After several major departures, the Ravens aren’t short on holes to plug at edge rusher, wide receiver, inside linebacker or interior offensive line. General Manager Eric DeCosta made it clear that “need” is a major factor when making picks.
But there are sometimes surprises. For example, quarterback wasn’t the biggest “need” last year, but the Ravens made the move to get Lamar Jackson.
It’s because not all needs are immediate. When planning the roster and charting out the Ravens’ draft course during upper-management’s annual postseason summit at Owner Steve Bisciotti’s Florida residence, DeCosta and Co. look down the road.
“We do look at impending free agents next year to help us make decisions. That’s a factor. We’ll look at the salary cap,” DeCosta said.
“We kind of assess what we look like now, and also what we might look like two or three years from now. … Big picture, what is this team going to look like in 2022 versus 2019? And, that helps us to formulate what our plan is going to be.”
With that in mind, here are some dark-horse position groups the Ravens could draft from early this year, particularly if they were to acquire more picks:
The Ravens are currently loaded at cornerback with Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young all serving as high-level starters. However, Smith’s contract expires after the 2019 season and Carr essentially has a year-to-year contract. If Baltimore were to lose one or both next offseason, they would have a major need at a position where they never want to be thin.
Many mock drafts have Georgia’s Deandre Baker, Washington’s Byron Murphy and Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin coming off the board sometime between the early 20s and mid-30s.
A popular mock projection earlier this pre-draft season was Alabama running back Josh Jacobs to Baltimore. Then the Ravens signed veteran Mark Ingram and that pretty much ended that speculation. But could the Ravens still pull the trigger on taking the top running back in this year’s class?
With the Ravens expected to lean heavily on their running attack, a stud running back to work in tandem with Ingram and alongside Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon wouldn’t be so bad. There may be enough carries and catches to go around for three to four backs. Look at how Ingram and Alvin Kamara worked together in New Orleans. Ingram and Jacobs could be a dangerous duo for years to come. They already have an Alabama connection.
The Ravens have a crushing 1-2 combo with Pro Bowler Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce plugging up the middle of the defensive line. However, defensive end Brent Urban, who played the most snaps of any Ravens defensive lineman last year (per Pro Football Focus) is still on the open market and Pierce is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
If a defensive tackle such as Houston’s Ed Oliver or Clemson’s Christian Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence were to fall to the Ravens at No. 22, would they be too much of a talent to pass up?