Real Winner Of Mega Trades? The Ravens, Who Will Now Get An Absolute Stud
As analysts around the league debate who got the better end of the Titans-Rams trade, and now the more recent Browns-Eagles trade, I can give you the definitive answer.
It's the Ravens.
While they officially hold the No. 6 spot in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Ravens are in position one of their top-four players because quarterbacks are now virtually guaranteed to be selected with the top two picks.
Oh, and Baltimore is going to get an absolute stud.
Below are live looks at how Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs and Ozzie Newsome reacted to the news:
As ESPN's Jamison Hensley pointed out, Baltimore will have its choice between two of the following five prospects who could fill major needs on the roster:
Need: Stop the revolving door at left tackle since Jonathan Ogden retired in 2007.
Answer: Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil, who some have called the best left tackle in the last five to seven drafts. Tunsil could start right away and continue for the next decade.
Need: A playmaker to help pull the defense out of the NFL's last place in interceptions (six last season).
Answer: Defensive back Jalen Ramsey, a world-class athlete and likely future Pro Bowler that would team-up wonderfully with Eric Weddle and Jimmy Smith. I'm drooling just thinking about it.
Need: Fill Chris Canty's role on the defensive line.
Answer: Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, a disruptive force in the trenches. He can also bring pressure from the middle, as evidenced by his 10.5 sacks with the Ducks last year. Pairing Buckner with Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan would give the Ravens a dominant defensive line.
Need: Add speed to the middle of the defense and replace Daryl Smith at inside linebacker.
Answer: UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, who would be the perfect complement to third-year veteran C.J. Mosley. The athletic Jack would be a major boon in coverage. If it weren't for a knee injury sustained early last year, the Ravens may not have even had a chance to take this incredible playmaker.
Need: Bolster the pass rush and establish the future of the outside linebacker position.
Answer: Ohio State's Joey Bosa, who is the top prospect overall in the draft in some analysts' eyes. Bosa would immediately make the life of opposing quarterbacks more difficult, and could be a foundational piece of the defense as Terrell Suggs (34) and Elvis Dumervil (32) are entering the twilight of their careers.
Rapoport: Chargers, Ravens Getting Trade Calls
For all intents and purposes, the San Diego Chargers are now on the clock with the third-overall pick. And, they are open for business.
The team has been open to dealing its draft pick, and is now* *receiving interest from teams both outside and inside the top 10 of the draft, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
"The Chargers have already spoken to several teams looking to move up," Rapoport said. "This will only increase, only get hotter as the draft nears."
San Diego currently has it's pick of the best non-quarterback on the draft board. But with five or so elite positional players available, they could trade back and still get one.
But guess what? It's a decision the Chargers may not be alone in evaluating. Other teams' phones are also ringing, including the Ravens', per Rapoport.
"Every other spot early in the top 10, whether it's the Cowboys, the Jaguars, the Ravens all are receiving phone calls from teams who now believe that top-end talent could be available to them where they didn't think it would be before just because it is so obvious now that two quarterbacks are going 1-2," he said. "And Paxton Lynch could go in the top 10 as well, leaving a bunch of position players available to teams that didn't think they had a shot at."
Well this is just getting crazy, and we're still a week before the draft actually begins. Will the Ravens stand pat at No. 6 and take the best player available? Or will they try to get their man while also hoarding picks along the way?
"These two blockbuster trades have made it increasingly more difficult for Baltimore to consider falling back, given that the Ravens are now guaranteed of drafting an elite player," wrote Hensley. "As it stands now, Baltimore can expect to get either Tunsil or an impact defender."
Would Ravens Consider Jaylon Smith If He Falls To Round 4?
If Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith didn't blow up his knee in January at the Fiesta Bowl, he would likely be among the Ravens' choices at the No. 6 pick.
With reported nerve damage and the unlikelihood of playing in 2016, Smith could fall to Day 3 of the draft. It's such a sad, sad story for one of college's best players.
If Smith makes it to the fourth round, CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown says the Ravens will have a tough decision.
"[H]ere's why Smith may still fit the Ravens," he wrote. "They have four fourth-round picks, giving them leeway to take a risk with one of them. There's no doubt about Smith's talent or character. The Ravens need help at inside linebacker after letting Daryl Smith go, especially if they don't get UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.
"If the Ravens feel good about their first three picks, then Smith could be a long-range project who could eventually pay dividends."
New Revelations About How 1996 Draft Built Ravens Franchise
I won't be able to do justice to Jeff Zrebiec's feature in The Baltimore Sun on the Ravens' 1996 draft, so here's the link with my strong encouragement to click through and read the whole thing.
It's a good read about how General Manager Ozzie Newsome selected two Hall of Famers with his first two picks, Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, and how that built the Ravens franchise going forward.
We all know the story of how Newsome selected Ogden over running back Lawrence Phillips despite Owner Art Modell's preference. But Zrebiec revealed a new tidbit about how Newsome also ignored a bluff from the Arizona Cardinals, who left a draft card in the Ravens' sight with Phillips' name on it.
Newsome also changed Bill Belichick's evaluation system, which would have downgraded Lewis for being a shorter linebacker. Newsome allowed his scouts to speak their mind, and they vouched for Lewis.
"Whatever comes of the history of the Ravens in Baltimore, that day will forever be the reason why this franchise is where it's at," Lewis said. "All because of the genius of Ozzie Newsome."