The 'Obvious' Ravens Draft Picks
The NFL Draft is just over a month away, and The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec believes the Ravens' preferences are strongly tilted in one direction.
After sitting down with Owner Steve Bisciotti at the owners meetings last week for a joint interview with the team website, Zrebiec gets a sense that the Ravens want to go defense with the No. 6 overall pick.
"There will be plenty of talk about taking the 'best player available,' but it seems that everybody around the Ravens sure hopes that 'best player' plays defense," Zrebiec wrote. "Bisciotti's comments last week made it even clearer that the team is focused on adding impact defensive players in next month's NFL draft."
The biggest question is whether a defensive player that the Ravens covet is still on the board when they are on the clock. Bisciotti already said he doesn't expect to move up in the draft, so the Ravens are going to wait patiently and see who comes off the board in front of them.
Ohio State's Joey Bosa, UCLA's Myles Jack or Florida State's Jalen Ramsey "would be obvious picks for the Ravens," Zrebiec wrote, "yet it's possible all three could go in the top five. Ramsey almost certainly will."
All three of those prospects would fill needs on the roster.
Bosa is a pass rusher who could also step into the outside linebacker spot vacated by Courtney Upshaw. Jack is a versatile linebacker who could start alongside C.J. Mosley now that Daryl Smith is gone. Ramsey is the prototypical defensive back that NFL teams want, and he would quickly solidify Baltimore's secondary.
Another prospect often mentioned as one of the top defenders in the draft is Oregon's defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. The 6-foot-7 lineman has the physical tools to be an immediate contributor, but Zrebiec notes "it isn't apparent how [Buckner] fits into the Ravens' equation, given that an interior defensive lineman isn't a need."
Focusing on defensive players may come as a bit of a surprise because many of the mock drafts have the Ravens taking Notre Dame's left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 pick. He is widely considered the second-best left tackle in the draft behind Ole Miss's Laremy Tunsil, but Zrebiec isn't buying the Stanley talk.
"I've just never gotten the impression that he would be their top choice at No. 6," Zrebiec wrote. "The sense I get is that other options would have to go off the board for the Ravens to choose Stanley."
Harbaugh Approaches Football As Family
This weekend was difficult for the Ravens organization.
A group of more than 40 people, including Head Coach John Harbaugh, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and a number of teammates, attended Tray Walker's funeral in Miami.
The 23-year-old was laid to rest after a motorbike accident last week, and the Ravens poured in from all over the country to support their teammate's grieving family. Harbaugh was one of nine people to deliver a eulogy for Walker, and he recalled his first time meeting Walker, "The first thing I noticed was that smile – that big Tray Walker smile."
The week since Walker's accident has challenged the team and the organization, and Harbaugh's response to the tragedy has illustrated to ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg how the Ravens coach "is one of the few men in the NFL who approaches his job less like a CEO and more like the patriarch of a large family."
Van Valkenburg pointed to the letter Harbaugh wrote to the team after Walker's accident as an example of his approach.
"In his letter, Harbaugh talked about looking after the people you love, about walking away from trouble, about considering the consequences of your actions," Van Valkenburg wrote.
"It was less a lecture and more of a plea."
The NFL is often called a cold business, where players are expendable. But that has never been the culture Harbaugh has built in Baltimore.
"Away from the field, he is loyal and loving in ways that make him unique in his profession," Van Valkenburg wrote. "The past two weeks have been a great example of that."
How Will Losing Upshaw Impact Compensatory Picks?
Whenever the Ravens lose a free agent, the first question always seems to be, "How does this impact our chance of getting compensatory picks next year?"
That was the case again Friday night when Upshaw reached a deal with the Atlanta Falcons. The fifth-year defender found a home in Atlanta after never missing a game with the Ravens.
The financial terms of the contract have not been released, which prevents us from getting a clear picture of exactly how – or if – his departure will help the Ravens get a comp pick in return, but Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland explained what Upshaw's deal needs to look like for that to happen.
The Ravens have a history of racking up comp picks every offseason by allowing some of their home-grown players to walk in free agency, but Bisciotti acknowledged at last week's league meetings that his team may end up without any in 2017 because of the moves it made in free agency.
The Ravens have lost left guard Kelechi Osemele and now Upshaw, but signing tight end Benjamin Watson and safety Eric Weddle as unrestricted free agents counted against the formula to get back comp picks.
The size of a player's contract has a direct effect on whether the team he leaves will get back a comp pick, so Ravens fans should hope that Upshaw signed a lucrative contract with the Falcons.