Prepare yourself, your expectations and your snack stockpile for a long first night of the draft, Ravens fans.
General Manager Eric DeCosta make it abundantly clear at Tuesday’s pre-draft press conference that he wants more picks, which would most likely mean trading back from No. 22 and perhaps out of the first round entirely.
“This draft is unique,” DeCosta said. “In this draft, if you can accumulate some additional picks, you’ve got a really good chance to help your team.”
The Ravens currently have a healthy eight draft picks, but don’t have a second-rounder after trading it to the Philadelphia Eagles last year to move up and grab quarterback Lamar Jackson.
With a ton of talent in the second and middle rounds, it’s leaving the Ravens yearning for more swings of the bat.
This year’s draft has more depth than usual. DeCosta pointed to the fact that the Ravens’ first round of major pre-draft meetings lasted seven days instead of five. There were just a lot more draftable players to talk about.
The end of the first through the second round seems quite talent rich, and there may not be a wide gap between players. Thus, the Ravens may feel they can get a comparable player, still at one of their top needs (wide receiver, interior offensive line or pass rusher) if they move back.
There’s always the possibility a blue-chip prospect slides down the board and into the Ravens’ lap. If that happens, they could pounce. But if not, the Ravens will likely look to move back.
“I think if there’s a great player there at No. 22, we’ll make the pick and we’ll be very, very excited,” DeCosta said.
“But one thing that we’ve shown over the past years is we know how to manufacture picks. So if the opportunity is there, we’ll have a chance to trade back and accumulate picks.”
Of course, it always takes two to tango when it comes to draft trades. Another team has to be willing to move up and the compensation has to work out.
Last year, there were more than enough suitors. Baltimore traded back twice in the first round (once from No. 16 to No. 22, then again from No. 22 to No. 25) before selecting tight end Hayden Hurst. But that doesn’t mean offers will come rolling in this year.
“Every draft is different,” DeCosta said. “Some drafts, we’re sure the phone is going to ring and it doesn’t. Last year, it rang too much. We could have made 20 trades. We could still be trading.”
DeCosta said he’s not sure yet whether trading has permanently become more prevalent but did point to compensatory picks as a factor in facilitating more movement.
Beginning in 2017, teams could trade their compensatory picks. That has given all teams more ammunition to work deals out. Considering the Ravens are the league’s best at getting comp picks, it’s particularly helpful for them in providing more draft day flexibility, which DeCosta covets.
“We’ve got two thirds, and we’ve got two fours and we’ve got two sixes. So we’ve got some flexibility, we’ve got some draft capital,” he said.
“Those third-round picks and those fourth-round picks, those are gold for us this year. In this draft, having four picks in those two rounds, that’s an ideal situation to be in.”
Baltimore traded out of the first round in 2010 and 2012, selecting linebackers Sergio Kindle and Courtney Upshaw early in the second round each respective year. In the end, the Ravens have to feel like the entire package of moving back for more picks outweighs the value of the player sitting in their lap.
DeCosta said he could probably narrow down the Ravens’ first-round pick to one of four players. But that’s only if they stay at No. 22.
“Now we could trade up, we could trade back,” DeCosta said. “Having those two threes and two fours, we have the flexibility to go up the draft board or move back if we want to. That changes the whole game.”