Eric DeCosta: Trading Up in First Round Is 'Risky'

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If the Ravens want to trade up in the draft, they have the ammunition to make it happen. With nine picks overall, including seven in the first four rounds, Baltimore has enough to make a bold move up from the 28th pick.

However, is a bold move necessary coming off a 14-2 season with a young roster that already puts Baltimore in position to contend for a Super Bowl? That's a question General Manager Eric DeCosta will weigh.

"In general, trading up is dangerous, it's a little bit risky," DeCosta said. "I understand people love the idea of trading up to get a guy. But in general, historically if you look at all those trade ups, it's 50-50. You've got to look at what you give up to get a guy, and how those picks turn out."

DeCosta said this year's draft is particularly deep, which means he'd like to take more shots than fewer.

"Just in general, my strategy is always, the draft in and of itself there's definitely a luck component. You may be surprised to hear me say that, but I do believe that," DeCosta said, citing studies he's read. "From that standpoint, you're always better off having more picks than less picks. If you trade up, you give up picks. So you better get a guy that's going to be a difference-maker if you trade up."

Many mock drafts have the Ravens selecting either Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma or Patrick Queen of LSU. Both are talented inside linebackers with the potential to fill the void left by C.J. Mosley's departure during free agency last year. Many mock drafts have one or both gone before the Ravens are on the clock at No. 28 (DeCosta said he expects the top 40).

"It just would depend on what that opportunity was," DeCosta said, referring to moving up in general, and not to Murray and Queen specifically. "Who is the player that's available? What can we get in exchange for making a trade? What kind of picks can we get?

"We love to make trades. The last two years especially, I think we've made a ton of trades, and it's been really fun for us. I think we've benefited from some of the trades that were made. This year, we do have a lot of [picks]. We have the opportunity to maybe go up and get a guy."

Who else might the Ravens target moving up?

If you want to think bolder than trading up for Murray or Queen, how about the Ravens trading into the top 15 to get one of the top wide receiver prospects like CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma, or Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III of Alabama?

Would the Ravens be willing to part with enough picks to get into the top 15? Don't count on it.

The value the Ravens place on draft picks likely makes the price tag for Lamb way up too steep. Lamb earned a reputation in college as a receiver with vice grip hands.

However, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Lamb ends up in Baltimore.

"I think he'll be long gone," DeCosta said. "I think he's an outstanding prospect, a guy that we've watched at length over the least two years.

"I hesitate to say we would never trade up for a guy. A guy like (Ohio State edge rusher) Chase Young, if he starts to slip in the draft and we thought we might be able to get him, we'd probably see us trade up to try get him."

The Ravens have an affinity for drafting Alabama players and Jeudy worked out with Lamar Jackson recently. But Jeudy isn't expected to fall out of the top 15 either and if he does, the Ravens won't be the only team interested.

"Normally, when a guy starts to fall, what you find is other teams are trying to trade for him, too, and they're usually willing to give up more than you're willing to give up," DeCosta said.

"I think back to a couple years ago, we tried to make a trade for a guy who was falling a little bit, and we didn't get him. And, fortunately, the guy we got ended up being really good, so it worked out. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. We just assess case by case and see what we can do."

DeCosta may have been referencing not trading up to get cornerback Marshon Lattimore in 2017. Five picks later, they selected Marlon Humphrey, who went to the Pro Bowl last season.

DeCosta is perfectly comfortable picking at No. 28, believing he will find multiple players in this draft who can help the Ravens immediately. But as always, he's keeping his options open.

"You're always better off having more picks than less picks," DeCosta said. "When you trade up, you give up picks, so you better get a guy who's going to be a difference maker, if you trade.

"I like to have 10, 12, 14 picks in every draft. But if there's an elite player available, you'd be foolish not to consider that."

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