Looking at Trade Scenarios for Ravens in Both Directions
In yesterday's Late for Work, we spotlighted Peter King's prediction that the Ravens will trade up a few spots in the first round of the draft to land Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. Today, we'll look at other trade scenarios for the Ravens in the first round on Thursday night.
On NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund's list of potential trades that would provide the most value for both teams, she had the Ravens moving up 12 spots in the first round to grab a wide receiver. In her scenario, the Ravens would get the No. 16 overall pick from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the 28th-overall selection and a second-round pick (No. 60 overall).
"Do I think the chances of the Ravens trading UP are high? No, I don't. But Baltimore's biggest win share adds are at WR and LB. Given the context of the market for both positions, and the fact that the Ravens have an extra second-round pick (currently hold Nos. 55 and 60), they should strongly consider adding an impact receiver in the middle of Round 1," Frelund wrote.
"Per my model, at least one of the top five WRs is available at 16th overall in 50 percent of simulations. So if the right receiver should fall to this spot, the Ravens have the flexibility to go up and snag him without emptying the cupboards. Baltimore is one team I fully expect to explore trades in both directions on Day 1."
The Baltimore Sun's C.J. Doon also had the Ravens trading up in his latest mock draft. Doon predicted the Ravens will trade the Nos. 28 and 60 picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars in order to select LSU linebacker Patrick Queen at No. 20.
Queen has been a popular pick for the Ravens in mock drafts at No. 28, but as Doon's mock draft suggested, there's no guarantee he'd still be on the board at that point.
"Though much more likely to trade down than trade up over the years, the Ravens haven't been in this position before: coming off a 14-2 season with a Most Valuable Player quarterback and few holes to fill on the roster," Doon wrote. "If there's a first-round prospect they really want, they have the assets (four picks in the top 100) to trade up for him. Queen's instincts, athleticism and toughness would be a welcome addition to the middle of the defense."
Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens came up with three scenarios in which the Ravens could go in the other direction and trade out of the first round altogether. During the past decade, Baltimore traded out of the first round twice (2010, 2012).
"Unlike the trade-up scenarios, Baltimore isn't likely to find too many teams eyeing up their No. 28 pick given the depth at several positions and the lack of top options at many others. But there are a few teams that could see a player they love fall into the bottom of the first round and look to the Ravens' pick as the best path to that player," Stevens wrote.
Stevens identified Baltimore's potential trade partners as: the Detroit Lions (Ravens receive the No. 35 overall pick and fourth- and fifth-round selections); Indianapolis Colts (Ravens also give up a third-round pick in exchange for the No. 34 overall selection and third- and fifth-round picks); and Houston Texans (Ravens receive the No. 40 overall pick and third- and sixth-round selections).
Ravens Go Safe, Not Sexy, in The Athletic's Mock Draft
With the start of the draft just two days away, the final batch of mock drafts are being released. In The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec's second mock, he has the Ravens selecting Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.
Zrebiec wrote that LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, Queen and Murray "would be no-brainers" for the Ravens, but he doesn't think any will be available at No. 28.
"Ruiz isn't a sexy pick, but he probably has the highest floor of anybody the Ravens could take at this point of the first round and he's the best bet to step in from Day 1 and fill a major need," Zrebiec wrote. "At worst, the Ravens have a solid starting interior offensive lineman for the next four years. At best, they have a future Pro Bowl selection who joins young tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown as mainstays up front.
"Ruiz will start at center on Day 1 if Matt Skura isn't fully recovered from a major knee injury. If Skura is back, Ruiz will slide into the right guard spot vacated by the retired Marshal Yanda. Ruiz is a big, athletic guy who will fit in perfectly with what the Ravens are trying to do offensively. The safe pick can also be the most effective one."
Zrebiec also considered Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Wisconsin outside linebacker Zack Baun, Auburn defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, Penn State outside linebacker Yetur Gross-Matos, Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims and Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins.
"There are a few wide receivers the Ravens would be satisfied with here, but they like guys they could get in the second or third round almost as much," Zrebiec wrote.
One of those receivers could be USC's Michael Pittman Jr., who Zrebiec mocked to the Ravens with their second of two second-round picks (No. 60 overall).
"Pittman had 101 catches and 11 touchdowns in his final season for the Trojans. He's big and physical and he has reliable hands and runs quality routes," Zrebiec wrote. "He doesn't have elite speed, but the Ravens need a possession receiver to complement speedster Marquise Brown. Plus, they can get another speed receiver later in this draft."
With the Ravens' other second-round pick (No. 55), Zrebiec had them selecting Texas Tech inside linebacker Jordyn Brooks.
"There are questions about how he'll do in coverage, but one of the Ravens' biggest needs is an inside linebacker who will hold up against the run," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens need a fast and physical presence inside. Brooks will be able to do that and even if he's not ready to be a three-down linebacker right away, he can grow into that role."
Another Alabama Prospect Who Could Be a Good Fit for Ravens
The Ravens have a history of drafting players from Alabama, especially during the past decade, when they selected seven Crimson Tide players, including two each in 2017 and 2018.
Alabama edge rusher Terrell Lewis has been linked to the Ravens in some mock drafts, but another Crimson Tide edge rusher – Anfernee Jennings – could also be a good fit for Baltimore, according to Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw. Jennings is projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round.
"I'm not sure why Anfernee Jennings is being slept on, but the Baltimore Ravens could find themselves a gem in the third or fourth round," Bradshaw wrote. "Jennings looks like he can be an instant difference-maker on defense and could perhaps even see starting time early on in his career.
"For Baltimore, Jennings would be a rotational piece splitting time with Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson. Jennings might already be on Bowser's level of play and is already ahead of the [curve] when it comes to Ferguson. Jennings could also see some time on special teams, as the Ravens would love to get him on the field as much as possible."
In his last two seasons at Alabama, Jennings recorded 13.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein compared Jennings to NFL veteran Kyle Van Noy.
"His frame (6-foot-2, 256 pounds) and toughness could make him an eventual starter as a run-thumping 3-4 OLB, but he needs more development as a rusher in order to reach his potential," Zierlein wrote.