Mink: The Ravens' five draft picks are their fewest since 1999, when they had four. Asked in January about having just five picks, General Manager Eric DeCosta said he'd "love to have more picks."
I think there's a good chance the Ravens slide back in the draft from No. 22. Judging by mock drafts, there seems to be a cluster of wide receivers and cornerbacks – Baltimore's two clear biggest needs at this point – near the back end of the first round. So I don't think they're in too much danger of getting shut out of addressing one of those needs. If the Ravens have multiple prospects with similar grades that they love sitting there at No. 22, they'd value adding more picks and still getting one of their guys.
Also, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and others believe the elite talent in the draft is sparse. "To me, the difference between pick 12 and pick 40 is not much," Jeremiah said. "Get to that point, and it's just preference."
One team executive told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer that they have just 15 prospects with first-round grades at this point. If the Ravens feel they can move back, get more picks, and get a player of very similar quality, they'll look to do it.
DeCosta did mention that the Ravens already have a ton of youth after recent huge rookie classes, including 11 last year. One member, Tyler Badie, is already with another team now because of sheer numbers. While I don't think the Ravens are looking to have another massive draft class, I do think they'd like more lottery tickets than five.
Downing: The other potentially significant position of need for the Ravens is pass rusher. Justin Houston, who led the team with 9.5 sacks, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. He could land back in Baltimore just like he did last offseason, but the 34-year-old veteran could also be in a line for a nice payday on the open market after a big 2022 season. If Houston leaves, the Ravens will still have Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo at outside linebacker, but they could use another pass rusher in the mix. Oweh has massive potential but only had three sacks last year, and Ojabo played sparingly as a rookie after recovering from a torn Achilles.
Adding a pass rusher in the draft is more likely than free agency based on the price of big-time pass rushers on the market. Sacks get players paid, and the Ravens are limited in their cap room (especially if they use the exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson). The Ravens have a strong history of drafting pass rushers in the mid-to-late rounds – Matthew Judon and Za'Darius Smith are two great examples – and they could go with that approach again this year. The Ravens have to be strategic with only five draft picks at their disposal, and could look at this year's draft to find another mid-round gem.
Mink: The Ravens' history of drafting wide receivers will not, and should not, preclude them from drafting another wide receiver (or two) this year. Their history has nothing to do with their probability of success, so long as they trust their methods – and I believe they do. While the Ravens' misses at the position are well-documented, I'd argue that DeCosta has had more hits in recent years.
Marquise Brown (DeCosta's first pick) is a good player who topped 1,000 yards in Baltimore and the Cardinals gave up a first-round pick to get. As a two-time Pro Bowl returner and offensive player who has flashed his talent, Devin Duvernay was a hit in the third round that year too. Injuries have derailed Rashod Bateman's first two seasons, but we've all seen his immense talent. DeCosta can't control, or predict, injuries. If Bateman stays healthy, I expect that pick to reap great rewards.
It's very difficult to find good value at wide receiver in free agency. DeCosta has shown he'd rather build that position group through the draft. While I do think Baltimore will explore other avenues this offseason, including the trade market, to add a veteran or two, DeCosta will continue to take swings in the draft at wide receiver. It's not a question of adding a veteran wide receiver or rookie. It's both.
Downing: Pat Ricard's role in the offense is a question with new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken. Former Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman loved to get the 300-pound fullback involved in his creative running schemes (and sometimes as a receiver), but it's unknown if Monken will take a similar approach. There's no question that Ricard is one of the best in the business at what he does. He's gone to four straight Pro Bowls. But not every system prioritizes the fullback, and Monken is in the early stages of putting his imprint on this offense. Monken did provide some perspective on this question during his introductory press conference, and he doesn't seem married to the idea of heavily featuring a fullback in his offense. When talking generally about building successful offensive schemes, Monken said, "I don't care if it's with a fullback, without a fullback, four wide, three wide."
The Ravens really like Ricard and the physicality he brings. Even with a new system, there's still a place for a bruising blocker to clear the way in a downhill rushing attack. Ricard's snap count or targets could see a reduction, but he still brings a skillset that few players have in the NFL.