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Late for Work 3/1: Ravens Trade Back in First Round in Mel Kiper's Latest Mock Draft

Baltimore Ravens General Manager Eric Decosta makes a call from the Draft Room at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, MD.

Ravens Trade Back in First Round in Mel Kiper's Latest Mock Draft

As pundits continue to speculate about who the Ravens will select with the 14th-overall pick in next month's draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has them trading out of that spot in his latest mock draft.

In Kiper's scenario, the Ravens make a deal with the New Orleans Saints to trade back to No. 18. In exchange for moving back four spots, the Ravens would receive the Saints' third-round compensatory pick.

That would give the Ravens three third-round picks and 10 selections overall in the first four rounds in what is considered a deep draft.

"Baltimore loves to acquire extra picks and could stick to its board by moving down a few spots," Kiper wrote.

Kiper mocked Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning to Baltimore at No. 18.

"This should be offensive line all the way," Kiper wrote. "Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has played in just seven games over the past two seasons because of an ankle injury, and there's no guarantee he is going to get back to his 2019 level. Penning played left tackle for the Panthers, but he could slide over to the right side if Stanley returns healthy. Penning had a great Senior Bowl; he is a road grader in the run game who can plow over defenders. We know the Ravens want to run the ball, so Penning fits their style of play."

Kiper said Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum also could be an option if he's on the board. Kiper had the Ravens selecting Linderbaum in his previous mock draft. If the Ravens go defense in the first round, Kiper said to keep an eye on Georgia defensive end Travon Walker .

The Ravens have traded back in the first round multiple times in recent years.

In 2018, they had the 16th-overall pick but traded back twice to take Hayden Hurst at No. 25. Then they traded into the first round to select Lamar Jackson at No. 32. In 2019, they traded back three spots to take Marquise Brown at No. 25.

ESPN Pundit Says Adding Pass Rusher Such As Von Miller Should Be Ravens' Top Priority

Pass rusher was one of the Ravens' biggest needs last offseason. A year later, the need still exists.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell said that adding a pass rusher should be the Ravens' top priority heading into free agency and the draft.

"While injuries waylaid the Ravens before and during the 2021 season, one of the few places where they stayed healthy and didn't get much production was the pass rush," Barnwell wrote. "After losing Za'Darius Smith and Matthew Judon to free agency in recent years, they used a 2021 first-round pick on Odafe Oweh, added Justin Houston on a one-year deal and hoped to otherwise get by with the players they already had.

"Things didn't go well. Baltimore ranked 25th in pressure rate despite blitzing at the league's seventh-highest rate. Injuries in the secondary didn't help matters — and it got career-high production as a pass-rusher from Tyus Bowser (seven sacks) — but it just didn't have enough to get after the quarterback."

Oweh (five sacks) will be looking to build on the promise he showed as a rookie, and the hope is that Bowser will be back for training camp after suffering a torn Achilles in the season finale.

Beyond those two, there is uncertainty. Veterans Houston, Calais Campbell and Pernell McPhee, all pending free agents, combined for just seven sacks last season. Another veteran, Derek Wolfe, missed the entire season with a back/hip injury and underwent hip surgery in January.

"The Ravens desperately need to add at least one interior rusher who can win on passing downs," Barnwell wrote. "They might not need a starting edge rusher in quite the same way, but if Von Miller happens to be sitting in the free-agent market, Baltimore should think about pouncing with a short-term deal."

Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowler who turns 33 this month, showed this past season that he can still play at a high level.

Miller recorded 9.5 sacks in 2021, including five in eight games with the Los Angeles Rams after being traded from the Denver Broncos. He had four sacks in four postseason games, including two in the Rams' victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl.

FS Marcus Maye Is Named a Player Ravens Should Target in Free Agency

CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani also believes the Ravens' top priority in free agency is the defense, but he said New York Jets free safety Marcus Maye is the player they should target.

With DeShon Elliott a pending free agent, the Ravens could have a hole to fill at the position.

"It's no secret that Marcus Maye wants out of New York, and this offseason it could happen. Baltimore needs help in the secondary at cornerback and safety, and signing a true ballhawk like Maye at free safety would immediately improve this defense," Dajani wrote.

Maye, whose 2021 season was limited to six games after suffering a torn Achilles, is a former second-round pick and has been a solid starter during his five NFL seasons.

"He is a versatile piece that can do multiple things well, and would be a very interesting chess piece for [Defensive Coordinator] Mike Macdonald to use in his defense," Ravens Wire’s Kevin Oestreicher wrote. "Baltimore will probably look to bring in safety help of some kind during the 2022 offseason, and Maye is a name to keep an eye on."

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec also mentioned Maye as a potential target for the Ravens.

"I know fans are clamoring for Tyrann Mathieu. I'd be more inclined to look at a younger and cheaper option, like say Marcus Maye, if they're comfortable with where he's at health-wise," Zrebiec wrote.

Ebony Bird’s Justin Fried listed safety as one of the top three position groups the Ravens must rebuild.

"The Ravens need a true free safety — someone to fill that Earl Thomas role in their defense," Fried wrote. "Look for them to scour the free-agent market and the 2022 NFL Draft in search of that player."

Four Ravens Make's Top 101 Free Agents Rankings

28. Calais Campbell (age 36)

"There is no explanation for why Campbell is still this effective at his age, but he's been 'one of one' since he entered the league in 2008 and is worthy of another big one-year contract."

40. Bradley Bozeman (age 27)

"Reliable young interior linemen are hard to find, and Bozeman is coming off his best season, just in time to hit free agency. He found a home at center after playing guard previously."

61. DeShon Elliott (age 25)

"Now we are at the part of the list where I've ranked certain players I believe in — like Elliott — higher than you might find them in another free-agent rundown. Elliott added so much toughness to the Ravens' secondary when he took over as a starter in 2020. He sat out most of last year with a biceps and pectoral injury, and the Ravens missed him greatly."

66. Justin Houston (age 33)

"It took Houston a while to find a job last year, and then he landed in Baltimore, where he outplayed most of his younger Ravens teammates — same as it ever was."

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