The 2015 season was a disappointment for the Ravens and their fans, but at least there's one positive trade-off – a draft season positively crackling with excitement.
With less than three weeks remaining until the 2016 NFL Draft begins in Chicago, the air is filled with scenarios, permutations and possibilities. The Ravens are holding the No. 6 overall pick, their highest selection in years, and team officials have spoken openly about using it to add an elite defensive playmaker. The atmosphere is charged.
But what if the Ravens end up selecting an offensive tackle at No. 6? It's a scenario I'm calling The Big Sigh, because that's exactly what you'll hear if it happens … a big sigh from the citizens of Ravenstown.
Most are hoping to see the Ravens add a defensive game-changer who could make them stand up and shout on Sundays, perhaps linebacker Joey Bosa, defensive end DeForest Buckner, linebacker Myles Jack or cornerback Jalen Ramsey. If the Ravens take a tackle instead, well, there's no doubt he'd be talented and useful and all, but …
See what I mean? Sigh.
And you don't want to hear this, but I would suggest you start preparing for the possibility, not because all signs point to it or the Ravens are hoping for it, but because The Big Sigh could indeed happen.
Philosophically, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is never averse to bolstering the guts of the team, i.e., the offensive and defensive fronts. And among those many circulating scenarios, permutations and possibilities is one in which defense rules and Ramsey, Buckner, Bosa and Jack all get plucked before the Ravens pick, with at least one other team ahead of them (Cleveland?) going for a quarterback, probably Cal's Jared Goff.
That would leave Laremy Tunsil, a left tackle from Ole Miss, as the best available player when the Ravens are on the clock.
If that unfolds, the Ravens probably won't waste much time announcing Tunsil as their pick. Some analysts believe he is the best player in this class at ANY position. Some mock drafts have him going No. 1 overall to the Tennessee Titans, while others have him slipping a few slots.
My two cents, if Tunsil is available, the Ravens would be crazy not to grab him and install him as the long-range protector of Joe Flacco's blind side. They just gave Flacco a big, new deal to lead them going forward, and a cornerstone left tackle of Tunsil's caliber would help him do that.
No, it wouldn't be an exciting pick. No, it wouldn't be the defensive playmaker the Ravens covet. It would be the football version of using your money to fix your roof rather than buy a new car. (Been there, done that, by the way; you should see what I'm driving.)
But it would give the Ravens an excellent chance of using this rare high pick to add a player who becomes an integral part of their framework, which, in the end, is all that really matters.
Might they take a tackle other than Tunsil? That Big Sigh scenario actually has received more airing, as the Ravens have been linked to Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley is many mock drafts.
That would really produce a Big Sigh, actually more of a Very Big Sigh, because Stanley, while obviously gifted, is rated a notch below Tunsil, i.e., less of a sure thing.
Personally, I don't see it happening. Stanley appears to be dropping ever so slightly in mock-draft world, which, we learned this week, the Ravens do monitor. I saw him as low as No. 16 in one iteration.
My guess is Tunsil is the only tackle the Ravens would take at No. 6. If all the defensive playmakers are gone, well, ESPN's Mel Kiper predicted this week the Ravens would take Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott at No. 6 ahead of Buckner, certainly an outside-the-box suggestion.
I don't think that's likely, but as Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta inferred earlier this week, pretty much everyone is lying about their intentions at this point, so who knows what might happen?
In the end, the most probable scenario is the Ravens grab one of those defensive playmakers. But if a Big Sigh suddenly reverberates here on the night of the first round, you were warned.