Ravens Confident They Can Draft A Defensive Playmaker At No. 6


After notching a league-low six interceptions, the NFL's fifth-fewest forced fumbles and a dip in sacks, the Ravens made it clear at the start of the offseason that they needed to add defensive playmakers.

The Ravens did that in free agency with the addition of safety Eric Weddle, but they aren't done. The draft is another prime opportunity.

And as fate would have it, the draft board is falling the Ravens' way when it comes to adding a playmaking defender.

"We're at a position at No. 6 where we think we're going to get a very, very good player," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said.

"Defensively, you've got pass rushers, you've got corners; those are playmakers, guys that can sack the quarterback, guys that can intercept passes. There are at least four or five guys that we feel comfortable taking at No. 6 on the defensive side."

The top five defensive players, according to numerous mock drafts, are Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, inside linebacker Myles Jack, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. All five of those prospects have been mocked to the Ravens at one time or another over the past couple months.

As long as one offensive prospect, such as Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil or one of the two quarterbacks (North Dakota State's Carson Wentz or Cal's Jared Goff), is drafted ahead of the Ravens at No. 6, Baltimore will be able to nab one of those five defenders.

The Ravens aren't going to take a quarterback at No. 6, so the only other offensive players they would likely grab would be Tunsil or Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Per most mock drafts, Tunsil will be gone (likely the No. 1-overall pick), so that would leave Stanley as the offensive option if the Ravens don't go defense. DeCosta lumped Stanley into the same category as Tunsil.

"There's a lot of good defensive talent at the top of this draft," DeCosta said. "Saying that, we think there are a couple elite left tackles in this draft too. We're going to draft the best guy, regardless, because as we've often said, your needs can change week to week."

While DeCosta won't rule out drafting an offensive player at No. 6, he did say it's more likely that Baltimore goes defense.

"If you're going to go to Vegas and bet, there's probably five or six really elite defensive players where we're picking and maybe three or four [offensive players]," DeCosta said.

The bounty of defensive talent doesn't stop in the first round.

DeCosta said this year's entire draft class is strong on that side of the ball. He said the Ravens have 35 additional defensive players that they consider to be draftable than in years past.

Last year, Baltimore went with a pair of offensive players with its first two picks (wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams). The previous two years, it was a defensive duo at the top. Perriman was the Ravens' first offensive first-round pick since 2009 (Michael Oher).

"As we get into the second round, we're looking at pick 36, again we see a lot of those [playmaking defensive] guys: ball-hawking safeties, corners who can intercept passes and score touchdowns, pass rushers either as five-techniques or as outside linebackers who can sack the quarterback," DeCosta said.

"So it does shape up very nicely for us based on that criteria."

Some of those second-round playmaking talents may include Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, Boise State safety Darian Thompson, Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple, Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, Ohio State safety Vonn Bell, Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd, Houston cornerback William Jackson III and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller.

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