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Late for Work 4/23: Odds Say Ravens Have to Trade Up If They Want Kenneth Murray


Odds Say Ravens Will Have to Trade Up If They Want Kenneth Murray

Even if Ravens fans have never watched a single Oklahoma football game in recent years, they probably feel like they know inside linebacker Kenneth Murray intimately at this point. Murray is one of the players most frequently linked to the Ravens in the first round of mock drafts. 

However, the odds of Murray being available at No. 28, where the Ravens are slotted to pick tonight, aren't good. There's just a 19-percent chance Murray will still be on the board at that point, according to ESPN's NFL Draft Predictor.

The chances of the Ravens landing two other players who have been mocked to them at No. 28 – outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson of LSU (16 percent) and his former college teammate, wide receiver Justin Jefferson (15 percent) – are even worse.

Rather than staying in their slot or trading back, don't be surprised if the Ravens make a "risky" move to get one of those "true difference-makers," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. With Baltimore owning nine picks in this year's draft, it has the resources to move up if it decides to go that route.

"It has been 11 years since the Baltimore Ravens traded up from their original spot to draft a player. That might change in the 2020 NFL draft," Hensley wrote. "… The Ravens are coming off a 14-2 season and have only two more seasons with [Lamar] Jackson under a cap-friendly rookie deal. This seems like the time for Baltimore to take a gamble and do what it takes to get a playmaker like Chaisson, Murray or Jefferson."

General Manager Eric DeCosta has said trading up is "a little bit risky," adding that it's generally a 50-50 proposition.

"The Ravens have fared better than that," Hensley wrote. "In their 24-year history, they've traded up from their original selection in the first round three times and landed an immediate, long-term starter each time.

"Baltimore moved up to get five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in 2006 and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Joe Flacco in 2008. The Ravens didn't get the same value out of jumping up for [offensive tackle Michael] Oher in 2009, but he is arguably the best right tackle in team history."

Hensley isn't alone in his thinking that the Ravens may move up to get Murray. As noted in Monday’s Late for Work, NBC Sports' Peter King predicted Baltimore tries to "move up a few slots to steal Murray."

In The Athletic's beat writer mock draft, the Ravens traded the No. 28 pick and a fourth- and fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in order to select Murray at No. 25. (Incidentally, the fifth-round pick would be the one the Ravens got from Minnesota for kicker Kaare Vedvik.)

"Instead of the Ravens crossing their fingers that Murray lands to them at No. 28, they go and get their guy," The Athletic's Dane Brugler wrote. "And the fit is perfect as Murray can play inside or outside in Baltimore's scheme, using his play speed and competitive energy to make plays."

Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Hanson also had the Ravens trading up for Murray in his final mock draft. In his scenario, Baltimore sent it's first-round pick and a third-rounder to the New England Patriots for the 23rd-overall pick.

"If only one linebacker is off the board through the first 22 picks, the Ravens could be aggressive to target one here," Hanson wrote. "… A tackling machine for the Sooners, Murray has the non-stop motor, sideline-to-sideline range and leadership to become an impact defender in the middle of the Ravens defense."

NFL Network's Brian Baldinger had a different take. He acknowledged that inside linebacker is the most obvious position of need for the Ravens, but wondered if they would move up to grab South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

"If a Javon Kinlaw somehow got to No. 20, the Ravens have a lot of ammunition here in the third and fourth rounds," Baldinger said on Glenn Clark Radio. "I mean, would they move up to get a guy like Javon Kinlaw that is just a man-child inside? They might be drafting the next Haloti Ngata if he was still around. I'm not going to say anybody's Ngata at this point, but he has that type of physical prowess about him."

What a Dream Draft for the Ravens Would Look Like

Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz came up with a dream scenario in which everything went right for the Ravens in the draft. Here are some excerpts:

Round 1, Pick 28: Jefferson: "Assuming there's little-to-no chance that CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs falls to No. 28, the Ravens would be thrilled to see Jefferson in that spot. He's a 6-foot-1, 202-pound polished route runner with a knack for getting open and an ability to pull down contested catches even when he doesn't. … If other wide receiver-needy teams drafting in the 20s — like the Vikings and Eagles — decide they can wait to take a wideout, it's possible to fathom this string of luck playing out for Baltimore."

Round 2, Pick 55: Cesar Ruiz, C/G, Michigan: "While analysts view Ruiz as a potential first-round target for the Ravens, it's fair to point out that some scouts believe he lacks top-tier technique and many teams don't place great value on interior offensive lineman. Meanwhile, Baltimore could jump at the chance to take Ruiz in the back half of the second round as it aims to replace Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda."

