Late For Work 4/7: Three Bold Predictions For Ravens' Draft

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Three Bold Predictions For Ravens' Draft

It's amazing how Ravens brass can say a lot without saying much at all.

After listening to top officials in the pre-draft press conference Tuesday, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec interpreted what the group actually said into what he thinks they really meant.

Based on Zrebiec's interpretations, here are three predictions for the Ravens' draft in April:

1) The Ravens will use their sixth-overall pick to select one of the following defensive playmakers: DB Jalen Ramsey (Florida State), OLB/DE Joey Bosa (Ohio State), LB Myles Jack (UCLA) or DE DeForest Buckner (Oregon).Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta told reporters that there are* *four or five defensive players the team would feel comfortable selecting with its first-round pick. The Ravens would love to add a playmaker on that side of the ball, and Zrebiec believes one of the four "elite" aforementioned prospects should be available assuming there are no major surprises in the top five.

2) Baltimore will draft a left tackle in the middle rounds.The Ravens praised both Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil and Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley as the top two tackles in the draft class, and either would be a welcomed addition by quarterback Joe Flacco. But Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz also said there are "tough, physical" tackles beyond the top two and "we feel pretty good about those guys."

"It seems far more likely that the Ravens pick a tackle in the middle rounds, rather than with the sixth overall pick," wrote Zrebiec. "The Ravens appear comfortable with veteran Eugene Monroe returning to protect Joe Flacco's blind side. They also continue to show faith in position coach Juan Castillo's ability to mold unheralded offensive linemen."

3) Newsome will use one of his top three picks on a cornerback.

DeCosta believes there's going to be a run on cornerbacks between picks 20 and 45, adding "every legitimate starting type corner" will be off the board by the middle of the third round. Baltimore will have three chances to grab one of those legit corners with a pick at the top of each of the first three rounds (Nos. 6, 36 and 70).

"The Ravens are going to use one of their first three picks on a cornerback," wrote Zrebiec. "[D]espite re-signing Shareece Wright, the Ravens have very little depth on the outside. They can't afford to take another developmental corner. They need a guy that can step in and play immediately.

"If that's not Florida's Vernon Hargreaves with their first pick, maybe it's Clemson's Mackensie Alexander, Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller or Mississippi State's Will Redmond in the second round, or Alabama's Cyrus Jones in the third. Either way, they'll need to strike fast to get the starting-caliber cornerback that they need."

Might Not Be So Bad If No QBs Taken In Top Five

It's often described as the worst-case scenario: no quarterbacks taken in the top five selections of the draft.

But it might not be so bad.

Hortiz is focused on top talent at the top of the draft, and he says there are definitely six, and even eight, players that he really likes.

"You could actually tell me that we could pick eighth and there would be eight guys that I like," Hortiz told WBAL 1090.

The number of quarterbacks selected will affect whether the Ravens will draft Hortiz' sixth-favorite player or, say, his third favorite. The more quarterbacks selected, the better. But, knowing that the Ravens like eight players and other teams could be motivated to trade up for a top signal caller, it might not be so bad if no quarterbacks are drafted in the top five.

"People will want to trade up. Absolutely," Hortiz said.

So which is the better scenario?

"I don't know the answer to that," Hortiz said. "It's probably good either way.

"If the quarterbacks go, it pushes a good player on our list down to us. If they don't go, there's going to be value in terms of trade, possibly because people may want to get up ahead of the 49ers, especially if they deal [Colin Kaepernick]. People will also assume that they're looking for a quarterback. … If anyone wants that guy ahead of them, they'll jump up to us."

In 2012, the Washington Redskins sent three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams to move up four spots to No. 2 so they could select quarterback Robert Griffin III. If the Ravens were offered something as valuable as that, they'd be crazy not to consider dropping back four spots or so.

But, Hortiz doesn't expect anyone to give up that much value for a couple spots this year because a majority of the league now looks at the deal as setting back the Redskins franchise. Griffin didn't pan out (he's now with the Cleveland Browns) and they lost all those top picks in the process.

That said, there could still be an offer that is too good to pass up.

"Hopefully, if that situation comes, we have a good decision to make," Hortiz said. "That's what Ozzie gets paid the big bucks for."

Mel Kiper Projects Ezekiel Elliot To Ravens At No. 6

We've talked about Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot as a potential dark horse choice for the Ravens' sixth-overall pick before, and now ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper is fully projecting that to happen.

In his latest mock draft, Kiper has the Ravens selecting Elliot over Buckner, Stanley and Hargreaves. All three have been popular projections to Baltimore in mock drafts up to this point.

"The Ravens could go in a number of directions here, but this is a spot where Elliott starts to come into play for teams who want to stay strict to a 'best player available' strategy," wrote Kiper. "No question he'll benefit any team he lands with, including the Ravens."

Will Mike Wallace Make It To Second Year Of Contract?

Every year in free agency, there are long-term contracts signed that turn into one-and-done deals.

ESPN's John Clayton pointed to five free agents last year that was cut after one season, without the team suffering a major cap hit. Those players included Brandon Browner, Bruce Carter, Rahim Moore, Antonio Cromartie and Owen Daniels.

Clayton envisions that trend continuing and predicted which multi-year signings that could turn into one-and-done seasons. One player on his list is Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace.

"Wallace is the classic street free agent being judged on a year-by-year basis," Clayton wrote. "The Vikings released him from his contract worth $12 million a year. The Ravens gave him $4.5 million to sign on a two-year, $11.5 million contract. All that is guaranteed is the signing bonus, so he has to play well to make it to next year, when he has an $8 million cap number."

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