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Five Factors That Will Influence Ravens' First-Round Pick

Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) covers Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson (6) during an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa.on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.
Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) covers Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson (6) during an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa.on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

As Ravens fans wait for their team to be on the clock, there's always a ripple effect based on earlier action, particularly picks in the teens.

Here are five factors Ravens fans should watch that could shape who is available at No. 22 overall:

How many quarterbacks go ahead of Ravens?

This is one to watch every year. Bryce Young (Alabama) and C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) will come off the board in the top five. Will Levis (Kentucky) and Anthony Richardson (Florida) are likely next, but it's unknown where. Levis should go in the top 15, it seems. Richardson is a real wild card.

Some analysts had the ultra-athletic signal-caller as the No. 1-overall pick after he blew the roof off the Combine. Now, in the days leading up to the draft, some top insiders (Peter King and Albert Breer) have him going in the 20s. NFL Network's Bucky Brooks has Baltimore picking Richardson at No. 22 in his latest mock draft, which would be a shocking move.

Another quarterback to watch is Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), who is coming off a torn ACL. His stock appears to be rising in the days leading up to the draft. If he's drafted ahead of Baltimore, that pushes one more player down to the Ravens.

When does the wide receiver run start?

There's been plenty of buzz about this year's wide receiver group being weaker at the top than recent classes. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Jordan Addison (USC), Zay Flowers (Boston College) and Quentin Johnston (TSU) are the names to watch.

Jim Nagy, who runs the Senior Bowl, said in his calls around the league that the NFL "isn't nearly as high on this year's WR class as media" and that only one wideout, Smith-Njigba, has a first-round grade. He appears to be the wide receiver poised to go first.

Even if that's true, however, it could still mean more than one receiver is drafted in the first round, or even before the Ravens are on the clock. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard recently said they have only 17 players with first-round grades, and that seems to be the consensus.

So even a wide receiver with a second-round grade could be taken in the first round. Being that it's a premium position and wide receivers generally fly off the board fast, the Ravens will be watching to see when the run begins. It could be just before Baltimore is on the clock with wide receiver being at or near the top of the needs for the Steelers (17), Seahawks (20) and Chargers (21).

When do the cornerback and offensive tackle runs start?

The other need at the top of Baltimore's list is at cornerback, and there's a cluster of players that could come off the board in the mid-to-late first round. The later the run starts, the better for the Ravens.

Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) and Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) are both likely top-15 picks. The further down the board they slide, the better for the Ravens because it means cornerback-needy teams have more choices. In an ultra-deep and talented cornerback class, do teams go in other directions early?

The next group of cornerbacks expected to be picked are Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State), Deonte Banks (Maryland) and Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State). Brain Branch, a versatile safety/corner from Alabama, could be thrown in the mix too. The recent reports are that some teams prefer Banks over Porter, and that Banks is a player teams "quietly love."

Teams to watch are the Raiders (7), Falcons (8), Texans (12), Patriots (14), Commanders (16), Steelers (17), Lions (6 & 18) and Seahawks (20). Any of them could take a first-round cornerback the Ravens like.

If Witherspoon and Gonzalez are both gone in the top 15, the Commanders and Steelers will be tempted to grab Porter or Banks. That is, unless there are still top offensive tackles on the board, such as Paris Johnson (Ohio State), Broderick Jones (Georgia), and Darnell Wright (Tennessee). So Ravens fans should hope the tackles slide.

There's also a cluster of teams just behind the Ravens – Vikings (23), Jaguars (24), Giants (25) – who are hungry for a top cornerback. The Ravens may be concerned about the potential to get leapfrogged if they have their eyes fixed on one corner in particular.

A few game-changers who could slide down the board.

Richardson is one of the more polarizing players in the draft, but there are others.

Pass rusher Nolan Smith (Georgia) could land in the top-10 or go outside the top 20. He has some elite tools and great character, but only 11.5 career sacks in four seasons.

Running back Bijan Robinson (Texas) is considered one of the top five prospects at any position in the draft, but running backs often get pushed down the board. Is there any chance the elite talent gets to No. 22? Would the Ravens consider him? Or maybe a team wants to move up to No. 22 to get him?

Two tight ends could spur trade offers.

The Ravens are almost assuredly not going to draft a first-round tight end with Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar all on board.

However, there are two tight ends, Dalton Kincaid (Utah) and Michael Mayer (Notre Dame), who could be on the board when the Ravens are on the clock. Both would be a bargain at No. 22, so some team might be willing to move up a few (or more) spots to grab them.

The Dallas Cowboys (No. 26) and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 28) are the teams behind Baltimore who are looking for tight ends most.

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