Eric DeCosta Has Three Positions In Mind For First Round

It's about the time of year when Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta starts to get a feeling in his gut on who Baltimore's first-round pick will be.

It's usually pretty reliable. DeCosta says he's accurately predicted Baltimore's first-round pick eight of the past 10 years.

He isn't ready to make his projection this year, but he's close.

"I think I can get the position down to three positions, but as far as nailing the player, I have some work to do," DeCosta said Wednesday.

That begs the question: What are the three positions?

On paper, the Ravens three biggest needs appear to be cornerback, wide receiver and tight end.

But as Ravens fans know, who the Ravens draft is not entirely based on need. DeCosta's projection could simply be based on which positions he sees sliding to the end of the first round.

Last week, Owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens aren’t “desperate” for a wide receiver, and generally downplayed the need at the position. He did say they're desperate at tight end, but there's only one tight end considered as a possible first-round pick: Minnesota's Maxx Williams.

The Ravens have their two starting cornerbacks in Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, but both have had trouble staying healthy during their careers and Smith is headed into the final year of his contract. Head Coach John Harbaugh has spoken positively about the team's youth behind them, however.

Bisciotti also pointed out a couple of times last week that the Ravens could take a pass rusher in the first round, and that he "wouldn't be too upset" if his team went that route.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome was asked if there's one position he absolutely knows the Ravens will pluck a rookie from this year, like he predicted last year with wide receiver.

"No, I'm not ever going to make that statement again because I got caught in the seventh round [last year] and we hadn't [drafted a wide receiver]," Newsome said with a laugh. "We will set the board and we will take the players as they present themselves to us."

Most times, the Ravens are looking for a player of high value – regardless of position – to slide down the first round further than they should according to Baltimore's rankings.

He said an important part of the draft is assessing a player's "league value," or where the rest of the league ranks him compared to the Ravens.

"We will anticipate certain guys each year falling a little bit in the draft, and we'll try to have a plan in place," DeCosta said. "We have to make a decision like, 'Hey, do we have a comfort level going up to get this guy, or should we stand pat where we are?'"

Last year, the Ravens stayed put and grabbed Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley at No. 17 overall. DeCosta said he wasn't surprised when Mosley was there. That was his pick heading in.

"I can't get it right every single year, but I think probably in the last 20 years, well since 2005 … eight out of the 10 years I've been able to nail it," he said. "A couple of years I didn't, but those were years when we traded up or traded back."

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