Pundits Still Expect Ravens to Add Veteran Talent
Eric DeCosta enters his first draft as general manager with plenty of capital to work with – eight picks to be exact.
However, pundits aren't ruling out the likelihood of adding another veteran after the weekend concludes.
"I wouldn't dismiss the possibility of a weekend trade for a veteran or a notable signing after the draft," WNST's Luke Jones wrote. "It's unrealistic to expect this draft to address all of their needs."
The Ravens signed wide receiver Seth Roberts to a one-year deal to help improve the passing game and they could do the same in positions of need following the draft.
The Ravens could look to target a veteran inside linebacker, especially since LSU's Devin White and Michigan's Devin Bush are expected to be off the board by the time they pick at 22.
"Beyond them, there aren't other first-round options," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens don't need to reach because the cupboard isn't bare, but they do need to bring in an inside linebacker at some point during the draft."
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer appeared on the "Ryen Russillo Show" podcast and mentioned a trio of veteran linebackers potentially on the block: Washington's Mason Foster, Jacksonville's Telvin Smith and Cleveland's Joe Schobert. Jets linebacker Darron Lee is also a name to keep an eye on.
The Ravens have followed this formula before, signing Daryl Smith to a one-year contract in 2013 to replace Ray Lewis. Smith started three full seasons in Baltimore.
Breer added that teams looking for skill position talent via trade or free agency might be out of luck.
"The sense I get is that it's going to be tough to come by because the draft is so weak in those positions this year," Breer said. "Teams that might have a good second receiver, because the draft is weak this year, might be a little less willing to move those guys."
Drafting a Cornerback Always in Play
When ranking the Ravens' draft needs, cornerback is towards the bottom. But as we know, the front office values depth in the secondary and drafting a cornerback is always in play.
"Cornerback is the roster's deepest position group, but Brandon Carr will be 33 next month and Jimmy Smith turns 31 in July and is entering the final year of his contract," Jones wrote. "In other words, I wouldn't at all be surprised if the Ravens take a corner in the middle rounds."
Ozzie Newsome selected Marlon Humphrey in the first round of the 2016 Draft even after the Ravens signed Brandon Carr to a four-year deal and had Jimmy Smith. The Ravens have taken a cornerback in seven of the last eight drafts, and gathering a pool of young talent at the position helps prepare for any impending departures down the road.
"It's probably their deepest position to the point where it's already going to be hard for them to keep all of whom they'd like to keep on the regular-season roster," Zrebiec wrote. "Team officials, though, believe in taking a cornerback every year, because of the importance and volatility of the position. Not having enough cornerback depth has cost the Ravens' games and seasons in the past, and they don't want to return to that world. Also, Smith, Canady, Jean-Baptiste and Jones are all eligible for free agency next offseason and the Ravens will have a decision to make on Carr's contract option, too."
Zrebiec also noted that he wouldn't be surprised to see the Ravens take a chance on a flyer between the fourth and sixth rounds.
The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer, who released his seven-round Ravens mock drat yesterday, has the Ravens doing just that by selecting Boston College corner Hamp Cheevers in the sixth round.
The Case to Trade Up?
Trading back has been the common theme for the Ravens leading up to the draft tomorrow night, but DraftWire's Luke Easterling went against the norm.
Easterling has the Ravens trading with the Vikings to move up four spots to No. 18 to select Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
"Lamar Jackson desperately needs a true No. 1 receiver, and if Metcalf continues to slide down the board, the Ravens need to pull the trigger when he gets close enough to move up," Easterling wrote.
Metcalf's been continuously mocked to the Ravens in the first round. Following Frank Clark's trade from the Seahawks to the Chiefs, Easterling still has the Ravens taking Metcalf, but at their original draft position.
Shaffer also picked Metcalf in his seven-round mock: "The polarizing prospect has fallen down draft boards in recent weeks, and he could be there for the taking at No. 22 — or maybe even near the start of the second round. The Ravens have targets for quarterback Lamar Jackson in their short- and intermediate-passing game. What they need is a game-breaking wide receiver, and the fully realized version of Metcalf is the closest thing to that in the draft."
Ebony Bird's Ian Schultz remains skeptical.
"Metcalf's freak of nature stature and big play ability make him awfully tempting, but there are too many red flags in his resume to justify the Ravens taking him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft," Schultz wrote.
Picking Up Ronnie Stanley's Fifth-Year Option a 'No Brainer'
The Ravens crossed another item off the offseason checklist yesterday after picking up the fifth-year option of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, keeping him in Baltimore through the 2020 season.
The No. 6-overall pick in the 2016 draft, Stanley has developed into one of the league's top young tackles. He's provided consistency at arguably the most crucial position on the offensive line, protecting Jackson's blindside.
"This decision was pretty much a no brainer, and it's nice to see it finalized relatively early," Baltimore Beatdown's Jacob Louque wrote. "In this respect, Stanley can go into training camp and the subsequent coming season knowing what he has to do to secure a long term deal moving forward."
PennLive's Aaron Kasinitz agreed.
"With Stanley and 2018 third-round pick Orlando Brown bookending the line, the Ravens have a pair of talented young tackles on the roster," Kasinitz wrote.
The next logical step will be securing Stanley's future long-term.
"It's more probable that the Ravens will aim to negotiate a long-term deal with Stanley at some point over the next year and a half to keep him in Charm City well beyond 2020," Kasinitz wrote. "In that case, the Ravens could restructure the contract to soften the blow of Stanley's cap hit for next year."