Five Ravens Who Could Be Impacted by the Draft
The start of the NFL Draft is just six days away, and by now you've seen countless mock drafts and endless speculation about which prospects the Ravens will draft, which positions they'll prioritize, and whether they'll attempt to move up or down in the first round.
As a change of pace, rather than looking at who will be added to the roster, WNST's Luke Jones analyzed how the draft could affect certain young players already on the roster.
It's widely believed the Ravens will select a wide receiver early in the draft – perhaps in the first round with the 28th-overall pick – and possibly come away with multiple pass-catchers. How that unfolds will impact second-year wide receiver Miles Boykin.
"The 2019 third-round pick from Notre Dame flashed some big-play ability with four receptions of 18 or more yards as a rookie, but he registered just 13 catches while playing 425 offensive snaps in the regular season," Jones wrote. "At worst, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound wideout with good straight-line speed remains an attractive deep-ball option, but Baltimore using a first- or second-round pick in such a deep receiver class would likely indicate less confidence in Boykin taking a big step forward this season."
Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta expressed confidence in Boykin during the NFL Combine in February.
"Very, very excited about Miles," DeCosta said. "He made some big plays for us throughout the course of the year. We expect him to improve quite a bit with an offseason. He's a big and strong and fast, physical guy. Great attitude. The second year for most receivers is critical. We think he'll make a big jump."
Running back obviously is not an area of need for the Ravens, who return their top three running backs – Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill – from last season's offense, which set the single-season record for rushing yards. Still, some mock drafts have the Ravens selecting a running back in the first round, such as Georgia's D'Andre Swift or Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor.
Hill, a 2019 fourth-round pick from Oklahoma State, was used sparingly last year, but he scored a touchdown in each of the final two regular-season games.
"Hill's 66 touches as a rookie were more a product of there being only one football to go around, but he flashed over the final couple games after the calf injury to Pro Bowl veteran Mark Ingram and could be in line for an increased share of carries in 2020," Jones wrote. "His 200-pound build doesn't suggest his surprising ability to break tackles, but the Ravens refraining from adding a late Day 2 or early Day 3 running back would bode well for Hill's status for the next year or two."
The retirement of eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda has left a huge void. It seemingly creates an opportunity for Ben Powers, but the Ravens will need to address the position in the draft as well.
"The 2019 fourth-round pick from Oklahoma was inactive for the first 15 games before playing an effective 30 snaps in the Week 17 finale against Pittsburgh, which isn't a sample on which to make a confident decision," Jones wrote. "The Ravens could target an offensive tackle to move inside, or Michigan's Cesar Ruiz in the first round, or look to Day 2 for an option like Ohio State's Jonah Jackson or Temple's Matt Hennessy, but the longer they wait would be a greater endorsement for Powers' starting chances."
On defense, Jones identified safety DeShon Elliott, a 2018 sixth-round pick from Texas, and outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson, a 2019 third-rounder out of Louisiana Tech, as players who could be impacted by what the Ravens do in the draft.
"[Elliott] flashed range and physicality over his first two offseasons, but injuries have limited him to just six career games as he suffered a season-ending knee injury last October and sat out his rookie year with a broken forearm," Jones wrote. "… The Ravens spending a draft pick at safety over the first half of the draft wouldn't be the best sign for Elliott."
On Ferguson, Jones wrote: "The Ravens covet another edge defender to bring more juice to the pass rush opposite Matthew Judon, and Ferguson needs to diversify his technique beyond the bull rush on which he relied heavily in college. There's a drop-off after Ohio State's Chase Young in this draft, but there are other pass-rushing options in the early rounds who could help."
Will Ravens' Secondary Streak End in This Year's Draft?
Possessing arguably the most talented and deepest secondary in the league, the Ravens appear to have the luxury of focusing on more pressing needs in the draft. Could the Ravens' nine-year streak of selecting a defensive back within the first four rounds end this year?
"The Ravens own seven picks over the first four rounds, and it'd be unwise to assume they won't use one of those selections on a defensive back," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "This pattern is a result of both the value the team sees in a strong secondary and its habit of hoarding draft picks.
"Still, Baltimore has five talented starters in the defensive backfield whom it can keep under contract for three more seasons. There's at least a chance the Ravens don't add to their secondary in the first half of the draft next week for the first time since 2010."
Kasinitz noted that the Ravens seem to have incentive to draft a safety who could develop behind Earl Thomas III (who turns 31 next month) and contribute in certain defensive packages, but "with other needs across the roster … it's hardly a formality that Baltimore will go that route."
Although the Ravens have an embarrassment of riches at cornerback, led by All-Pros Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks had the team selecting LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton in the first round in one of his mock drafts, although that was before veteran Jimmy Smith re-signed.
Could Ravens Have Interest in Chris Orr?
With the Ravens lacking depth at inside linebacker, might they be interested in a prospect with a familiar face and last name?
Wisconsin's Chris Orr, brother of former Ravens linebacker and current Ravens coaching analyst Zach Orr, has spent some time at the Ravens training facility in recent years.
"I went out to Baltimore before my sophomore year and then pretty much almost every summer break after that," Chris Orr told Glenn Clark Radio. "I've been out there a few times and was kind of meeting the entire team and seeing how down to earth they all were. [I] peeked through some meetings and talked to Zach a little bit about their playbook and compared them [to Wisconsin]."
Chris Orr, who had 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss for the Badgers last season, wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he had an impressive showing at Wisconsin's pro day, including running a 4.65-second 40-yard dash.
The 6-foot, 224-pound Orr is projected to be drafted no higher than the sixth round, but he believes he has the versatility and intangibles to play in the NFL.
"I feel like I'm pretty good in the run game. I added pass rushing to my skill set. It's helped me out a lot, and I feel pretty solid in coverage," Orr told Sports Illustrated. "My football IQ is a bonus. You're gonna get a head-hunter on special teams, so I feel like I can do a lot."