Mailbag: Any Clue on Which Direction Ravens Will Go in Draft?

Left: LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr., Center: Georgia DE Azeez Ojulari; Right: Alabama G Landon Dickerson

Mink: This is the ideal position for General Manager Eric DeCosta. The Ravens don't like being boxed into having to draft at any one position, particularly in the first round. They were in that position probably more than they would have liked last year at inside linebacker, which made Patrick Queen's fall to them even more fortuitous. This year, as you're indicating, the Ravens could go in one of several directions in the first round because of the work DeCosta did in free agency.

Pass rusher probably still ranks as the top immediate need, but with re-signing Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee, it's not absolutely glaring. Wide receiver is still an early possibility given that Sammy Watkins is on a one-year deal, but the Ravens are in good position for 2021 with young receivers (Devin Duvernay, James Proche II) who can step into bigger roles. The Ravens could go with a center to continue their offensive line upgrade, or even an offensive tackle if they prepare for a possible departure of Orlando Brown Jr. either this year or next.

I wouldn't even rule out the potential for a surprise pick such as cornerback or safety given Baltimore's dedication to having a strong secondary. Jimmy Smith has signed one-year extensions the past two years and Tavon Young is coming off another major injury.

All this adds up to options, and options are a very good thing to have when you're on the clock. It also potentially spells a trade-back scenario if the Ravens have multiple prospects they like available. DeCosta has made it clear that he would like to add to the Ravens' seven current picks.

Downing: This is a good question and something I've been pondering lately. If this is the case, then that means there are likely five receivers off the board before pick No. 27 (Marshall, Bateman, Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith). This is certainly possible, as six receivers were off the board in the first 25 picks last year. Another option in this scenario would be Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore, who some draft experts have as a top-five receiver in this year's class. Moore has game-breaking ability and is a target monster, as he broke A.J. Brown's school record by catching 86 passes for 1,193 yards last season.

Moore could be in line for a nice NFL career, but I'm not convinced the Ravens would select him at No. 27. His downside is his size – he's 5-foot-10, 178 pounds – and he most likely projects as a slot receiver at the next level. The Ravens just drafted Duvernay last year and he looks ready to step into the slot receiver role that Willie Snead IV occupied last year. Drafting outside targets like Bateman or Marshall in the first round makes a lot of sense, but that calculation could change if the target is more of a slot receiver. Receiver isn't the only need on this team, so don't be surprised if the Ravens address pass rusher or the offensive line if they find themselves in this situation.

Mink: Scott took the words out of my mouth. It seems like the first round of free agency is over – league-wide. I don't think the Ravens are going to sign any more free agents until after May 3, when they won't affect the compensatory pick formula. They don't want to jeopardize the projected two fourth-round compensatory picks they would get in the 2022 draft for the losses of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.

It also allows the Ravens to see what they get in the draft. If they end up selecting a pass rusher in the first round, that could impact whether (or how much money) they spend on a veteran free agent. If the stars don't align in the draft and they don't come away with a player they feel confident will make an immediate impact, then somebody such as Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney or Justin Houston could make a lot of sense.

Downing: The offensive line is still very much a work in progress, and there are lots of moving parts with that group. Zeitler will slide into the starting right guard spot, but basically every other position has some uncertainty, at least at the start of the year. Ronnie Stanley will step back into the left tackle spot once he returns from last year's broken ankle, but he had two surgeries and the Ravens need to make sure he's fully healthy. Orlando Brown Jr.'s status is the great unknown, as he's requested a trade to a team where he can play left tackle. If he gets traded, then Tyre Phillips could end up as the starting right tackle. But if Brown remains in Baltimore at right tackle, then Phillips will be a backup tackle or competing for the starting left guard spot.

An intriguing possibility is moving left guard Bradley Bozeman to center, which he played in college. If the Ravens go that route, then Phillips and Ben Powers will compete for the left guard spot. Second-year lineman Ben Bredesen would also be in the mix, potentially along with a high draft pick. The honest answer here is that the offensive line is still a long way from being settled, and that process will likely last at least through the early part of training camp.

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