Winners, Losers of Baltimore's Draft
Pundits from across the country have weighed in on Baltimore's 2016 draft class, and the initial reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Rather than offering up another grade for the Ravens' 11-man draft class, The Baltimore's Sun Jeff Zrebiec decided to look at the players and coaches on the roster who were impacted the most by the draft.
Here are the winners and losers of Baltimore's draft, according to Zrebiec:
QB Joe Flacco and Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
The Ravens gave Flacco a long-term insurance policy with the addition of left tackle Ronnie Stanley. The Notre Dame product is known for his ability to protect the blindside, and that's good news for the Ravens as Flacco rebounds from a torn ACL. Baltimore also put more pieces around Flacco, adding another offensive lineman and three offensive skill players. "In the draft, the Ravens got Flacco a likely long-term left tackle in Ronnie Stanley, another deep threat in Chris Moore and two all-purpose threats in Kenneth Dixon and Keenan Reynolds," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens have restocked at skill positions. Not prone to hyperbole, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged the Ravens are as deep as they've been in years at running back, wide receiver and tight end."
ILBs Arthur Brown and Zach Orr
The Ravens addressed just about every need on both sides of the ball, with the exception of inside linebacker. Brown, a former second-round pick, has been waiting for his chance to play, and Orr has impressed the coaches since making the team as an undrafted rookie two years ago. "The Ravens not drafting an inside linebacker in the draft is the latest show of faith for the two young players," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens still could sign a veteran inside linebacker, like A.J. Hawk, but they have prioritized getting younger and quicker in the middle of the field and that bodes well for Orr and Brown."
QB Ryan Mallett
The Ravens opted against using any picks on a quarterback, deciding to stick with Mallett as Flacco's top backup in 2016. That job is critical this offseason when Flacco in sidelined, as Mallett will get all the first-team snaps leading into training camp. "Mallett was probably safe as the No. 2, barring any missteps," Zrebiec wrote. "But this guarantees he'll get a ton of summer repetitions and it could extend his stay in Baltimore, as well."
Trent Richardson, Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrence Magee
The backfield was already crowded, and the addition of Dixon in the fourth round made the competition for a roster spot even tighter. "Unless the Ravens let go of projected starter Justin Forsett – and it would be quite surprising if they did – they are going to be forced to move on from some backs they like," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens could easily keep four backs, but there certainly isn't room for more than that. West, Taliaferro, Richardson and Terrence Magee will have quite a battle this summer."
LT Eugene Monroe
The veteran left tackle has dealt with injuries the last two seasons, and his durability has put his future in Baltimore in question. With the addition of Stanley, the Ravens could decide to release or trade Monroe in the coming weeks. "I'm still not buying the fact that the oft-injured veteran will be with the team come September," Zrebiec said. "Cutting Monroe would save $2.1 million in salary cap space now, and $6.5 million if he's a post-June 1 release. The Ravens now have a talented replacement if they decide to move on from one of their more disappointing long-term deals."
The Ravens now have 13 receivers on the roster and the only likely locks to make the team are Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken and Breshad Perriman. "That probably leaves only three spots for the rest of the group, which includes the two draft picks, Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Marlon Brown, Chris Matthews, Kaelin Clay, Daniel Brown and Chuck Jacobs," Zrebiec wrote. "It seems we say this every year, but the wide receiver competition will likely be the most interesting in training camp."
More Details On Trade Talks With Dallas
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome told reporters after the draft that he tried to move up with Dallas in the first round to get cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Newsome was mum on the specifics of the trade talks, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King was in Dallas' draft room and has the details.
When the Cowboys came on the clock at the No. 4 pick, Dallas called Newsome to try to move back to Baltimore's spot at No. 6.
The Cowboys wanted to swap first-round picks and also add Baltimore's third rounder (No. 70) in return. The Ravens offered a fourth-round pick (No. 104), but didn't want to part ways with the third rounder, King wrote.
Dallas was adamant about getting a third-round pick because it wanted to use that as ammunition to trade up for a quarterback later in the draft. Getting only a fourth rounder wasn't worth the risk of potentially missing out on running back Ezekiel Elliott.
"As the minutes passed before the pick, Jerry Jones got lost in thought, one observer noting him leaning back in his chair in the quiet draft room, chewing on a yellow pencil," King wrote. "He was thinking if he traded to six, and lost both Elliott and Ramsey on the next two picks, Dallas would take pass-rusher Leonard Floyd of Georgia. He liked Floyd. He loved Elliott."
The Cowboys gave the Ravens time to stew over their decision, hoping that Newsome would ultimately decide to come up and make the deal. Jones let nearly all of their allotted time tick off the clock before calling Elliott to say they were taking him with the No. 4 pick.
"It was obvious Baltimore wasn't bluffing," King wrote. "Eight minutes had passed from the time Stephen Jones told Newsome to call if he changed his mind. It was clear he hadn't."
The Ravens, of course, ended up taking Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 pick. They used their third-round pick on BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who can help bolster the pass rush and replace veteran Chris Canty.
Steelers OLB Harrison Returns Again
Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison just won't quit.
The veteran defender has tormented the Ravens in some big games over the years, and he announced yesterday that he will return for his 14th season. Harrison contemplated retirement the last few months – he actually retired in 2014 before returning five games into the season – but made the call to keep on playing.
"I'll be 38 on Wednesday and I'm feeling just like a fine wine," Harrison wrote in his Instagram post to announce the decision. "Getting better with age."
Good news is new Ravens Director of Performance & Recovery Steve Saunders is best known for his work with Harrison. Maybe Saunders can have the same effect on Ravens veterans.