How Orlando Brown Jr. Trade Could Affect the Ravens' First-Round Plans
Those with plans to head to bed after the Ravens pick 27th on Thursday night will have to rearrange their schedules.
The blockbuster trade that sent Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs could now have Baltimore rethinking its first-round approach.
"The Ravens traded Brown, who they selected with the 83rd pick in the 2018 draft, for a first rounder, while essentially trading back from No. 58 to No. 94 + No. 136," Baltimore Beatdown's Spencer Schultz wrote. "... [T]he Ravens now have the 2021 Draft as their oyster, with endless possibilities."
While the Ravens could certainly pick at No. 27 and No. 31, a huge benefit of the Orlando Brown Jr. trade is giving General Manager Eric DeCosta more ammunition to move around the draft board.
One of the most interesting possibilities could be packaging their two first-round picks to move up and select one of the draft's top players.
CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin said there might not be a team more primed to trade up in terms of draft capital.
"With two firsts, two thirds and two fourths, they could eye a big leap – perhaps all the way into the top 15 – if they covet a top blocker, receiver or pass rusher for their playoff roster," Benjamin wrote.
Pundits see trading up as a possibility partly because five quarterbacks might be drafted early in the first round. That could push some of the top non-quarterback prospects down the board and into a realistic range for the Ravens to trade up.
The Jimmy Johnson trade chart values the 27th pick at 680 and the 31st pick at 600. To move up to 20, the chart suggests the Ravens would need to provide a package that equals a value of 850. That value increases even more to 1050 for the 15th pick.
"More than anything, this gives the Ravens options," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "They now have the flexibility to package picks to move up from No. 27 if they want to get in position to take one of the top remaining tackles, like [Christian] Darrisaw or [Teven] Jenkins, or they can make an even bolder move forward to get a top pass rusher or wide receiver, their other two primary needs."
DeCosta's aggressiveness can never be counted out, but the consensus among pundits is that the Ravens are more likely to use one of their first-round picks to trade back.
"The Ravens' bolstered draft capital gives them the flexibility to trade up at least a dozen spots in the first round next week," The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "Under DeCosta, however, a trade down is more likely. The Ravens need help at edge rusher and wide receiver, and they were already on the lookout for another offensive lineman."
"If you've followed how the Ravens do business during the draft and listened to DeCosta this week attributing the organization's draft success to having a lot of picks, it's probably a better bet that they'll use one of their first-rounders to trade back and pick up more Day 2 inventory in a draft known more for depth than star power," Zrebiec added.
The Ravens don't have a second-round pick, but a draft filled with depth at positions that rank among the team's top needs provides an opportunity to acquire more capital.
"I'd say 35 to 75 is the hotbed of this draft,'" one GM told NBC Sports' Peter King.
In his most recent mock draft, King has the Ravens trading up to No. 22 to draft Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye. At No. 31, he has Baltimore taking Alabama center Landon Dickerson.
Interestingly enough, King said he does not see the Ravens selecting LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.
Why Trade With the Chiefs?
One of the biggest surprises from the trade was who the Ravens actually dealt Brown to.
The Chiefs are Baltimore's biggest threat in the AFC, and after falling short in Super Bowl LV, they solidified their offensive line with the addition of Brown.
"Why would the Ravens send Brown to the Chiefs, the team standing in their way of getting to the Super Bowl?" ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote. "This trade shows how much the Ravens covet draft picks and how DeCosta is unafraid to take risks. In DeCosta's boldest move since replacing Ozzie Newsome two years ago, Baltimore sent a two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman to the Chiefs to protect Patrick Mahomes' blind side so the Ravens could load up in the first four rounds of this year's draft."
While it may seem bold for the Ravens to trade with another AFC contender, you take the best deal available, no matter the team.
Zrebiec said a lot of the reason had to do with Brown's trade market.
"Sure, teams were doing their due diligence and had some interest, as you'd expect with a young player of his caliber and credentials," Zrebiec wrote. "But a few of the tackle-needy teams were content with finding their next blindside protector in the first round next Thursday. A few others weren't ready or willing to commit to giving Brown a significant contract extension.
"The Chiefs were believed to be the only team aggressively pursuing him at the moment, so it was more of a decision between keeping him and waiting for the draft or trading him to the Chiefs rather than a decision between trading him to the Chiefs or another team."
