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Late For Work 3/4: D.K. Metcalf May Have Outrun the Ravens' Draft Range


Ravens May Not Have a Chance to Draft Metcalf After Incredible Combine Performance

In case you missed it, Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend.

At 6-foot-3, 228 pounds, Metcalf grabbed the attention of everyone in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium when he posted a 4.33-second 40-yard dash.

Words can only describe so much when I say that this man is an absolute freak of nature.

The Ravens are in the process of rebuilding their wide receiver unit again this offseason. With the release of Michael Crabtree and John Brown set to become an unrestricted free agent, targeting a talented group of receivers in the draft makes sense.

But the hopes of seeing Metcalf in Baltimore next season are slim.

"D.K. Metcalf's combine performance was historic, but it might not bode well for Ravens fans who hoped the team would take the Ole Miss wide receiver with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round," wrote Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz.

Metcalf's time was the fastest recorded by the NFL Network of a player 225+ pounds.

These kinds of receivers don't come around often and when they do, they're quickly snatched by teams looking to add dynamic playmakers. By all accounts, Metcalf possesses the tools to become a legitimate threat at the next level.

And forget surpassing the Ravens' draft position, pundits believe Metcalf could have solidified himself as a top pick with his combine performance.

"Metcalf not only caught the ball well, but he showed good balance and body control getting in and out of his breaks," wrote NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks. "Given the big-play ability he's previously shown on tape, Metcalf could be a top-10 pick when all is said and done."

"We knew Metcalf was a special athlete … Now, his medical report from teams is going to be important -- remember that he underwent neck surgery in October -- so I want to hear more from people in the league," added ESPN’s Mel Kiper. "But Metcalf is in the top-10 discussion, and that's where I had him in my most recent mock draft."

Expect to see him shooting up countless mock drafts this week.

It seems all but a pipe dream for General Manager Eric DeCosta if Metcalf is his guy but if the Ravens decide to draft a receiver in the first round, there are other options.

Metcalf's former teammate, A.J. Brown has been mocked to Baltimore. Arizona State's N'Keal Harry, NC State's Kelvin Harmon and Iowa State's Hakeem Butler have all been discussed as potential adds in the draft this offseason.

If Not Wide Receiver, Edge Rusher Could Be the First-Round Target

As it's been mentioned countless times, the Ravens have an obvious need at wide receiver but it's far from the only position they could target in the first round.

The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer believes a pass rusher is in play with the amount of talent available.

"Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith is unlikely to re-sign with the Ravens after leading the team with 8½ sacks," Shaffer wrote. "Terrell Suggs is a pending free agent who struggled at times to pressure the edge and turns 37 in October. Defensive end Brent Urban is coming off a 16-start season, the first of his career, in which he proved his worth to the market as a dependable run stopper."

As always, the question of what to do with the Ravens' first-round pick comes down to a matter of relative need. The offense needs wide receivers immediately. The defense could need edge rushers in a matter of weeks. There is significant talent available at both positions in the draft, but more blue-chip pass-rush prospects.

The position is one of the strongest groups in the draft, led by Nick Bosa, who many pundits predict will be the first overall pick when it's all said and done. As Shaffer mentioned, Kentucky's Josh Allen and Michigan's Rashan Gary are not far behind.

All three players are expected to be picked before the Ravens are on the board but Shaffer specifically pointed to Florida's Jachai Polite as an edge rusher who could find his way to Baltimore.

Polite was extremely productive as a junior last season with the Gators. He totaled 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles-for-loss along with six forced fumbles.

While his athleticism is intriguing, Polite posted a 4.84 40-yard dash time at the combine before missing the rest of workouts with a hamstring injury. He was also criticized for poor interviews during the week in Indy.

Decisions surrounding the futures of Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith only further emphasize a potential need at the position early in the draft.

"With the No. 22 pick in April, or perhaps a selection two rounds after that — the Ravens don't have a second-round pick after trading up to take quarterback Lamar Jackson last season — general manager Eric DeCosta probably won't be able to get a pass rusher with cookie-cutter size," Shaffer wrote.

With Salary Cap Announced, Some of Ravens' Decisions Become Clearer

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that the salary cap is set at $188.2 million for the upcoming 2019 season.

It's a 6.2 percent increase from last year's total ($177.2 million) and sets the stage for the new league year on March 13.

So, what exactly does this mean for the Ravens?

Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland shed some light on the never-ending topic and projected the Ravens to have $22.447 million in cap space this offseason.

McFarland's projection took into account factors including Alex Collins' release, Joe Flacco's reported departure, any adjustments along with Restricted Free Agent and Exclusive Rights Free Agent tenders.

The looming decisions surrounding two high-profile RFA's in defensive tackle Michael Pierce and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor become clearer in the eyes of McFarland with the tender amounts official.

He predicts both players will receive second-round tenders, valued at $3.095 million.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec agrees.

Teams have until March 13 to submit their tenders and the deadline is just around the corner.

DeCosta said the Ravens are in the business of keeping good football players – both Pierce and Onwuasor would fit in that category. 4

Quick Hits

John Harbaugh appeared on Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take" Podcast and talked about stories growing up with brother Jim, his path to becoming a head coach, Lamar Jackson's future, the Ravens' offense and much more. It's definitely worth the listen.

Former Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. is a gem and has never been one to hold back. Watch him hilariously tell Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson to ease up on his throws during the combine drills.

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