For much of the first round of tonight’s draft, the Ravens’ front office executives, coaches and scouts in the team’s new-and-improved draft room will just be chilling.
General Manager Eric DeCosta hasn’t decided whether he’ll allow food in yet, but the atmosphere will be relaxed as they watch the TV like everyone else.
But as the Ravens’ pick at No. 22 draws closer, the room will grow a little quieter. The phone, or multiple phones may start ringing, with trade offers. The mood will change quickly.
There are a variety of factors that will affect who the Ravens pick at No. 22 (or elsewhere). Here are some those inside the room and fans may be watching for:
1. Where the quarterbacks go
Every year, the quarterbacks shape the draft. If teams are going to trade up, it’s generally to grab one. DeCosta has basically advertised that he’d like to trade back. If a team wants to get a quarterback at No. 22, they could approach Baltimore with an offer. There are four likely first-round quarterbacks this year: Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones.
If a quarterback hungry team doesn’t draft one with their first pick, they could trade back into the first round and give Baltimore their early second-round pick in return. Some teams behind Baltimore, such as Oakland, the Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers or even the New England Patriots, could draft a young signal-caller.
2. The wide receiver bubble, especially D.K. Metcalf
There isn’t a strong consensus on how many wide receivers will go in the first round this year, and one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft is Ole Miss wideout D.K. Metcalf. Is Metcalf a top-15 pick? Is he even a first-rounder? Where does Oklahoma’s Marquise “Hollywood” Brown fit into the mix? Could a third or fourth wide receiver slip into the end of the first round, or will there be a run in the early second round?
The Ravens, who have a big need at the position, will surely be monitoring it closely. Wide receivers tend to go off the board faster than expected. Remember in 2017 when three went in the top-10 when it was almost assured that Baltimore would have a shot to get at least one at No. 16?
3. Falling defensive standouts
There are a ton of quality defensive linemen and edge rushers in this class, which means it’s likely that some of them slide down the board for some various reasons. Two to keep an eye on are Michigan’s Rashan Gary and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat. It was recently revealed that Gary has a shoulder issue, and some analysts are scared off by his modest college stats. Sweat also has a medical red flag after a heart condition was discovered at the Combine. There are also questions about his transfer from Michigan State early in his career.
Both players are athletic monsters who seemingly have very high ceilings. But will some of the pre-draft buzz scare teams off and send them tumbling into the 20s?
4. How high do the O-linemen go?
Baltimore hasn’t been shy about its desire to upgrade the offensive line, and center/guard have been popular projections. However, there are many other teams hungry for O-linemen too. The Panthers (No. 16) and Vikings (No. 18) are both in the market for centers. The Giants (Nos. 6 and 17) and Falcons (No. 14) also need help with blocking in the trenches. The Texans, who sit one spot behind Baltimore at No. 23, are desperate for offensive line help after giving up the most sacks in the NFL last year. Centers Garrett Bradbury (N.C. State), Erik McCoy (Texas A&M) and Elgton Jenkins (Mississippi State) could all be in play, as well as guards Cody Ford (Oklahoma) and Chris Lindstrom (Boston College). Some of the top offensive tackles, such as Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams and Jawaan Taylor, are expected to go in the top 15.
5. Running back Josh Jacobs
Alabama running back Josh Jacobs is widely considered the top running back in the class and the only one expected to go in the first round. The Ravens already signed veteran Mark Ingram, but that may not rule them out from taking a running back – even in the first round. Two teams set to pick not far after the Ravens, the Raiders (Nos. 24 and 27) and Eagles (No. 25) have both been pegged as potential suitors. Could one of them come up to get Jacobs if they don’t want Baltimore, or the other, team to take him?