Potential Trade Partners If Ravens Look to Move Up in First Round
The Ravens' history says they are more likely to trade back in the first round of the draft to receive more picks than to trade up and give up picks.
But with Baltimore having nine selections – including two each in the second, third and fourth rounds – could this be one of the rare occasions when the team moves up?
As The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec pointed out, "the top few players at the Ravens' biggest positions of need will either be gone by pick 28, or they aren't necessarily considered surefire first-round talents."
"The only way the Ravens can be assured of getting one of the players they want is trading up. … They certainly have the ammunition to do it," Zrebiec wrote. "The decision-makers abhor trading draft picks to move up, but they've shown a willingness to do it if they believe a special player is available."
Of course, there's no guarantee General Manager Eric DeCosta could find a willing trade partner even if he wants to move up to land a player the team covets. That said, there are several teams who appear to be prime candidates to trade back for additional picks.
One such team is the San Francisco 49ers, who own the 13th and 31st-overall picks. Ravens Wire’s Kevin Oestreicher envisioned a scenario in which the Ravens would acquire the 49ers' first pick as well as the 210th-overall selection in exchange for the 28th, 55th, 106th, 129th and 170th picks. He identified wide receivers CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III as likely targets in this scenario.
"With so few needs, [the 49ers] could be itching to trade one of their first-round picks in exchange for future capital," Oestreicher wrote. " … If Baltimore wants to make a big splash and finally add that true No. 1 receiver they've never had, this is the draft to make a deal."
The Miami Dolphins also could be a potential trade partner for the Ravens. The Dolphins own three first-round picks (Nos. 5, 18 and 26) and 14 selections overall. However, seven of their picks are in the fifth round or lower, so it's conceivable they'd be willing to part with one of their first-round picks to gain additional second-day selections.
"Adding more picks to rounds two and three might be very enticing for the Dolphins, especially since there are holes all over the roster," Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw wrote. "The Baltimore Ravens would be targeting pick 18 and might not have to give away too much draft capital to get it, making the Dolphins a team that Baltimore can work with. If a stud receiver or pass rusher drops to pick 18, the Ravens should jump at the opportunity to grab that player."
The New York Jets, who own the No. 11 pick and eight selections overall, are another team that could be seeking more picks.
"The Baltimore Ravens might have to give up a lot to move up into this spot, but the Ravens don't miss on players when they are selecting this high in the draft," Bradshaw wrote. "Baltimore also has a strong connection to the Jets General Manager Joe Douglas … so doing business with him should not be too difficult. If the Ravens pull the trigger on this trade, they would be able to jump in front of the Las Vegas Raiders, who hold the next pick and have similar needs [as] the Ravens have."
While Zrebiec wouldn't be shocked if the Ravens traded up, he thinks it's unlikely they'd be willing to give up what it would likely take to move into the top 15.
"The Ravens have a handful of obvious needs, so parting with three or four picks to move from 28 into the top 15, where [LSU outside linebacker K'Lavon] Chaisson, Jeudy and Lamb will likely come off the board, seems improbable at best," Zrebiec wrote. "But it's foolish to dismiss the possibility that they'll trade up into the low 20s to get a player they covet. It wouldn't necessarily be in character for the Ravens, but the characteristics of this year's draft class could force their hand."
Every Team in AFC North Has Gotten Better
The Ravens may not win the AFC North by six games like last year's 14-2 squad did, but they head into the draft as the clear favorite to win the division. NFL.com’s Nick Shook believes the three other teams in the AFC North have improved, but so have the Ravens.
"Now it's up to the Ravens to replicate their 2019 regular-season success – and then add to it in the postseason," Shook wrote. "Everyone else better watch out for the purple-and-black birds."
Shook identified the Ravens' acquisition of five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell as the biggest addition in the division.
"The trade for Campbell, which only cost Baltimore a fifth-round pick, also brings a rock-solid veteran presence to this locker room, which was filled with successful players in 2019 but could have used another experienced voice," Shook wrote. "AFC North passers will always have to identify where Campbell is lining up when playing the Ravens, making Baltimore that much more difficult of an opponent to face in 2020."
The Cleveland Browns, who entered last season as the sexy pick to win the AFC North but ended up in third place with a 6-10 record, pose the biggest threat to the Ravens winning their third straight division title, in Shook's assessment.
"The Browns emerged from the free agency frenzy with a pair of signings who could help them become the team they were supposed to be in 2019," Shook wrote. "Austin Hooper joins David Njoku to comprise a tight end duo that should be used plenty in new coach Kevin Stefanski's offense, and Jack Conklin shores up Cleveland's weakness at right tackle.
"If [the offense and defense] can come together, the Browns can legitimately contend with the Ravens for the AFC North – but it won't be an easy road, as this division lacks a legitimate bottom feeder to feast upon for two easy wins."
To Shook's point, the Bengals (2-14 in 2019) revamped their defense by signing free agents such as defensive tackle D.J. Reader, cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, safety Vonn Bell and former Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes. Cincinnati will likely select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first-overall pick.
"It's not time to gear up for a run to the Super Bowl, but it is time to start the trek out of the cellar toward more wins in 2020 along the Ohio River," Shook wrote.
As for the Ravens' archrival Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8), Shook believes they are poised to return to the playoffs after a two-year drought, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to be healthy.
"The Steelers weren't incredibly active in the first few waves of free agency, but they didn't need to be," Shook wrote. "Now it's up to the existing team to stay healthy and give the Ravens (and Browns, to a lesser degree) a legitimate challenge."
Two Ex-Ravens Who Should've Been on All-Decade Team
The Ravens are well-represented on the NFL’s All-Decade team (2010-2019). They're the only franchise to have two unanimous picks (kicker Justin Tucker and guard Marshal Yanda). Safety Earl Thomas III and new Raven Campbell also made the team, as did safety Eric Weddle, who played three seasons in Baltimore.
However, a strong case can be made that two other former Ravens should've joined them: free-agent linebacker Terrell Suggs and 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Suggs was No. 3 on Shook's list of the All-Decade team’s biggest snubs.
"The former first-round pick aged like a fine wine, entering the 2010s just shy of 27 years old and proceeding to rack up 81.5 sacks over the next 10 seasons," Shook wrote. "Of his 37 career forced fumbles, 21 came during the past decade, including seven during his Defensive Player of the Year-winning 2011 season. Suggs' sack total alone should've earned him significant consideration for this list, as should his 15 QB hits in 14 playoff games to go along with two Super Bowl rings."
As for Juszczyk, he actually had no chance to make the team. That's because fullbacks weren't considered.
Had there been a fullback named to the team, Juszczyk would've been a prime candidate. A fourth-round selection in 2013, Juszczyk played his first four seasons in Baltimore and has been named to the Pro Bowl the past four years.
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