Draft Rumors Have Begun. Here's The Latest
The draft is tomorrow, and that means the rumor mill is gearing up.
MMQB's Albert Breer and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller shared the latest buzz they're hearing, and there are some interesting notes pertaining to the Ravens.
1) Ravens 'lean toward' a first-round pass rusher
Pass rusher is one of the Ravens' chief needs, so it's no surprise that Baltimore wants to add a high draft pick at that position.
However, there are other major needs on the offensive line, wide receiver and cornerback, and it's unknown which the Ravens see as the biggest.
Miller feels he has some credible information:
"After a big free-agency period in which the team added Tony Jefferson and kept Brandon Williams in town, my scouting source with the Ravens said they'll lean toward pass-rushers in the first round," Miller reports.
According to most mock drafts, there will be plenty to choose from in the first round, including Temple's Haason Reddick, Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Missouri's Charles Harris, UCLA's Takkarist McKinley, Michigan's Taco Charlton and Wisconsin's T.J. Watt.
The Ravens parted ways with linebacker Elvis Dumervil and traded defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who led the defensive line with five sacks last year. Baltimore still has All-Pro Terrell Suggs, and has high hopes for Matthew Judon and Za'Darius Smith, but the Ravens could still use more quarterback terrors.
2) Offensive lineman soon after
If General Manager Ozzie Newsome gives the defense some more love in Round 1, would he turn his sights to the offense in Round 2?
"Ozzie Newsome loves power football and might not be able to resist the offensive line talent on the board in Rounds 2 and 3," Miller reported.
Baltimore could draft a right tackle, guard or center after Rick Wagner left for Detroit in free agency and traded Jeremy Zuttah to the San Francisco 49ers.
The projected first-round offensive linemen are Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp, Alabama tackle Cam Robinson, Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk and Utah tackle Garett Bolles.
"I think there'll be a run on four offensive linemen – Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp, Garett Bolles – late first," Breer reports. "They may even cause some trading up into late teens."
The Ravens sit at No. 16. Could they let another team take a first-round lineman and grab their blocker(s) in the following rounds?
According to Mel Kiper's three-round mock draft for ESPN, the Ravens would probably be looking at Troy tackle Antonio Garcia, Western Michigan tackle Taylor Moton or Temple guard Dion Dawkins.
The third round may include Indiana guard Dan Feeney, Texas A&M guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, Pittsburgh tackle Adam Bisnowaty, TCU tackle Aviante Collins and USC tackle Zach Banner.
3) The quarterback run may be on
This year's quarterback class hasn't gotten much hype, but that's starting to change.
According to Breer, there's a chance three could be drafted in the top 15.
"I wouldn't necessarily call it a likelihood, but there's a chance Mitchell Trubisky, DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes all go in the Top 15," Breer reports.
"The Browns' consideration of Mitchell Trubisky at No. 1 overall is real. Here's a potential compromise: Take Garrett at 1, be aggressive in moving up from 12."
The more quarterbacks taken ahead of Baltimore the better. That would mean one of their top talents could slide down the board to No. 16.
4) Reuben Foster's drug history
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster's draft stock has taken some hits, which could make the top-10 talent slide down draft boards.
First, he was expelled from the NFL Scouting Combine after getting into a verbal altercation with a hospital worker. That reportedly caused him to not get an invite to the draft in Philadelphia.
Then he failed his drug test at the combine because of a diluted sample. While on ESPN's First Take, Foster explained that the text results were due to hydrating too much and being sick.
Now Breer is reporting more bad news for Foster.
"Reuben Foster had some drug history at Alabama. Teams know," Breer writes. "It wasn't considered a big deal before combine test. Now, it takes on a different context."
Newsome previously said that Foster's dismissal from the combine did not change his status on the Ravens' draft board. There's been no word on the diluted sample, but the Ravens drafted Jernigan after he had the same test result in 2014.
5) Teams in the top 10 want to trade back
It's feasible that teams near the end of the draft could trade up to the Ravens' pick to take a top offensive lineman, and that teams in the top 10 picks are also looking to move back.
Add it up, and Baltimore may have multiple options to move around the first round.
"At least half the top 10 teams picking have shown a desire to trade down – 49ers, Bears, Titans, Jets, Panthers," Breer reports. "It's harder to find teams going up."
