Ravens Eyeing Pass Rushers, But Draft Options Limited At Pick No. 6


The Ravens have made it clear the last two weeks that finding more pass rushers is a top priority going into the offseason.

Getting franchise sack leader Terrell Suggs back in the lineup is only part of the equation. 

"We need to focus on our free agency and our draft, and I think we have to have multiple pass rushers in order to let everybody else be effective," Owner Steve Bisciotti said at last week's season-review press conference.

Head Coach John Harbaugh reiterated that sentiment this week by saying, "We need pass rushers – more than one."

The draft seems like the mostly likely place to find those players for a variety of reasons. Pass rushers get top dollar in free agency, which the Ravens aren't likely to pay because of salary cap restrictions. And with a top-10 draft pick this year, the Ravens are in position to nab one of the top pass rushers in the class.

But here's the problem: this year's draft class may not have a premier pass rusher still on the board that's worth worthy of Baltimore's No. 6 overall pick.

"As far as pass rushers, there isn't anybody else at that point, that would be the outside linebacker type that you'd be looking for," ESPN's draft expert Mel Kiper said.

Kiper said a logical pass-rushing option for the Ravens would have been Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith, but he suffered a serious knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl and could miss the entire 2016 season. Smith still entered the draft, but his stock took a serious hit and the Ravens don't seem likely to use a high pick on a prospect who they know can't play his rookie year.

"Jaylon Smith would have been the guy, had he not gotten hurt," Kiper said.

Kiper's statements don't mean that this year's draft is devoid of any pass rushers, but the issue is that the Ravens likely find themselves in an in-between spot. The top defender in the class, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, will likely come off the board in the first five picks before the Ravens have a chance to nab him.

Outside linebackers like Georgia's Leonard Floyd and Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah could fill Baltimore's need for edge rushers, but Kiper doesn't think they're worth the No. 6 pick and they might not be around in Round 2.

The draft projections could also change dramatically before the end of April. Early mock drafts are almost never spot-on, and prospects will move up and down draft boards during the scouting process that takes place at the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine, pro days and private workouts.

Another possibility is for Baltimore to look past the first round to find pass rushers. Outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Za'Darius Smith were both fourth-round picks. Former Raven Pernell McPhee was a fifth-round pick.

The Ravens could use the middle rounds to find players with a motor to get after quarterbacks, and then use them to develop around Suggs and Dumervil.

"We want to add good players at every spot. And pass rushers, I would say, would really help us," Harbaugh said. "We're all determined to get that done."

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