Added Hensley: "The safe play would've been for the Ravens to hold on to Brown for this season and get a third-round compensatory pick in the 2023 draft after he signed elsewhere in free agency. Instead, DeCosta showed once again how he is willing to take chances."
Pundit Suggests Ravens Should Trade Up for Justin Fields
Speaking of trades, NFL Network's Bucky Brooks explored a scenario where the Ravens could trade up to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields if he falls in the first round.
"This is something that the Baltimore Ravens have always done," Brooks said. "They have always done a great job of putting themselves in position to nab blue-chip players that may fall down the board – particularly, in the first round. Now you are looking at a Ravens team that has two first-round picks at the bottom of the board. They have two third-rounders and two fourth-rounders. They are currently in a situation where they are dealing with Lamar Jackson. Do they give him the fifth-year option or do they extend him on a long-term deal?
"I do wonder going back to John Harbaugh and his words 'We are the army of the NFL.' I just wonder in a scenario if Fields falls low enough that he is within range, if the Baltimore Ravens decided to go all-in on this Army approach."
It's a bizarre scenario, especially considering Jackson's performance has been far from average as a starter. The second-ever unanimous MVP in the NFL led the league in touchdown passes and threw for over 3,000 yards in 2019. He's topped 1,000 rushing yards each of the past two seasons.
What about that is average?
"The overall point that Brooks is trying to hammer home makes sense in theory, but for the Ravens it would make no sense to part ways with a quarterback who is less than two years removed from winning the second unanimous MVP award in NFL history and has shown the potential to be one of the greatest players of all time," Ravens Wire's Kevin Ostreicher wrote. "While he still has things to improve upon, trading draft capital to move up for a rookie would set the franchise back years, as Jackson has plenty of valuable NFL experience and has improved his game in many different areas.
"There's no doubt that Fields can be a great player at the next level. However, surrendering assets to acquire a position that is at the bottom of Baltimore's needs list — plus moving away from Jackson — is a scenario that wouldn't benefit the Ravens in any way. It's a fair point to ask why Brooks didn't suggest his idea to the Bills or the Browns for Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, respectively."
Ravens Receive Strong Grades for Brown Trade
We live in a world of instant reaction and it didn't take long for pundits to grade the Brown trade.
Here are some snippets on what was said:
"The Ravens rid themselves of a player who wanted out and got a strong return for him, so there's not a lot to complain about here. … What this trade did for Baltimore is turn an expendable asset into draft flexibility, which is exactly what clubs want this time of year. The addition of that first along with multiple selections on Day 2 and Day 3 completely opens up the board for Baltimore."
"The Ravens could draft a tackle, keep second-year player Tyre Phillips at right tackle or sign free-agent Alejandro Villanueva. Baltimore is now $15.14 million under the salary cap to sign other free agents or make a trade."
"If the Ravens knock this draft out of the park, they win. The Ravens aren't far from being a Super Bowl team. This time next week we could be saying that this trade gave the Ravens the boost they needed to get over the hump."
The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia: B
"Ultimately, if the Ravens felt like the Brown situation was untenable, this was a reasonable move. They didn't get a haul, but they got reasonable compensation. With such a talented roster, they're not going to be able to pay everyone, and rather than potentially losing Brown for nothing after the season, they were able to get something for him. There's nothing wrong with that from a process standpoint."
"It will probably take three to four years to accurately grade the Brown trade because no one currently knows how well Brown will play in Kansas City, who both teams will select with the picks that they acquired, and how those players will develop. It will take some time, but it's acceptable to give an initial grade based off of the presumed value that both teams received."
- "The Ravens now have a pair of selections late in Round 1, and I'm told they are definitely targeting a wide receiver with one of them," ESPN's Todd Mcshay wrote. "I'd be very surprised if a WR isn't one of those two picks. The other one could address the edge rush or offensive tackle."
- "Bottom line, Brown was almost certainly going to be gone after the 2021 season," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer wrote. "And, best case scenario, they would've gotten a third-round comp pick in 2023 for him. That'd probably wind up being a pick somewhere around 100th, and all this illustrates why the Ravens had their feet planted on the asking price (a second-rounder)."