6) Gareon Conley could be off the board, but other CBs are emerging
News broke Tuesday afternoon that first-round cornerback prospect Gareon Conley of Ohio State has been accused of raping a woman in Cleveland earlier this month.
Conley's attorney denied the allegations, and no charges have been filed, but investigators are looking to speak with him.
The news could knock Conley off draft boards, especially in Baltimore where the team is particularly sensitive to off-field troubles involving violence toward women.
But just as Conley, who was projected as a possible mid-first-round pick, may be tumbling down or off boards, there are other cornerbacks emerging that could be of interest to the Ravens.
"Two cornerbacks I think the NFL likes more than the public knows: Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, USC's Adoree Jackson," Breer wrote.
Humphrey has the Alabama connection and ideal size and athleticism for the position. Jackson is a dynamic playmaker both at cornerback and as a returner.
WR Prospect Corey Davis Likes Ravens Best
Too bad draft prospects don't get to pick where they want to go, because if that were the case, Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis would be suiting up in purple.
Davis has reportedly visited the Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.
The Ravens emerged from the pack.
"Just the entire feel is a lot different than I had with any other team. It was really comfort," Davis told ESPN.com. "That's a credit to coach [John] Harbaugh and what he has going out there and their GM. It was a lot of fun."
Davis set the FBS record with 5,285 career receiving yards, and hauled in 52 touchdowns over his four seasons (50 starts). He's seen as somewhat of an enigma in the draft, however, because torn ligaments in his ankle prevented him from running at the combine or his pro day.
This week, Davis posted an impressive workout video and said he feels that he'll be ready to play in just a few weeks.
"I talked it over with my agent and we felt that it was in my best interest to let everyone know I'm in good health and my ankle is doing fine," Davis said.
"I feel like my mindset level and competitive level is different than any other receiver in the draft. I work a lot harder than any receiver. I definitely want it."
Hensley Passes Over Receivers To Take Lamp
Sure, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay know a lot about the draft. But NFL teams' local reporters should know what their respective teams need most.
ESPN held its NFL Nation mock draft last night, in which each local reporter made a pick as if they were the general manager of their teams. And I think you'll be surprised by Jamison Hensley's selection for the Ravens.
When Hensley was on the clock, top receivers Mike Williams and Corey Davis were available. Pass rushers Charles Harris, Taco Charlton and T.J. Watt were still on the board. All of the offensive linemen were still up for grabs.
Hensley chose Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp.
"Offensive line has become a priority for Baltimore after right tackle Rick Wagner signed with the Lions in free agency and center Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the 49ers," Hensley wrote.
"The Ravens upgrade their protection for quarterback Joe Flacco and become only the second team in NFL history to take the first offensive lineman in consecutive drafts. Lamp is the consensus top offensive lineman in the draft who has the ability to play any spot along the line."
Lamp is 6-foot-4, 309 pounds. He was an All-Conference USA selection the past two years, in which he started every game at left tackle. He has very strong technique, but one of his supposed weaknesses is that he's more of a positional blocker than power.
With that said, he is compared to Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl guard Zach Martin, who was selected with the No. 16 pick in the 2014 draft, one pick before the Ravens took linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Let's just say the reaction to Hensley's pick wasn't warm.
"The reaction on Twitter ranged from someone blocking me to another suggesting I embarrassed the franchise with the choice," Hensley wrote. "Even ESPN analyst and former general manager Bill Polian gave me the dreaded gong for my pick."
Hensley said the backlash is understandable considering the two receivers still on the board. But he went on to give four more reasons why Lamp could be the pick.
1) He could be the Ravens' highest-ranked player on the board
2) His profile reads like Marshal Yanda
3) His versatility is an asset
4) Oregon coach Willie Taggart, who lured Lamp to Western Kentucky when he was a coach there, is a close friend of the Harbaugh family. Taggart played for Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky.
Steelers Got A Big-Time Weapon Back
You know who ended up going to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Nation mock draft?
Corey Davis, the Western Michigan wide receiver.
Well, the Steelers may not need him after Tuesday's news that Martavis Bryant has been "conditionally" reinstated to the NFL after serving a year-long suspension for multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy.
Bryant has missed 20 regular-season games over the past two seasons, but when he has played, he's been one of the NFL's most dangerous deep threats with 15 touchdowns (one rushing). In 12 games in 2015, he caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns.