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Five Questions Facing Ravens Before Pre-Draft Press Conference


Here are five draft questions facing the Ravens heading into Tuesday's pre-draft press conference featuring General Manager Eric DeCosta, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, which we will stream live on the website, app and Facebook at 11:45 a.m.:

Which position should be the top priority?

You could make a case for wide receiver or pass rusher being the Ravens' biggest need.

They lost 15 ½ sacks from last season when Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs left during free agency. It would not be shocking to see Baltimore take one of the pass rushers who could fall to No. 22, like Montez Sweat of Mississippi State, Clelin Ferrell of Clemson, Brian Burns of Florida State, Jaylon Ferguson of Louisiana Tech or D'Andre Walker of Georgia.

Meanwhile, you won’t have any problem finding wide receivers linked to the Ravens in mock drafts. They have just two receivers on the roster who have caught an NFL pass – Willie Snead IV and Chris Moore – and wide receiver is one of the deepest positions in this year's class.

Can the Ravens find a wide receiver good enough to help them immediately?

This year's prospects come in different sizes with different strengths – speedsters like Parris Campbell of Ohio State and impressive physical specimens like D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss. The Ravens are looking to add more weapons around young quarterback Lamar Jackson, and receivers who don't buy into the kind of offense the Ravens are building won't fit.

"We'll take all the Steve Smiths that we can get," Harbaugh said, referring to the Ravens' former receiver. "That's kind of the idea. You're not going to be a certain type of receiver and want to come play in Baltimore. We have not received phone calls from some guys. That's okay. I don't want to hear from those guys. We want rough guys, we want tough guys, we need guys with good hands."

Historically, finding a quality wide receiver in the draft hasn't been easy for the Ravens. It is one of the more difficult positions from which to make the transition from the college game to the NFL.

In this year's draft, it would behoove the Ravens to find at least one who is good enough to contribute right away.

"Everybody always wants to know about wide receivers in Baltimore," DeCosta said at the NFL winter meetings. "There's a lot of players in this draft, draftable prospects at the wide receiver position. I'm confident that we'll take at least one guy, at some point, that will have a chance to help the team."

Is there an interior offensive lineman or inside linebacker worth taking in the first round?

With the Ravens committed to a run-first offense, would they opt for the top center in the draft, Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State, if he’s still available at No. 22? What if Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush is still on the board? Could the Ravens afford not to take Bush after losing C.J. Mosley to the New York Jets?

If Bradbury or Bush is still available at No. 22, the Ravens could have a tough decision to make.

Is trading out of the first round the best option for the Ravens?

The Ravens don't have a second-round pick, dealing it away last year to get Jackson. They only have one pick among the first 84. Don't be surprised if Baltimore trades out of the first round, hoping to get more picks later to fill more needs.

"Our only problem right now is we don't have enough draft picks," Harbaugh said. "If we had more draft picks, I would be even more excited about those mid-round wide receivers."

Can this Ravens draft be as good, or better than last year's?

The 2018 draft produced a host of immediate impact players, featuring Jackson and tight end Hayden Hurst in the first round, tight end Mark Andrews and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in the third round, cornerback Anthony Averett and inside linebacker Kenny Young in the fourth round, and center Bradley Bozeman in the sixth round.

The Ravens were thrilled to pick up safety Earl Thomas, running back Mark Ingram, and special teams standout/cornerback Justin Bethel during free agency, and they may sign more players once teams begin to make more roster cuts. But the Ravens are counting on this year's draft as part of the formula for building a team that can achieve lofty goals.

"You never have enough draft picks, or high enough draft picks in your mind to address everything that you want to do as far as your roster goes," Harbaugh said. "So you've got to hit on some undrafted free agents. You got to have a cap casualty fall through for you somewhere along the way. A lot of that stuff's unpredictable. We'll find a way."

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