Skip to main content
Presented by

Late for Work: Ravens Draft Preview Looks at Sleeper, Wild Card Options, and More

Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson (6) against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark.
Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson (6) against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Jeff Zrebiec's Ravens Draft Preview Looks at Sleeper and Wild Card Options, and More

As we count down the final hours to the start of the NFL Draft tomorrow night, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec attempted to "connect the dots" as to how things could play out for the Ravens with the 30th-overall pick in the first round and subsequent selections.

Here are some excerpts from Zrebiec's analysis:

Most likely scenario in the first round

"Oklahoma offensive lineman Tyler Guyton and/or Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims and Arizona offensive lineman Jordan Morgan will be available to fill the team's plug-and-play tackle needs, and so will at least one of Iowa's Cooper DeJean, Clemson's Nate Wiggins or Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry at cornerback. There will also be edge rush and wide receiver options. General Manager Eric DeCosta will have trade-back opportunities, too, and he'll weigh how much he loves the top remaining player on his board with how much the Ravens covet more prime draft capital."

A sleeper option who should be discussed more

"Missouri's Darius Robinson plays like a Raven. He's big (6-foot-5, 285 pounds), strong and physical — and evaluators rave about his character. Robinson, who had 8 1/2 sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year, offers versatility with the ability to play on the edge and bump inside in certain packages. The Ravens watched him star at the Senior Bowl and brought him to Baltimore for a pre-draft visit. The Ravens have bigger needs than their defensive front, but adding versatile and disruptive players is always on the mind of the team's decision-makers."

Wild-card option at No. 30

"Duke's Graham Barton. He was a second-team All-American left tackle for the Blue Devils, but he's expected to play center in the NFL. The Ravens don't need a center with Tyler Linderbaum on the roster. They do, however, need a right tackle and starting-caliber guards. Barton is more than capable of playing those positions."

A Day 2 player who feels like a typical Ravens pick

"Miami safety Kamren Kinchens doesn't have elite speed or athleticism, but he's always around the ball. He had 11 interceptions and 22 pass breakups over his final two college seasons. An instinctive and rangy safety with good ball skills, touted leadership ability and strong special teams experience sounds like an ideal mid-round Ravens add."

One question that could shape what the Ravens do late Thursday and Friday

"How much do the Ravens believe in Rashod Bateman and their current wide receiver corps? DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh have talked up Bateman, a 2021 first-round pick, all offseason. DeCosta has downplayed the need at wide receiver. In free agency, the Ravens acted like a team content with the trio of Zay Flowers, Bateman and Nelson Agholor, and allowing younger pass catchers to fill in behind them. But this is an especially strong receiver class. Despite using more draft capital on the position than any team since 2019, the Ravens again have a need.

"There are four receivers considered first-round locks, and then the second round should spur a run at wide receiver that continues through Day 2. If the Ravens are mostly content with what they have at the position, they can show a little patience and get a guy they like late in the third round or early in the fourth. If not, they may have to earmark their second-round pick for a pass catcher."

DeJean Would Be 'Phenomenal Fit' for Ravens

Boston College senior football analyst and former NFL defensive back Will Blackmon likened DeJean to All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton because of his versatility, which sparked Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer to say that Baltimore would be an ideal landing spot for the Iowa cornerback.

"Phenomenal fit for a Baltimore-style defense, and that's why I think he's in play for the Ravens at 30, and could go as high as 16th to Seattle," Breer wrote on X.

Breer was responding to a post from Blackmon, who wrote: "Maybe Cooper DeJean wants to play corner to prove a point. However, putting Cooper DeJean at corner would be a waste of his talents and instincts. Put him in a hybrid role where he can move around and make plays. Ex: Kyle Hamilton."

Our own Clifton Brown said that DeJean could make it to No. 30 because teams that view him as more of a safety may not covet him as much.

"His chance to become an impact player may hinge on the system he joins," Brown wrote. "Teams wary of moving DeJean around the secondary to take advantage of his instincts may pass on him."

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah mocked DeJean to the Ravens last month, noting that "Baltimore has a knack for watching tough, smart and versatile players fall into its lap. We see it happen once again with DeJean."

Ravens Named Potential Landing Spot for One of Draft's Best-Kept Secrets

Washington State cornerback Chau Smith-Wade hasn't received nearly as much attention as DeJean, but Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine said Smith is one of the draft's best-kept secrets and named the Ravens as a potential fit.

"Smith-Wade is viewed as a fifth-round pick and the 168th overall player on the consensus big board from NFL Mock Draft Database," Ballentine wrote. "That stands in stark contrast from B/R scout Cory Giddings' view on him. He's ranked 75th overall on our big board. He's one of those prospects who doesn't draw a ton of attention but could carve out a long career as a valuable NFL starter."

Ballentine noted that Smith-Wade played almost exclusively on the outside at Washington State, but he would likely play in the slot in the NFL and is ranked as the top slot cornerback on Bleacher Report's big board.

Quick Hits

Related Content