Ravens Still Confident They Can Draft A Deserving Cornerback In Early Rounds

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It's been six years since the Ravens drafted a cornerback in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.

Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta expects to change that trend this season.

"I feel confident that we will have the chance to address that position in the first three rounds if we want to, depending on the other players that are there and the value of the other players at other positions," DeCosta said during Wednesday's pre-draft press conference.

Upgrading at cornerback was a clear priority for the Ravens entering this offseason. Baltimore has suffered crushing late-season losses to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots in recent years when the secondary faltered after injuries to top cornerback Jimmy Smith, and the Ravens have wanted to add depth and quality players on the back end of the defense.

They addressed the secondary in free agency by signing safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr. But the Ravens know all too well that they can never have too many cornerbacks, and they believe they can find an additional impact corner in this year's draft class.

"This is a very strong year, corner-wise," DeCosta said.

The quality of the cornerback class took a hit when Washington's Sidney Jones (torn Achilles) and UCLA's Fabian Moreau (torn pectoral) both suffered injuries at their pro days. Jones was a popular projection for the Ravens in the first round, but the injury may move him out of that conversation.

Even with those players going down, DeCosta still thinks the Ravens will have plenty of options. 

"It is a deep class, regardless," DeCosta said. "Yes, you have guys that are probably top-10 picks, and then you have guys all throughout the first round where you will feel really good on the value of the player and such. You go into the second round, you have probably the same thing. You have probably five or six guys."

Some of the players who could be available to the Ravens include Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Ohio State's Gareon Conley, Florida's Quincy Wilson or Teez Tabor, LSU's Tre'Davious White, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley or Tennessee's Cameron Sutton.

Just because the Ravens haven't drafted a cornerback early since taking Smith in 2011, doesn't mean they haven't been looking.

Baltimore has targeted first-round cornerbacks in recent years, but they've often come off the board before the Ravens have a chance to get them. In 2015, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted eventual Pro Bowler Marcus Peters eight spots before Baltimore. Last year, the Ravens tried to move up to the No. 4 overall spot to get Jalen Ramsey, but they couldn't agree on a deal with the Dallas Cowboys and stuck with the sixth-overall pick where they drafted Ronnie Stanley. 

DeCosta thinks this year's class has enough quality cornerbacks that the Ravens will finally have their chance to get one early.

"I feel like unlike some other years where we were really trying to draft a corner and just could not get one because they go off the board so quickly, I really feel like this year that we will have the chance to draft a corner based on the fact that he might be the best player there," DeCosta said. "That is what makes this year kind of unique, I think, from the cornerback position."

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