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Late for Work 4/5: Ravens 'Destined' to Trade Back in First Round


With the NFL Draft less than three weeks away, Ravens fans have been inundated daily with mock drafts and articles speculating about who the team should select in the first round with the 22nd-overall pick.

There's always a possibility, however, that the Ravens won't be drafting anyone at No. 22, and the team's fans may have to wait a little longer on April 25 to see who will be standing at the podium holding up a Ravens jersey.

Will the Ravens, who do not have a pick in the second round, trade back to accumulate more picks?

"Given the Ravens' history of stockpiling picks, their love of value selections, current needs and where the best bulk of talent will be, it makes sense," Ravens Wire’s Matthew Stevens wrote. "This year, perhaps more than any other, Baltimore seems destined to trade back in the first round."

Stevens believes Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta "heavily hinted he'd like to trade down" during the team's pre-draft press conference earlier this week. Stevens wasn't the only one who came away with that feeling either.

"If there's a great player there at 22, we'll make the pick," DeCosta said . "But one thing we've shown over the past years is we know how to manufacture picks. So if the opportunity is there, we'll have a chance to trade back and accumulate picks.

"This draft is unique in that it took us about seven days to get through the meetings that we had in February; normally it takes about five days. We had a lot more players in this draft that we spent time talking about. So in this draft, if you can accumulate some additional picks, you've got a really good chance to help your team."

Of course, there's a reason the pre-draft press conference is referred to as the "Liars Luncheon." Everything said by DeCosta and those sitting alongside him needs to be taken with a degree of skepticism.

That said, however, the Ravens are certainly no strangers to trading back. They did so twice last year before selecting tight end Hayden Hurst at pick No. 25 (the Ravens were originally slated to pick at No. 16).

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah told Peter King of NBC Sports back in February that he'd be surprised if the Ravens don't trade down.

"To me, if the Ravens pick at 22, I will buy you dinner the next time we're together," said Jeremiah, a former NFL scout with the Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles. "I know the new GM, Eric DeCosta, taking over there from Ozzie Newsome, is a very bright guy. The value in this draft is in that second-round range. I would be surprised a team like Baltimore doesn't take pick 22 and look to get out of there and see if they can flex some more picks there in that second-round range."

In speculating about what the Ravens will do in the first round, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote that the Ravens trading back or out of the round is a distinct possibility.

"It would surprise nobody if the Ravens traded back in the first round for a late Day Two or early Day Three pick, or if they moved out of the first round altogether for multiple Day Two selections," Zrebiec wrote.

The last time the Ravens traded out of the first round was in 2012 when they took outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw at No. 35 and offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele at No. 60.

Second-Round Pick? What Second-Round Pick?

As noted above, the Ravens don't have a pick in the second round this year -- unless former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis knows something we don't.

Yesterday, the NFL revealed the names of 64 former and current players who will announce selections in Rounds 2 and 3 of the draft in Nashville. The Ravens' representatives are Lewis and former linebacker Adalius Thomas.

According to the list, Thomas will announce the Ravens' third-round selection, while Lewis will make the call in Round 2. The Ravens have two third-round picks.

Unknown if the "2" next to Lewis' name is a mistake or if Lewis could be a stand-in in case the Ravens acquire a second-round selection, but he would be shut out of action if not.

After it was brought to Lewis' attention, the Ravens' all-time leading rusher had some fun with it.

Which Ex-AAF Players Should Ravens Sign?

With AAF (Alliance of American Football) players now available to be signed by NFL teams after the league announced it has ceased operations, Stevens of Ravens Wire named some former AAF players the Ravens should consider.

One of them is wide receiver Charles Johnson, who led the AAF in receiving yards, including a league-high 192 yards in a game.

"Johnson has real talent behind that production that's worth revisiting," Stevens wrote. "His 4.39-second 40-yard dash [would have ranked 6th at the 2019 scouting combine], 7.03-second 3-cone drill [14th], 39.5-inch vertical jump [6th] and 133-inch broad jump [6th] show he's physically capable. He listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds at his Pro Day, certainly making him big enough to play."

Johnson, 30, was drafted out of Grand Valley State by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round in 2013. He played with the Minnesota Vikings from 2014-2016 and had 60 receptions for 834 yards and two touchdowns in 39 games, including 17 starts.

Stevens also likes outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who led the AAF with 7.5 sacks.

"It might be the reduced quality of blockers in the AAF, but Elliott was unstoppable with the San Antonio Commanders," Stevens wrote. "At only 27 years old, Elliott is at the peak of his career and has plenty left in the tank. He'll likely draw plenty of attention from other teams, but given Baltimore's defensive dominance, it could be a dream landing spot with a real shot at seeing the field in 2019 for Elliott."

Elliott signed with the Packers in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo. He played in 38 games with the Packers from 2014-2016 and spent a week with the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.

The other player on Stevens' list was wide receiver Rashad Ross, who reportedly signed with the Carolina Panthers after Stevens' article was published.

Are Ravens, Steelers Still Top Two in AFC North?

While many NFL fans, pundits and oddsmakers have all but handed the AFC North crown to the Cleveland Browns, not everyone is buying into a team that has never won the division since the league realigned in 2002.

One such naysayer is a writer for the Behind the Steel Curtain website who goes by the pseudonym "cliff harris is still a punk!"

"Until Cleveland actually breaks through, it remains Pittsburgh and Baltimore," CHISAP! wrote.

In the article, the writer goes in-depth on what the Steelers could do to defend against a Ravens offense led by Lamar Jackson.

"For Pittsburgh, it's finding enough versatile defenders to counter whatever look Baltimore presents," CHISAP! summarized. "The chess match is on, then. No disrespect to Cleveland, but whichever staff wins it may once again find themselves kings of the North."

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