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Late for Work: Mel Kiper Jr. Has Ravens Selecting CB Kool-Aid McKinstry in Latest Mock Draft

Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) tackles Kentucky running back Ray Davis (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.
Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) tackles Kentucky running back Ray Davis (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.

Mel Kiper Jr. Has Ravens Selecting CB Kool-Aid McKinstry in Latest Mock Draft

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock draft, and this time he has the Ravens selecting Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry at No. 30 overall.

"I had been focused on a tackle for the Ravens in my previous mock drafts, but I don't think we can discount their need at cornerback," Kiper wrote. "Marlon Humphrey was limited to 10 games last season, and while Brandon Stephens emerged as a starter-level player, there aren't many other players on the roster capable of playing outside corner.

"That's why McKinstry, a physical corner who allowed only one touchdown catch as the nearest defender in coverage over the past two seasons, could make sense. He's not the biggest defender (6 feet, 199 pounds), but he has experience matching up with the best of the best in the SEC. He's also a dynamic punt returner."

Kiper addressed the Ravens' need for offensive line help by mocking Kansas State guard Cooper Beebe to them in the second round at No. 62.

"The Ravens lost both starting guards in free agency, as both Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson signed with new teams. While they're likely to promote from within for one of those spots, they should add competition with one of the top picks," Kiper wrote. "Beebe has played tackle and guard, but he has short arms for his 6-3 frame. He allowed only one sack over the past three seasons."

Are Trenton Simpson and Ben Cleveland Primed for Breakout Seasons?

Russell Street Report’s Dev Panchwagh noted that pundits often forget that the Ravens have a good track record of promoting in-house players to successfully replace those who departed in free agency. He cited Stephens replacing Marcus Peters at cornerback and Geno Stone taking over for Chuck Clark at safety last season as the latest examples.

Panchwagh identified a handful of Ravens who could be next to flourish in starting roles. Here's a look at two:

ILB Trenton Simpson

"The spotlight is on the former Clemson Tiger and 2023 third-round pick with Patrick Queen moving on to Pittsburgh. … The raw talent – athleticism, speed and explosion – oozes off the screen. Simpson looks as fluid as a safety playing linebacker. His movement and sideline-to-sideline tracking ability is special.

"Against Pittsburgh in the season finale, Simpson scored an 80.4 PFF grade with one sack and two tackles for loss. It wasn't just the raw numbers that stood out. It's how Simpson passed the eye test. He was decisive and attacked without hesitation. On one play in particular on a flat pass to tailback Najee Harris, Simpson shot the play and corralled the big back in the open field, on a rainy field at that. It was one of the most impressive plays from any of the linebackers last season, and that was with two All-Pros playing ahead of him."

G Ben Cleveland

"Cleveland was drafted in the third round in the 2021 NFL Draft with some hype. … Cleveland was a high-testing prospect who showed off better athleticism than you would expect from a ridiculously large human. In that draft class, Cleveland was also regarded as one of the best pass-blocking guards, and the overall upside has always been pretty clear. However, Cleveland simply had not stepped up to wrestle the job away from others, even in two seasons where there was open competition.

"Perhaps it was as simple as Cleveland needing to settle in at right guard, where he backed up Zeitler. In his starts, the former Georgia Bulldog looked good, anchoring at the point in the running game and handling various pass pro responsibilities, including pass rush stunts and blitz combinations. He has pretty good footwork and processes well in the passing game. … Ultimately, Cleveland has the talent to be a reliable starter, and it seems like he's putting in the work too."

How Well Ravens Can Rebuild Offensive Line Is 'Burning Question' Heading Into Draft’s Nick Shook named one burning question for each team heading into the draft. For the Ravens, not surprisingly, the question was whether the new-look offensive line can get the job done after losing three starters.

"Baltimore had a lot of departures this spring, including nearly its entire running backs room. But the Ravens are used to adjusting on the fly when it comes to their backfield, thanks in part to their ability to get the job done up front," Shook wrote. "That is now in question, though, after three veterans left Charm City, thinning out the depth chart as we near May. The good news: This draft is filled with offensive line talent. But there's a risk in drafting and immediately depending on rookie linemen in today's NFL, especially with how little experience most collegiate linemen gain before jumping to the next level.

"If ever there was a quarterback suited to deal with constant pressure, it's Lamar Jackson, but he needs to stay healthy — something he struggled to accomplish in two straight seasons before roaring back with an MVP campaign in 2023. That O-line will also matter to Baltimore's big new addition, Derrick Henry, who still has the juice but can't carry the opposing team's entire defensive front on his back, even if his stature suggests otherwise. The offensive line will be the linchpin for the Ravens, a team that boasted depth as its strength in 2023 and will need to try to build it again to remain atop the AFC."

Brian Baldinger Says Ravens Are Ideal Fit for OT Prospect Amarius Mims

Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims has been a popular mock draft pick for the Ravens. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger can understand why.

Baldinger named Baltimore the ideal fit for the 6-foot-8, 340-pound Mims because of the Ravens' need at the position and Mims' attributes.

"I think the Baltimore Ravens look like a team that would be patient with Amarius Mims, letting him develop, grow into that frame," Baldinger said. "But he might have a huge upside if given the right opportunity — the way that they like to run the ball, the way he covers people up, the way he keeps defenders off them. This is a great, great opportunity at the end of the first round to get maybe a future star."

CB Prospect Linked to Ravens Named Most Underrated Player in Draft

Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean is another player frequently mocked to the Ravens. NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew named DeJean the most underrated player in the draft.

"DeJean sustained a season-ending fibula injury in November, forcing him to miss the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, but he tested well at his private pro day on Monday," Jones-Drew wrote. "While he's still a likely first-round pick, if not for the injury, I believe the Iowa cornerback would be a sure-fire top-15 selection. He excels in man and zone coverage and has great ball skills with the ability to take it the distance — thanks to his return ability. He's a unicorn who will positively influence both the defense and special teams."

There's a decent chance DeJean, who is ranked No. 21 on Kiper's big board, will be gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock. However, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah recently noted, top prospects routinely seem to fall to the Ravens.

"Who they're going to pick we're not going to know because it'll be a great player we're never going to think in a million years is going to fall in their lap and inevitably it happens," Jeremiah said. "That's the way it works in Baltimore."

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