It's time for the NFL Scouting Combine, where teams look for talent while players look to impress.
The Ravens are coming off a 14-2 season and have an enviable roster featuring the league's MVP, Lamar Jackson, and 13 players who were in the Pro Bowl. However, the Ravens still have needs, just like all 32 teams that will have front office decision-makers in Indianapolis.
On Tuesday, media interviews with players, coaches and general managers begin. On-field workouts for over 300 prospects begin Thursday and run through Sunday, with workouts being held in the evening (4-11 p.m.) for the first time.
Here's a rundown of what you need to know:
The Ravens' priorities
This year's draft is deep at both edge rusher and wide receiver, which is good news for Baltimore. Improving the defensive front seven is a top priority, while adding a playmaking wide receiver is also on the Ravens' to-do list. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper believes 18-20 wide receivers could be drafted in the first three rounds.
Even if the Ravens keep leading pass rusher Matthew Judon, via the franchise tag or by signing him to a long-term contract, they will covet edge rushers, inside linebackers and defensive tackles. In addition to Judon, defensive linemen Michael Pierce and Jihad Ward and inside linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes are all set to become free agents.
Adding depth to the offensive line is also important, especially if Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda decides to retire. Starting center Matt Skura is also recovering from a serious knee injury.
Prospects to Watch
Inside linebackers Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma and Patrick Queen of LSU have been the two players most linked to the Ravens in mock drafts with the 28th pick. Murray and Queen are sideline-to-sideline playmakers who could help address the void left by former Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who signed with the New York Jets last year.
Others linked to Baltimore in mock drafts include wide receivers Tee Higgins (Clemson) and Jalen Reagor (TCU); edge rushers Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State), Terrell Lewis (Alabama) and Curtis Weaver (Boise State), and outside linebacker Zack Baun (Wisconsin).
General Manager Eric DeCosta Speaks
On Tuesday (11:45 a.m.), General Manager Eric DeCosta will hold his first press conference of 2020. He will be asked about a variety of subjects, and the session will offer insight into the Ravens' plans for free agency and the draft. Head Coach John Harbaugh will not be at the Combine this year following recent knee replacement surgery. However, on The Lounge Podcast, Ravens Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz said he expects frequent texts from Harbaugh, who will be monitoring the Combine closely.
"He'll be watching a lot of guys, I can promise you that," Hortiz said. "He's already started. Whenever he finds a guy he likes, he texts me. It's fun when he sees a guy that I know we like. It's like, 'Alright, this is going to be an easy guy to push.'"
Don't believe all the hype
Don't get carried away with how well, or how poorly a prospect performs. Two years ago, Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. finished last at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, and the broad jump and he posted just 14 reps in the bench press. Bleacher Report labeled Brown's performance, "one of the worst in Combine history." The Combine hurt Brown's draft stock, but the Ravens trusted their research and what they saw on film. They drafted Brown in the third round, he became a starter as a rookie, and he played in the Pro Bowl in his second season.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf was the star of last year's Combine, but he wasn't the first wide receiver drafted. That honor went to Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who was the 25th overall pick, even though Brown didn't run at the Combine last year because he was recovering from foot surgery. Again, the Ravens trusted their research.
The Combine is not the final verdict on prospects, but it's an important part of the process. The Ravens plan to use it as a springboard to the process of bolstering their roster.
"It's definitely a very talented roster, and we're proud of it," Hortiz said. "But (as) we go into this draft, into this free agency period – we have an opportunity to make it even better. That's what's exciting."