Draft Rumors: Ravens Could Trade Out Of First Round
Here we go! We're hours away from the 2015 NFL Draft, and the rumors are flying.
The latest buzz suggests that you shouldn't be surprised if the Ravens don't even make a pick tonight. TheMMQB.com's Peter King is hearing that teams scheduled to pick in the early second round are trying to move up into the first to land coveted prospects.
And you know General Manager Ozzie Newsome. He's always open to stockpiling picks, especially if he either A) thinks he can get his player seven, eight, nine picks down the board or B) his top guys are already taken and he doesn't think the remaining prospects are worthy of a first-rounder.
"Another interesting thing I'm hearing is about the handful of teams scheduled to pick early in the second round calling teams late in the first," King wrote. "The early-second [round] teams [want] to make sure they're not shut out of positions that could see a heavy run on players as tonight's first round winds down."
Two players to keep an eye on as this thing unfolds: Pitt tackle T.J. Clemmings and USC wideout Nelson Agholor. Both players have the potential to be immediate contributors or even starters.
King says the Carolina Panthers (No. 25) or New England Patriots (32) could be interested in Agholor, but the Titans (at 33), Raiders (35), Jets (37) and Jaguars (36) could get aggressive and make a move for him if they didn't land a receiver with their first-rounders. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay (34) could try to move up for Clemmings, says King.
"As for teams that could move down: Carolina (25), Baltimore (26), Indianapolis (29) and particularly New England (32) would be logical candidates," he wrote.
King isn't the only analyst advancing the idea that the Ravens could trade out of the first round. Based on how his own mock draft played out with all the top pass rushers, receivers, running backs and corners gone, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora felt the Ravens would not select a red-flag player and instead would try "like heck to trade down for sure."
With 10 draft picks –* *including nine in the first five rounds – the chatter around town over the past month was that Baltimore was in prime position to make a trade up. Yet hours before they get on the clock, trading down is the scenario picking up the most buzz.
"You can say, 'OK they have 10 picks and then maybe that means they can use some of that currency to move up.' I actually think they would be more likely to move out," NFL Networks' Daniel Jeremiah told our own Garrett Downing in Chicago last night in the video above. "Move out, collect some more picks and then try to use some of those middle-round picks to get back in that second-, third-round area. Those are the best players, value-wise, in this draft in Rounds 2 and 3. I wouldn't be shocked at all if the Ravens found a way to move out of the first round and ended up with a bunch of picks Rounds 2 and 3."
Newsome has done this before … twice … in recent history.
He traded out of the first round (No. 29) in the 2012 draft, and picked up Courtney Upshaw and Kelechi Osemele in the second round. With extra currency lying around, Baltimore traded up to get Bernard Pierce in the third and Gino Gradkowski in the fourth. A similar scenario worked out when Baltimore traded out of the first in 2010 and picked up Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody in the second. They used those extra picks to get tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in the third- and fourth-rounds.
That doesn't mean it will happen again. It all just depends on what Baltimore's draft board looks like when it's on the clock at No. 26 and their final conclusions on talented players with character concerns* *that could fall to them. Pass rusher Shane Ray, cornerback Marcus Peters and offensive lineman La'el Collins are all sliding.
"I think what Baltimore does a great job on is if they're not 100 percent sure on whoever is available at that point when they're picking, they move out of the pick," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said. "It all depends on how their board plays out."
In the video below, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh discusses what it would take for character-concern player to be removed from the board.
Bears' TE Martellus Bennett On Trading Block. Ravens Interested?
On the eve of the draft, news broke that the Chicago Bears have put tight end Martellus Bennett on the trading block, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport and ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Given the Ravens' need for a pass-catching tight end, the thin 2015 tight end draft class, and Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's success with Bennett last season in Chicago, conjecture about Baltimore's interest immediately ensued.
"Not sure asking price but would think Ravens would be intrigued," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"[I]t makes sense if the Ravens expressed interest in the Pro Bowl tight end," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The Ravens certainly have the means to make a move. Their 10 picks are tied for second most of any team. The question is whether the Ravens want to make the financial commitment."
Bennett has not participated in Chicago's offseason workouts, as he is looking for a new contract after signing a four-year, $20.4 million deal in 2013. So any team that is interested must also understand that a contract extension would need to be a part of the equation.
Bennett's current contract averages $5.1 million per season (ranked 13th in NFL behind Pitta), but for a deal to work, Bennett would need to be paid $7.5 million annually, per Hensley, which would put him among the top-five paid at the position.
He has a strong argument to be compensated among the best, seeing as he led all NFL tight ends last year with 90 catches. Still, that would be a lot of money tied up in the tight end position. Pitta is guaranteed $4 million in 2015, regardless of whether he returns from his hip injury.
The Ravens have $10.673 million available under the cap, according to The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
"But the Ravens can't bank on Pitta playing a full season even if he wants to return," wrote Hensley. "Bennett is intriguing because he is a proven commodity under Trestman, who was the tight end's head coach in Chicago for two seasons."
Hensley added that the Ravens could also trade for Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew (the Lions used a top pick on Eric Ebron last year). The last time Baltimore made a draft-day trade for a veteran was 2008 – fourth-rounder for cornerback Fabian Washington.
4 Scenarios To Watch As Ravens Prepare To Pick
Nobody can predict exactly what the Ravens will do at No. 26, not even the Ravens themselves know with certainty because anything can happen with the first 25 picks.
Below are four questions that Zrebiec says could affect what the Ravens do:
*When will the run on cornerbacks start?
*"There's really been no consensus as to when the other top-graded corners will come off the board. But with so many teams looking for quality cover guys, the sense is that there could be a run on them in the first round."
How many receivers go in the first round?
"Nine receivers almost certainly won't go in the first round, but it's not out of the question – in fact, it may be probable – that six or seven will. It's a deep receiving class, so some teams might be willing to wait it out at the position. However, there's a lot of talented pass catchers that should be available later in the first round."
How many offensive linemen get picked?
"If there is a run on offensive tackles within the first 25 picks, that would significantly increase the odds of a player that the Ravens covet falling to them without them having to trade up. The Ravens really don't have a significant need for an offensive lineman, so in their eyes, the more of them picked early, the better."
How far will Gregory and Ray fall?
"When the draft season began, outside linebackers Randy Gregory (Nebraska) and Shane Ray (Missouri) were both being discussed as top-10 picks. However, injuries or off-the-field factors have both spiraling down draft boards or off of them altogether. …It will certainly be tempting for the teams in the 15-to-25 range if an impact pass rusher is still available, warts and all. And how would the Ravens react? They met with both Gregory and Ray in the predraft process and owner Steve Bisciotti has already said that he'd love to get a pass rusher with the team's first pick."