Round 2, Pick 60: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin: "Baun's also been linked to the Ravens as a first-round option in various mock drafts. The question at hand is whether most teams view Baun's positional versatility as a plus or if they see him as a tweener who doesn't fit all that well into any specific role in an NFL defense. … Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale should have no trouble making use of Baun's skill set."

Round 3, Pick 92: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech: "In an ideal scenario, the Ravens will address their lack of clarity at inside linebacker without reaching. And Brooks checks all the boxes General Manager Eric DeCosta laid out for a player at the position: He's versatile, durable, athletic and strong."

Round 3, Pick 106: James Lynch, DT, Baylor: "Lynch could slip into the back half of the third round, because other interior defenders in the draft class (Raekwon Davis, Justin Madubuike, Neville Gallimore) carry more explosiveness. It's hard to find any player who matches Lynch's 2019 production, though."

The rest of the Ravens' selections in Kasinitz's scenario were: Round 4, Pick 129: Terrell Burgess, S, Utah; Round 4, Pick 134: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame; Round 5, Pick 170: Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Kentucky; and Round 7, Pick 225: Darryl Williams, OL, Mississippi State.

Should Ravens Pursue Trade for O.J. Howard?

The Ravens' three-headed tight end monster is now a two-headed monster after the offseason trade of Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons. Could the Ravens replace one former first-round tight end with another?

There's speculation that Tampa Bay tight end O.J. Howard could be on the trading block in light of the Buccaneers' acquisition of Rob Gronkowski. In fact, the Bucs were looking to trade Howard even before the Gronkowski deal, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi reported on “The GM Shuffle” podcast.

Ravens Wire’s Kevin Oestreicher said the Ravens trading for Howard would make sense at the right price. Howard, the 19th-overall selection in 2017 out of Alabama, is in the final year of his rookie contract.

"In trading for Gronkowski, the Buccaneers lowered Howard's trade value. … Though Baltimore got a second-round pick in return for Hurst, Howard could come a lot cheaper right ahead of the draft," Oestreicher wrote. "A late fourth-round pick might be enough to get the trade done, which would be a small price for a proven player, especially with a lackluster draft class at tight end and an even weaker free-agent market.

"As long as the Ravens pay less in a trade for Howard than they received for Hurst, it would be a net positive for them. They'd have replaced a starting-quality tight end with a starting-quality tight end while gaining extra draft capital. That's the type of magic we've come to expect from Baltimore's front office."

For his career, Howard has 94 catches for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns in 38 games. After scoring six touchdowns as a rookie and five his second season, he found the end zone just once in 2019.

"Though he hasn't lived up to that draft status, his career hasn't been a total bust," Oestreicher wrote. "… He's extremely athletic and a proficient route runner. While he's struggled with drops at times, he's also flashed the potential to be an elite receiving target."

Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr believes Howard could benefit from a change of scenery.

"Perhaps life outside of the Jameis Winston show will be fortuitous for Howard, who came out of college as both an adept blocker and receiver," Orr wrote.

Would Ravens Have Interest in Percy Harvin?

There's another former first-round pick the Ravens may want to take a flyer on: wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin. Harvin, the 22nd-overall pick in 2009, has been out of the league since 2016, but the 32-year-old told ESPN's Josina Anderson he wants to make a comeback.

Harvin played eight seasons with the Vikings, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, scoring 25 touchdowns (20 receiving, four on kickoff returns) over his first four seasons. He played just seven games in his final two seasons before retiring due to lingering hip and knee injuries.

Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw thinks Harvin would be a great fit with the Ravens.

"It seems logical that a team contending for a championship now would be the most likely to add Percy Harvin," Bradshaw wrote. "It also makes sense that that team could use Harvin to put them over the top offensively and perhaps give them a spark on special teams. Based on that criteria, the Baltimore Ravens seem to be a great fit for Percy Harvin.

"Harvin would be a low-risk, high-reward move. It's unlikely Harvin would cost anything more than the veteran's minimum and would be an easy cut if the move didn't bear any fruit. His upside is likely limited [but] Percy Harvin's athleticism is still there; you don't just lose the kind of special talent that he is. … Harvin was made for this kind of versatile offense. Baltimore would be able to get him the ball in a variety of ways and get him back to the dangerous player he once was."

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