Jeremiah and Brooks Agree on Versatile Defenders to Ravens in First Round
Your guess is as good as mine as to who the Ravens will draft in the first round at this point, but NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks agree it should be a versatile defender.
Jeremiah mocked Wisconsin outside linebacker Zack Baun to Baltimore in his latest mock draft. Brooks went with Auburn edge Marlon Davidson.
"Baun can do something that [the Ravens] need," Jeremiah said. "They need more edge rush opposite of Matt Judon, and he can give them that edge rush as well as some versatility. When you have a creative defensive coordinator like they have in Baltimore with Wink Martindale, to be able to drop [Baun] and do a lot of different things with him, on the ball and off the ball. I just think this guy fits with the way the Ravens operate."
Both Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen were off the board by the first 24 picks, leaving the Ravens the opportunity to bolster their pass rush. Baun fits the bill after totaling 12 ½ sacks in a breakout senior season at Wisconsin.
The Ravens were the most blitz-heavy team last season. Baun's ability to rush the passer and defend in the open field makes him an ideal player in Martindale's defensive scheme.
Baun has drawn comparisons to former Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy (who signed a big deal with the Dolphins this offseason) for his versatility, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper told Sports Illustrated thinks Baun would be a "really good" fit in Baltimore.
"He can be inside in your base," Kiper said. "Pass rush situations, third down situations, he can be on the outside. He gives you that. He's got a great attitude, great approach. He hustles. He's a team guy, a great attitude. Players love him. I think he would be a great pick in that late first-round area like I said, either to New England or Baltimore."
Like ESPN's Todd McShay, Brooks went the defensive line route and paired Auburn's Marlon Davidson with the Ravens.
"I think Marlon Davidson screams Baltimore Raven when I watch him on tape," Brooks said. "Big, fast, physical, [and] violent. Does a great job of showing versatility along that defensive line. The Ravens have a formula for the kind of players they go after. Davidson fits that profile."
While Derrick Brown, Davidson's teammate at Auburn, has commanded the bulk of the attention as a projected early first-round pick, Davidson was extremely productive at Auburn. He racked up 14 ½ sacks, 90 total tackles and 28 tackles for a loss in four seasons with the Tigers.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora highlighted Davidson as a prospect who could sneak into the end of the first round.
"He's an excellent athlete who carries his weight well," La Canfora wrote. "He can give interior pass rush and looks like he could play multiple spots across the defensive line. Had a strong showing at his pro day. Stayed in school for fourth year to fulfill a promise to his mom. I get the sense that defensive line coaches – creative ones in particular – like him a lot more than the draftniks."
Miles Boykin Aiming for Strong Sophomore Season**
General Manager Eric DeCosta acknowledged Monday that this is a historically deep wide receiver class, but said the Ravens like their young receivers.
One of those receivers is Miles Boykin, who the Ravens traded up for to grab in the third round last year.
With team activities put on halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boykin has spent the offseason working out with Ravens backup quarterback Trace McSorley.
"You can go out to the park and just run around, run routes," Boykin said on Glenn Clark Radio. "We can still talk to our coaches so that's not an issue. I would say the biggest issue is not being able to work out in actual gyms. I think that might be the only thing that's kind of bad, but other than that you just have to stay in shape by any means necessary."
Boykin never found a consistent role as a receiver during his rookie season. He finished with 198 yards and three touchdowns, and served as a key blocker in the run game.
Now with a year of experience under his belt, Boykin is aiming to make a sophomore leap. The Ravens' expectations for him could affect how early they target one in the draft.
"If Boykin can take a large leap forward in Year 2, the Ravens wouldn't have a burning need to acquire another high-impact receiver," Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "Boykin, Brown and [Willie] Snead would create a more than aquate starting trio, and all three players complement each other well.
"My hunch is that Boykin came to DeCosta's mind first because he's banking on the Notre Dame product making significant strides."
Casserly: High Praise for DeCosta After Just One Draft
It hasn't taken long for DeCosta to put his stamp on the Ravens' roster. We've already seen it in just a year on the job, and there's plenty of anticipation building as we head into the draft later this month.
NFL.com’s Charley Casserly evaluated the draft history for all 32 current general managers based on their best pick, value pick, and tendencies.
With a limited sample size for DeCosta (one draft), Casserly chose Marquise"Hollywood" Brown as the Ravens' best pick and Jaylon Ferguson as their value pick.
"The Ravens' philosophy under Ozzie Newsome, whom DeCosta worked under from 2003 until Newsome's retirement after the 2018 season, has several layers and DeCosta continues to carry out this vision," Casserly wrote. "The Ravens simply take the best player available, acquire as many picks as possible and draft productive, experienced players who have size, speed, play hard all the time and fit the culture and scheme."
Brown had a productive rookie season even while recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury. Ferguson developed into a solid contributor in the front seven, totaling 2 ½ sacks and 31 tackles in nine starts.
It's early, but the rest of DeCosta's first draft class could also pan out nicely. Boykin and running back Justice Hill provided impacts on offense, while guard Ben Powers, defensive back Iman Marshall, defensive tackle Daylon Mack, and McSorley could see increased roles this season.
The "best player available" (BPA) strategy is something that's gone hand-in-hand with the organization's draft tendencies at times, and that could continue with the high-value picks the Ravens possess in the first four rounds.
"W]hat DeCosta said, in essence, was the Ravens don't have to target needs with specific picks because the draft is deep and varied and they have enough high-end picks,” [our own John Eisenberg wrote. "... That's an organization building for the future through BPA but also aiming to win now, as well it should."
Chris Johnson Says He Regrets Not Signing With Ravens in 2014
Imagine one of the NFL's most dynamic running backs on the Ravens.[period] It almost happened in 2014.
Coming off six straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons with the Tennessee Titans, including a 2,000-yard season, Chris Johnson had the opportunity to join the Ravens as a free agent. Instead, he signed a reported three-year, $9 million deal with the New York Jets.
Johnson rushed for 663 yards and a touchdown in one season before being released. On Monday night, he posted a tweet saying he regretted not coming to Baltimore.
You can say things still worked out pretty well for the Ravens. They signed Justin Forsett to a one-year deal and he rushed for a career high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns. The Ravens finished 10-6 and clinched a playoff spot before falling to the New England Patriots in the divisional round that season.
"In retrospect, while it definitely is exciting to think about what Johnson could have done for the Ravens, the numbers, both the rushing yards and the salary hit should have Ravens fans counting their blessings for yet another example of acquiring high levels of production for a fraction of the cost," Baltimore Beatdown’s Evan Burns wrote.
- Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport named inside linebacker as the Ravens' biggest red flag heading into the draft.
- Head Coach John Harbaugh isn't alone with his concerns about the possibility of team playbooks being hacked.