Here's What Mike Mayock's Top 5 Position Rankings Suggest To Ravens
One of the best draft analysts in the business published his 2017 NFL Draft rankings.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock listed his top-5 prospects at each position just two weeks ahead of the combine, which means they will surely change before April's selection day.
Let's take a look at his rankings for some of the Ravens' draft needs and see what we can glean:
Cornerback1. Sidney Jones, Washington
2. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
4. Teez Tabor, Florida
5. Tre'Davious White, LSU
Cornerback is arguably the Ravens' biggest need this offseason, and Assistant GM Eric DeCosta said that if the board falls right, he could draft a corner in each of the top two rounds. Analysts say this might be the deepest position in this year's class, and the biggest argument is how to rank them. "I currently have 10 cornerbacks in my top 50 players and I felt guilty for leaving a handful of other cornerbacks off my list," wrote NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.
Mayock's No. 1 corner is a slight surprise, as most rankings have Lattimore as the top pick (see Todd McShay and Mel Kiper). It wouldn't be out of the question for Jones, Mayock's top corner, to fall to the Ravens with their first pick. In Kiper's latest mock draft, he has Baltimore selecting Jones at No. 16. However these talented players fall, Baltimore could be in a solid position to match a first-rounder across from starter Jimmy Smith.
Safety1. Malik Hooker, Ohio State
2. Jamal Adams, LSU
3. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
4. Budda Baker, Washington
5. Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Depending on what the Ravens do in free agency, safety could be another immediate need to fill. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says that even if Baltimore signs a veteran, the team should still use the draft to find a young safety. Hooker gets the top spot over Adams and Peppers on Mayock's list, but the Ohio State product will reportedly miss the NFL Combine while recovering from surgery on a torn labrum and a hernia. Peppers has a Harbaugh tie as he played for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. If the top corners fly off the board before No. 16, the Ravens could choose between one of the lower-ranked corners or the best safety in the draft, says Kiper. He'd go with the top safety.
"Overall, this is the best group of DBs we've had in several years," an unnamed NFL executive told Jeremiah. "Specifically, I love the safety depth. I keep watching one good player after another. The UConn kid (Obi Melifonwu) was a revelation at the Senior Bowl. The safety at Utah (Marcus Williams) is a great player and he isn't even one of the five best safeties in the draft."
Edge rusher1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
2. Tim Williams, Alabama
3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee
4. Solomon Thomas, Stanford
5. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
Mayock showed he is in agreement with the rest of draft analysts by putting Garrett No. 1* *on his edge rusher list. In fact, Garrett is also the consensus No. 1 overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. (He wouldn't be fun for the Ravens offensive line to block over the next several years.) Pass rusher is another "loaded" group, so if the Ravens choose to address the secondary in the first round, there could be some solid options later on.
Running Back1. Dalvin Cook, Florida State
2. Leonard Fournette, LSU
3. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
4. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
5. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
The Ravens would like to add a dynamic playmaker to the offensive backfield this offseason, and there are a few options. Don't expect Baltimore to target Mixon, however, after he was caught on tape punching a woman in the head. But analysts say there is depth that could provide solid options in the middle rounds if the Ravens don't nab one of the top players in Round 1. There's plenty of debate about who the top back really is.
"The running back class in this year's draft is sure to feature the Dalvin Cook-or-Leonard Fournette debate as a continuing theme in the coming weeks," wrote College Football 24/7's Chase Goodbread. "Mayock, at least for now, is standing on the Cook side of the fence. He rated the former Florida State star as the top running back prospect in the draft over LSU's Fournette in his initial rankings. Though their styles are in contrast -- Fournette is bigger and more powerful, while Cook is more proven as a receiver -- they could both be dynamic pros."
Wide receiver1. Corey Davis, Western Michigan
2. Mike Williams, Clemson
3. John Ross, Washington
4. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
5. Zay Jones, East Carolina
The Ravens need someone to help replace Steve Smith Sr. after the 37-year-old receiver retired. It's widely expected for GM Ozzie Newsome to target a veteran in free agency next month, but there are some options in the draft too. It's mildly surprising that Mayock placed Davis ahead of Williams, but a case can certainly be made for Davis. Neither are expected to last long enough for the Ravens to draft.
Mayock favors a lot of small-school talent, with three of his top five coming from outside the Power Five conferences. Kupp certainly features eye-popping production, setting the all-time college records for career receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464) and receiving touchdowns (73). Both Kupp and Jones were standouts at last month's Senior Bowl.
Five Young Players Ravens Need More From In 2017
As the Ravens prepare to bring new faces to Baltimore, it's important to remember that it's equally critical for young talent already on the team to develop and take the next step.
WNST's Luke Jones named five young players the Ravens need more from as they try to return to the playoffs next season:
1. OLB Matt Judon"The edge rusher topping the list is a product of need more than a reflection of his 2016 performance as Judon collected four sacks and played as well as you could expect from a fifth-round rookie hailing from a Division II program. With Suggs turning 35 in October and Elvis Dumervil potentially being a cap casualty, the Ravens view Judon as their best internal option to boost a pass rush that lacked punch."
2. WR Breshad Perriman"Injuries have stunted his development, but he hasn't shown the route-running ability or hands to make you believe he can be a No. 1 guy, making this a big offseason for him. Of course, this doesn't mean he can't become a productive vertical threat along the lines of former Raven Torrey Smith, but expecting more than that feels too ambitious at this point."
3. LB Kamalei Correa "Whether it's replacing the retired Zach Orr inside or working as an edge defender, Correa should find ample opportunities in 2017 if he's able to play at this level. After spending minimal time with him during the pre-draft process, the Ravens probably weren't thrilled to run into some coachability issues with Correa, but he wouldn't be the first to initially struggle with the maturity learning curve of the NFL."
4. OLB Za'Darius Smith"Appearing on this list two years in a row is never a good sign for a player's development, but Smith was unable to establish himself as an every-down edge defender despite receiving extensive playing time in the absence of Dumervil over the first three months of the season."
5. G Alex Lewis"Like Judon, Lewis' inclusion on this list is a product of circumstance more than his performance as he played respectably as a rookie shifting between left guard and left tackle."
Cleveland Nabbing Tyrod Taylor Would Be 'Bad' For Ravens
The Buffalo Bills must decide if they'll stick with former Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor by March 11, when his contract guarantees him $30.75 million. A renegotiation is possible, but Taylor is reportedly unwilling to take a pay cut.
If Taylor hits the street, or the Bills try to trade him, Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot believes the Browns would be very interested (if they can't land a trade for New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo).
"If I'm the Ravens, I'm hoping that the Buffalo Bills work things out with quarterback Tyrod Taylor and keep him as their starter," wrote Zrebiec. "That wouldn’t be good news for the Ravens, who would have to prepare to play against Taylor twice a season.
"I'm well aware that the Ravens completely shut their former teammate down last September in the season-opening victory against the Bills. However, Taylor pairing with Browns head coach and offensive play caller Hue Jackson would provide some headaches. Jackson's offenses seem to give the Ravens some trouble, regardless of who is at quarterback."
Zrebiec also pointed out that landing Taylor could also deter the Browns from drafting a quarterback with either their No. 1 or No. 12 draft picks. The more QBs selected before the Ravens are on the clock, the better. It helps push top talent at other positions down the board.