Eisenberg: Only Certainty Is Uncertainty In Ravens Draft


Is there any chance (blank) happens?

It's a question I'm repeatedly hearing in these final days before the 2016 NFL Draft, with numerous Ravens scenarios filling in the blank.

You name it, almost.

Could Jalen Ramsey, the freakishly athletic defensive back, fall to the Ravens, who hold the No. 6 pick in the first round? Could they get a shot at Joey Bosa, the high-motor pass rusher who was the likely No. 1 pick a few months ago? Is there any chance they take running back Ezekiel Elliott? Might they receive an offer they can't refuse for the No. 6 pick and move back? Could they trade up into the top five?

The answer to those questions is yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. There's a CHANCE all sorts of things could happen.

Sometimes the draft is easy to decipher ahead of time, and sometimes it's not. The Ravens have picked a decidedly unpredictable year to hold their highest pick since 2001.

Between the sands of opinion shifting on several prospects and landscape-altering trades involving the top two picks, there's plenty of uncertainty about what lies ahead.

We know the first two picks are going to be quarterbacks, probably Jared Goff to the Los Angeles Rams as the No. 1 pick and Carson Wentz to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 2. But after that, it's not clear what the San Diego Chargers at No. 3, Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 and Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 5 are going to do. And the Ravens need to see those picks before knowing what's available at No. 6.

But while the uncertainty means almost anything is possible, some scenarios are likelier than others. It would surprise me if the Ravens trade back, knowing this is a rare chance (they hope) to grab a truly elite player. It also would surprise me if Ramsey is available at No. 6. But now that we're counting hours until the first round Thursday night, it's seemingly quite possible that Laremy Tunsil, the offensive tackle from Ole Miss, could be available.

That's potentially a game-changer (pick changer?) for the Ravens. Big, strong and agile, Tunsil was deemed the likely No. 1 overall selection for months because the Tennessee Titans held the pick and need a blind-side tackle. But now the Rams and Eagles are taking quarterbacks first and second and none of those other teams ahead of the Ravens really needs a left tackle.

Oh, maybe the Chargers do. They're counting on veteran King Dunlap, who excelled in 2014, signed a big contact and struggled with injuries in 2015, much like the Ravens' Eugene Monroe. Tunsil would constitute a long-term upgrade, but the Chargers are paying Dunlap a bunch of money in 2016 even after restructuring his deal to lower his salary. "I'm ready to roll," he said recently.

The Chargers are facing a tough choice with the brilliant Ramsey also sitting there as an option. In the end, I think they take Ramsey and the Cowboys take Bosa, although I could also see them taking Elliott to reinvigorate their running game. Either way, Dallas already has an elite left tackle, Tyron Smith. That leaves the Jaguars, who have the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, Luke Joeckel, playing left tackle, and also signed free agent tackle Kelvin Beachum.

If it unfolds that Tunsil is available at No. 6, the Ravens really have to look in a war-room mirror and decide how much they like him. A couple of stellar defensive players almost certainly will still be available, including DeForest Buckner, a rugged defensive end from Oregon. The Ravens have said they'd love to use the pick to bolster their defense, and Buckner would do that, as would Bosa or linebacker Myles Jack.

But some scouts think Tunsil is the best left tackle prospect to enter the league in the past few years, not just in 2016.

The Ravens have showered praise on him, but do they like him enough to take him ahead of, say, Buckner?

To be determined.

It's good theater, for sure, a lot more entertaining than when the Ravens pick near the bottom of the first round. Was it worth seeing them go 5-11 to earn the high pick? Let's not get carried away. But since 5-11 did happen, well, here we are.

The only certainty is there'll be uncertainty to the very end, the moment the Ravens' selection is announced Thursday night.

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