Peter King Predicts Ravens Might Trade Up for Inside Linebacker
The Ravens reportedly added depth at inside linebacker over the weekend by signing Jake Ryan to a one-year deal, but pundits don't expect it to change the team's draft plans.
In fact, NBC Sports' Peter King still has the Ravens selecting Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray in the first round.
"My bet is the Ravens might try to move up a few slots to steal Murray; he's the best pure linebacker in the draft, a sideline to sideline menace, and would be a godsend for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to use as a chess piece," King wrote. "He's also a future NFL Man of the Year, a totally too-good-to-be-true guy who helps his parents raise three siblings with special needs. Murray to the Ravens is a football match made in heaven. I'd love to see it happen."
"Ryan's ceiling is certainly not that of some of the top linebacker prospects in the draft, and chances are that Baltimore envisions him competing with Chris Board and Otaro Alaka for a spot further down the depth chart," Ebony Bird's Michael Natelli wrote. "It also shouldn't stop the Ravens from drafting Murray or [Patrick] Queen if they're available at the 28th spot."
Murray and Queen remain two of the most popular picks for the Ravens in the first round. General Manager Eric DeCosta said they're two of the best inside linebackers in the draft, but there's no guarantee they'll be available by the time Baltimore is on the clock.
Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz alluded to the fact that the Ravens might not feel the need to take a first-round linebacker.
"I think when we look at the board, there's obviously guys who can do all three things — play the run, cover and blitz — but I think when we look at the guys throughout the draft, there are players that can help us in specific roles," Hortiz said. "There are guys in the mid-rounds that can come in and cover, maybe play the run."
DeCosta Shows Off Virtual Draft Room
DeCosta has been a part of many drafts throughout his career, but this one will be different. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the entire process virtual and Thursday will be a new experience for every team.
How will that look for the second-year general manager? DeCosta joined ESPN's "NFL Live" to give a tour of his virtual draft room.
"I think we're getting there," DeCosta said. "There's always going to be some apprehension. We're basically relying on technology, and we're relying on a bunch of people that are kind of connected remotely working together.
"I think there's some kinks to the process that we're working out. I think in the end, you really do have a lot of comfort in the process [and] the evaluations. We'll always rely on that first and foremost. And we'll have to work on that as a team."
On DeCosta's desk are four monitors and a laptop. There's a separate camera that allows the league and various media networks to monitor his actions throughout the draft. DeCosta said he also installed a television monitor in the corner of the office to make sure he can watch ESPN.
It won't be the same as sitting in the war room, but DeCosta expressed optimism in making the process as normal as possible.
"We're not really feeling like we're missing too much," DeCosta said. "... We can see how many picks a team has for instance, what picks a team has made by position, all the picks as they come off, how much time is on the clock.
"I think our analysts have done a great job at creating some software that will help us remotely look at trades as they come in to give us a chance to evaluate all the different trades that we see come off the board."
With an entirely virtual draft, the league is preparing for potential hiccups. They've already told reporters they'll have the ability to stop the draft clock if teams experience technical issues.
DeCosta said the Ravens are putting the finishing touches to their draft board this week. And if all else fails trying to submit their picks, they'll resort to a phone call.
"I would probably just get on my phone, call [NFL Vice President of Player Personnel] Ken Fiore and say, 'Kenny, this is who we're picking,'" DeCosta said. "... We've done a really good job preparing for all of the different possibilities. … Coach [John] Harbaugh only lives about maybe 150 yards away from me. If anything really, really bad happens, we can kind of meet halfway to talk about our strategies."
PFF: Ravens Have Most Opportunity for Rookie Wide Receivers
It's almost a guarantee the Ravens will take a wide receiver at some point during the draft. According to Pro Football Focus' Kevin Cole, they have the most opportunity for rookie talent at the position.
"The Ravens are projected to be one of the least productive receiver groups in the NFL, as the team relies heavily on the run and Lamar Jackson relies more heavily on tight ends," Cole wrote. "Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown is the team's only viable wide receiver according to ADP, but even he doesn't crack the top-30 in terms of ADP.
"[T]he roster is wide open for the addition of a higher-volume receiver to work underneath while Brown takes the top off of defenses."
The Ravens doubled-dipped at receiver with Brown and Miles Boykin last year. With five picks in the first three rounds, they've set themselves up with the opportunity to do it again.
The draft's top three receivers, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs will likely be off the board by the first 15 picks. There's also recent buzz that LSU's Justin Jefferson is very high on draft boards.
The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia predicted the Ravens will select Colorado's Laviska Shenault in the first round, but his colleague, Jeff Zrebiec, doesn't think the Ravens necessarily need a receiver in the first two rounds.
"I don't think that's a formality, just because the wide receiver depth in this class is so strong and teams feel like they can find a starting-caliber receiver as late as the third round," Zrebiec wrote. "It drives fans nuts to hear this, but I do think they'll stick to their board and not chase a position. However, they'll go into the draft with receivers they are willing to take in the first round, if the board falls in a certain way, and in the second round as well. Not sure they'll double up that early, but there's certainly a decent chance they take one in the first two rounds."
Other receivers who Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz highlighted as potential fits at 28 include Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk, Baylor's Denzel Mims, Clemson's Tee Higgins, and USC's Michael Pittman Jr.
Could Ravens Be in the Market for Jamal Adams Again?
Before last year's trade deadline, the Ravens were reportedly eyeing a trade for New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. A deal never happened, but Baltimore could have another chance at acquiring the All-Pro safety this offseason.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Adams isn't expected to participate in the Jets' voluntary virtual offseason program and the two sides haven't made any progress on an extension.
Adams still has two years left on his rookie contract, including a fifth-year option.
Complex's Zach Frydenlund named the Ravens as a team that should try to trade for Adams.
"How crazy would an Earl Thomas and Adams secondary be?" Frydenlund wrote. "The Ravens have always been known for their hard-hitting defenses, and Adams would be a perfect player for their system. Who knows if the Ravens would be willing to give up assets to then pay Adams, but this would surely keep them as one of the best defenses in the NFL."
The Ravens extended Chuck Clark this offseason and have made it a priority for the secondary to be one of the team's strengths.
The Jets reportedly wanted multiple first-round picks for Adams in October. There's no telling if that price tag has changed, but adding a dynamic talent like that would be a huge boost for any team.
"While a trade seems unlikely, it can't be ruled out," ESPN's Rich Cimini wrote. "Remember, Jets general manager Joe Douglas entertained offers last fall for Adams at the trading deadline. If a team calls, he won't hang up. Douglas and CEO Christopher Johnson are on record as saying they want to make Adams a Jet for life, but life can change quickly in the NFL."
- King said the Ravens are one of two teams who could draft Jalen Hurts.
- According to Variety.com, Jackson finished third in merchandise sales behind Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.