Could Reported Medical Issues Affect Terrace Marshall Jr.'s Draft Stock?
LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. has been projected as the Ravens' first-round pick more than any other player, but his stock may be falling due to reported medical issues.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said on a conference call (per The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer) that some medical issues "popped" regarding Marshall at the medical combine in Indianapolis earlier this month.
The Athletic's Dane Brugler replied via Twitter that he's "heard similar" about Marshall and it's why he dropped Marshall in his latest draft rankings (Sharp has Marshall at No. 48 on his big board).
Marshall missed time in high school and college because of foot and leg injuries. He underwent foot surgery during the 2019 season at LSU that sidelined him for three weeks.
"Marshall has appeared in many first-round mock drafts this offseason, but in a deep receiver class he could slide into Day 2 if teams have concerns about the injuries," Ryan McCrystal of Sharp Football Analysis wrote. NBC Sports' Warren Sharp wrote.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Marshall ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. In his final two seasons at LSU, Marshall had 94 catches for 1,402 yards and 23 touchdowns.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Ravens selecting Marshall 27th overall in every one of his mock drafts.
"I like the fact that he has the kind of size they want and has the production already behind him, both at the high school level and college level," Kiper said on "The Lounge" podcast. " … He can play slot, he can play wide, he can do things versatility-wise that you need. I think he's NFL ready."
Pundit Says Edge Rusher Is Top Need, But History Says Ravens Won't Take One in First Round
Other than wide receiver, edge rusher has been the position most frequently mocked to the Ravens at No. 27 overall.
However, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said that while the Ravens' biggest need is an impact edge rusher, it would be atypical for them to address the position in the first round.
"A dynamic edge rusher who can disrupt the quarterback stands as the Ravens' biggest need heading into next Thursday's first round, but the organization's history suggests it won't necessarily be its top priority, at least not with its pick at 27th overall," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens haven't used a first-rounder on an edge rusher since they took Terrell Suggs 10th overall in the 2003 draft. The only other time their first-round pick was an outside linebacker was Peter Boulware in 1997."
The question of whether pass rush or pass coverage is more important in today's NFL has been often asked. Zrebiec said it's obvious the Ravens believe it's the latter.
"Ravens officials have never provided a definitive verbal answer, but it's not hard to reach a conclusion on where they stand based on the front office's actions," Zrebiec wrote. "In recent offseasons, the team's decision-makers have made sure they remained well-stocked at cornerback while allowing several high-priced edge rushers to leave and replacing them with cheaper alternatives."
Zrebiec pointed out that the Ravens' philosophy regarding edge rushers could be in reaction to the trend of quarterbacks getting the ball out quicker and sack numbers dropping significantly over the past two seasons.
Still, he emphasized that an outstanding edge rusher, whether acquired through the draft (which has a deep edge rusher class) or free agency (veteran Justin Houston reportedly visited the Ravens last week), is what the Ravens need to make their good defense even better.
"The strength of the cornerback group allows them to play the style of defense that they do, and it's hard to argue with the results," Zrebiec wrote. "Over the past three seasons with [Wink] Martindale at defensive coordinator, the Ravens are at or near the top of the league in many of the relevant statistical categories. But there is obviously a downside to being so dependent on blitzing and not having an elite, in-his-prime edge rusher
"Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Ravens are first in the NFL with 73 sacks off of the blitz since 2018. However, they are last with just 45 sacks off of a four-man rush during that span. Their defensive style has been no match in three consecutive years for the Chiefs, whose star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, has repeatedly picked apart Ravens blitzes. The Ravens will ultimately have to get by the Chiefs if they're going to make a playoff run, which is why the next three weeks could be especially important."
Ravens Have Three Players in Top 10 Under 25, Including No. 1
A testament to how well the Ravens draft and develop players is the fact that three Ravens made the top 10 in Bleacher Report's rankings of the top 25 players under 25.
Lamar Jackson, 24, is No. 1 on the list, one spot ahead of Buffalo Bills quarterback and fellow 2018 first-round pick Josh Allen.
"It's a safe bet that if there was a do-over of the 2018 NFL draft, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson would be taken earlier than 32nd," Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport wrote. "If he can get his passing production anywhere near what he has accomplished on the ground, we'll be talking about him as an all-time great."
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey and offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. — also both 24 — were ranked eighth and ninth, respectively.
"Marlon Humphrey is one of the league's more underrated young players," Davenport wrote. "Over his first four seasons, the Ravens standout has emerged as one of the most talented, versatile corners in the NFL.
"Brown has allowed just three sacks in each of the past two seasons, per [Pro Football Focus], and is a top-10 (if not top-five) tackle just entering his prime who has extensive experience playing both tackle spots."
Not only were the Ravens the only team to have more than one player in the top 10, but no other team had more than two players in the top 25.
Ravens Are Last in CBS Sports Pundit's AFC North Rankings Heading Into Draft
Speaking of rankings, the Ravens didn't fare well in CBS Sports' Bryan DeArdo's rankings of the AFC North teams, which he based on how each team's offseason has gone heading into the draft.
DeArdo ranked the Ravens last, concluding that they "need to make a splash" in the draft. The Cleveland Browns were No. 1 in his rankings, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.
"The Ravens suffered big losses with the departures of linebackers Jihad Ward, Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon and center Matt Skura," DeArdo wrote. "They're also bracing themselves for the likely departure of Orlando Brown Jr. after the two-time Pro Bowler expressed his desire to move from left to right tackle. The Ravens have also done little to address their needs at safety."
While these rankings shouldn't be taken too seriously, a case certainly could be made that the Ravens have had a productive offseason despite the aforementioned departures.
DeArdo did acknowledge that re-signing linebackers Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe were good moves, as were the additions of offensive guard Kevin Zeitler and wide receiver Sammy Watkins.