.

Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr disagrees. In looking at the Ravens' draft needs, he included quarterback along with the usual positions (cornerback, defensive interior, edge rusher, offensive line).

"As Lamar Jackson approaches the final season of his rookie contract without an extension offer in hand, the Ravens must be prepared for the worst-case scenario," Orr wrote. "All sides are telling us to remain calm right now, but there are so many ways this entire situation could get dicey.

"Jackson could get hurt. The Ravens could play poorly. Jackson could get a bad taste in his mouth negotiating for himself. The list goes on. The Ravens punished the NFL by getting a QB no one thought could succeed late in the first round a few years ago. Could they try to do it again to guard themselves from disaster?"

It should go without saying that the Ravens will not be drafting a quarterback in the first round, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said it anyway during his appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” earlier this week.

"I can guarantee you — there's going to be a big Twitter storm when I say this — we are not going to draft a quarterback in the first round. That's a definite," Harbaugh said.

OK, but what about the second round?

As noted in Late for Work earlier this month, former NFL executive Randy Mueller said it would be wise for the Ravens to "at least give themselves an option" at quarterback by taking one early in the 2022 draft. The option Mueller suggested was Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the second round.

Is This The Year Jadeveon Clowney Becomes a Raven?

Every time edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney has been on the trade or free-agent market over the past three years, the Ravens have been mentioned as a potential suitor for the three-time Pro Bowler.

As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, improving the pass rush is still at the top of the Ravens' list of needs. The popular opinion is that the Ravens will select an edge rusher early in the draft, but that doesn't mean they won't sign a veteran free agent, and Clowney is the best available.

Could this be the year Clowney finally ends up with the Ravens?

"At this point, Clowney is probably the only addition who would be credited as 'moving the meter' for the Ravens," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.

It has been speculated that Clowney will likely re-sign with the Cleveland Browns, but Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi believes Clowney would be a good fit for the Ravens.

"Clowney is outstanding when setting the edge against the run as well as scraping down behind the [line of scrimmage] to take down ball carriers," Lombardi wrote. "And while his sack totals aren't among league leaders (9 in 2021), Clowney is disruptive, contributing 32 pressures last season."

Clowney, 29, is younger than other notable veteran free-agent edge rushers such as former Raven Justin Houston (33), Melvin Ingram (33) and Jerry Hughes (34).

Clowney, whose 14 games last season were the most he's played since 2018, was just half a sack away last year from matching his career-best sack number.

Before Clowney signed with the Tennessee Titans days before the start of the 2020 season, he reportedly preferred Baltimore and nearly got his wish.

The Ravens were reportedly exploring the possibility of the Jacksonville Jaguars signing Clowney, then immediately trading him to the Ravens. The Jaguars would have absorbed some of Clowney's cost but received draft pick (or player) compensation in return. However, the NFL reportedly would not authorize the move.

When Clowney hit free agency last year, it was reported that the Ravens were "keeping tabs" on him before he signed a one-year deal with Cleveland that reportedly was worth up to $10 million..

Whether the Ravens target Clowney or one of the other free-agent edge rushers, Zrebiec said it makes sense for the team to be patient.

"The draft is loaded with edge rushers, creating a dynamic where some of the available veterans could get antsy and sign for team-friendly deals before teams restock in the draft and doors close," Zrebiec wrote. "A few veteran pass rushers could also become available after the draft if a team opts to go younger and cheaper."

Ravens' 2022 Schedule Much Tougher Than First Projected

Remember when the Ravens' opponents for the 2022 season became official and it was determined that they had the easiest schedule?

Yeah, about that. It's always wise to take the strength-of-schedule talk with a grain of salt before teams begin making offseason moves.

The Ravens had the easiest schedule based on last season's records. However, based on teams' 2022 projected win totals from oddsmakers, Baltimore only has the 14th-easiest schedule, according to Sharp Football Analysis.

Three of the Ravens' 2022 opponents are projected to have significantly better records than they had in 2021: the Denver Broncos (10.2 projected wins, 7-10 last year); Browns (10.0, 8-9) and Jacksonville Jaguars (6.2, 3-14).

The Ravens also play the Miami Dolphins, a team that beat them last season and has added wide receiver Tyreek Hill, offensive tackle Terron Armstead and running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, among others, this offseason. Surprisingly, the Dolphins are projected to win the same amount of games (nine) as they did last season.

No Comp Picks for Ravens in 2023?

It's no secret the Ravens love having an abundance of compensatory picks. Unfortunately, they aren't likely to have any in 2023.

Yesterday safety DeShon Elliott became the Ravens' ninth free agent to agree to a deal with another team this offseason, and every one of them has received a modest, one-year deal. The biggest surprise was center Bradley Bozeman getting just a one-year deal, reportedly worth $2.8 million, from the Carolina Panthers.

"These small one-year deals all but took the compensatory draft pick factor out of the equation for the Ravens," Zrebiec wrote.

The Ravens have received more comp picks (55) than any NFL team since the compensatory formula began in 1994. They have three comp picks (one in the third round and two in the fourth) in this year's draft.

Don't be surprised if General Manager Eric DeCosta comes out of the upcoming draft with an extra pick or two for the 2023 draft.

"I'm not saying that the Ravens will forgo making picks this year in favor of having them next year," Zrebiec wrote. "However, I could easily see them moving back in a certain round while picking up an extra 2023 selection in the process. In recent years, the Ravens went into the draft knowing that they are sitting on an extra mid-round pick or two the following year. They don't have that this year."

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