When General Manager Eric DeCosta says he likes extra draft picks, he's not kidding.
The Ravens have just seven picks in next week’s draft, the fewest they've had since DeCosta's tenure as general manager started in 2019.
He is open about his desire to acquire more picks at some point in this year's draft, looking for a way to give the Ravens an advantage. Stockpiling draft picks has been a core philosophy in the organization's 25-year history.
"I think we've probably had the most picks over that span," DeCosta said. "I look at the draft in many ways – and I have to say, it's a luck-driven process. If you have more picks, you're going to hit on more players, and that goes back to a philosophy that I think [Executive Vice President] Ozzie [Newsome] started back in 1996. We started really going after [complementary] picks and trading back as much as we could in any given round.
"We've had some success, we've also had some big misses. We've had a lot of picks, and I think that's the No. 1 indicator to see teams who have success in the draft, is how many chances they have to draft good players. Then also having the development machine, having the coaching staff, the strength and conditioning people, the wellness people, getting these good, young players in here and giving them a chance to get better – and that's what it's all about."
Holding the 27th pick in this year's draft, the Ravens are in prime position to trade back and acquire an extra pick or two for Day 2 or Day 3. Teams looking to trade into the first round for a player they are targeting – such as one of the late-round quarterbacks, pass rushers or offensive tackles – may entice Baltimore to make a deal.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper said on “The Lounge” podcast that the odds favor Baltimore trading out of the 27th spot to acquire extra picks.
"That's why that late first-round pick has a lot of value," Kiper said. "I'd say it's a 60 percent, 70 percent chance that the Ravens move off that pick if the right guys are still around – they feel like we've got three or four guys we like, we can get one of them by moving down. And then pick up some extra choices. Based on the way this board could fall, yes, I think there's a more than a 50 percent chance they would trade out of there."
This isn't a year when Baltimore needs 10 picks or more, because that many rookies would not have a realistic chance to make the 53-man roster. With more uncertainty in this year's draft because of COVID-19's effect on the college season and pre-draft scouting process, it's also not a year for stockpiling picks.
But if the Ravens want to double-down with two edge rushers or two offensive linemen, acquiring one or two more picks would give them additional draft capital to target those positions.
"You don't want to have 15 picks, or 13 picks, or 12 picks every year, but this is a good draft," DeCosta said. "We see a lot of talented players at the starter-level, potentially. So, if we have the chance to get a pick or two extra, then we'd probably do that. We don't necessarily want to have 11 or 12 picks this year, but there is a sweet spot.
"The idea is to always have some surplus picks in your back pocket that you can use. I think we see the opportunity over the next couple of years to probably draft somewhere around 20 players. We like that number. It keeps us young, but also experienced across the roster, and that should give us a chance to compete long-term."
The Ravens are already in line to receive three extra compensatory picks next year. Acquiring more draft picks, especially once Lamar Jackson's contract is eating up more salary-cap space, will help offset costs down the road.