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Late for Work: Ravens Could Trade Their First-Round Pick to QB-Needy Team

GM Eric DeCosta
GM Eric DeCosta

Would Ravens Trade Their First-Round Pick to QB-Needy Team?

In 2018, the Ravens made a huge draft-night trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to move back into the first round and snag Lamar Jackson with the 32nd-overall pick.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley noted that no team has traded up into the first round to take a quarterback since then, but the Ravens could be on the other end of such a move in this year's draft.

"With quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix likely available near the bottom of the first round, the Ravens could be in position to benefit from a team seeking a franchise quarterback like Baltimore did in 2018," Hensley wrote.

Hensley said such a trade would be a win-win scenario.

"Baltimore, which has the No. 30 overall pick, might be open to acquiring more picks because it needs to build through the draft after giving a big-money deal to Jackson," Hensley wrote. "Then, there are the teams like the Las Vegas Raiders (No. 44 pick), New York Giants (No. 47) and Los Angeles Rams (No. 52), who could covet a young quarterback and might want to leap into the bottom of the first round to get their targeted passer. The Ravens understand the incentive of getting a quarterback in the first round instead of the second is gaining that fifth-year option, which allows the team to have an additional season of contractual control over the player."

General Manager Eric DeCosta likes having as many picks as possible, but he said at the pre-draft press conference last week that it would require a "premium" offer for the Ravens to trade out of the first round.

To move up 20 spots to get Jackson six years ago, the Ravens sent three picks to the Eagles — a 2018 second-rounder (No. 52) and fourth-rounder (No. 125) and a 2019 second-round pick — in exchange for Philadelphia's 2018 first-round pick (No. 32) and fourth-round pick (No. 132).

What Would Success in Year 2 Look Like for Zay Flowers and Trenton Simpson?

As the NFL world continues to look forward to next week's draft, Press Box’s Bo Smolka took a moment to revisit the Ravens' 2023 draft class and project what progress in Year 2 would mean for those players.

Here's what Smolka had to say about the Ravens' top two picks from last year and their roles in 2024:

WR Zay Flowers (Round 1, No. 22)

"From the first week of training camp, Flowers was everything the Ravens had hoped he would be as their first pick in the draft. Flowers quickly established rapport with Jackson and became the Ravens' top wide receiver. He finished with 77 catches for 858 yards — both records for a Ravens rookie — and six touchdowns, including one rushing.

"Year Two progress for Flowers would mean: Flowers becomes just the third Ravens wide receiver drafted by the team to top the 1,000-yard mark with the team, joining Torrey Smith and Marquise Brown. The Ravens continue to say all the right things about Rashod Bateman, but Flowers has established himself as the top weapon in the passing game not named Mark Andrews. The Ravens have added All-Pro running back Derrick Henry, and it remains to be seen how that affects the team's passing game. But 1,100 receiving yards, eight or more touchdowns and strong Pro Bowl consideration for Flowers should be within reach."

ILB Trenton Simpson (Round 3, No. 86)

"Barring a Josh Bynes-type veteran signing, not many Ravens will have greater opportunity this year than Simpson, who figures to succeed Patrick Queen and play alongside Pro Bowl linebacker Roquan Smith in the middle of the Ravens' defense. When the Ravens drafted Simpson in the third round out of Clemson last year, this appeared to be the road map all along. With Smith signed to a $100 million extension, Queen's 2024 departure was viewed as a likely repercussion, and indeed, Queen signed with the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. Now Simpson is the next man up.

"Year Two progress for Simpson would mean: He slots in seamlessly as the starter, absorbing everything he can from Smith and showing the pursuit and open-field tackling that he flashed in that regular-season finale. He also demonstrates coverage ability that makes new coordinator Zach Orr keep him on the field as a three-down linebacker. Inside linebackers pile up tackles in the Ravens' system, so if Simpson is healthy and consistent, 90 tackles and 3.5 sacks — Queen's total last year — are realistic totals."

Ravens Take OT, WR With First Two Picks in The Athletic's Seven-Round Mock Draft

The Athletic's Dane Brugler took on the daunting task of doing a seven-round mock draft. He based all 257 picks on top 30 visits, league buzz and overall interest.

Here's a look at two of Brugler's picks for the Ravens and his comments on them:

Round 1 (No. 30): Arizona OT Jordan Morgan

"Considered a tackle by some teams and a guard by others, Morgan would provide immediate depth at both spots for the Ravens. He is well schooled as both a run blocker and pass protector and has the athletic balance to match up well against NFL defensive linemen."

Round 4 (No. 130): Colorado State EDGE Mohamed Kamara

"The Ravens have high hopes for previous early-round picks Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, but they will likely draft more pass-rush help at some point in the first four rounds. Although undersized, Kamara is relentless and has disruptive potential as a subpackage rusher."

In between the Morgan and Kamara picks, Brugler mocked South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette to the Ravens in the second round (No. 62) and Wake Forest safety Malik Mustapha to them in Round 3 (No. 93).

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec approved of both of those selections.

"Legette would be very good value at No. 62," Zrebiec wrote. "He was just one of two SEC receivers last year to average 100 yards per game. The other one, LSU's Malik Nabers, will come off the board in the top 10. More than anything, the 6-foot-1, 223-pound prospect would diversify the Ravens' receiving corps. They need a big and physical target who can make contested catches.

"I also like Brugler prioritizing the safety position with the third-round selection of Mustapha. It's an underrated need for the Ravens after they lost Geno Stone in free agency and haven't yet re-signed Daryl Worley. They currently have no obvious No. 3 safety on their roster behind Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton, unless they use Ar'Darius Washington, who they like in the slot, in that role. That's a potential problem, given Williams' recent injury history and the coaching staff's preference for moving Hamilton around. Mustapha lacks ideal size and length, but he plays with the physicality and aggression Baltimore loves."

PFF's Two Most-Underrated Draft Prospects Have Been Mocked to Ravens

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson ranked the five most underrated prospects in the draft. The top two are players who have been mocked to the Ravens at No. 30:

UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu

"There is nuance to the concept of being underrated. Latu is No. 16 on the consensus board, seen as a mid-first-round pick, but he is the third edge rusher and clearly viewed by many as a notable step down from the truly elite edge rusher prospects of the last decade. The PFF grading and his college production, however, suggest he belongs higher than that and with those top-tier prospects. Latu's PFF grade last season was 96.3, and his pass-rush win rate was an absurd 26.2%. Only Chase Young has ever recorded a higher win rate over a single season with that kind of workload, and it was Latu's second consecutive season of top-tier production.

"His athleticism was a question for many — certainly when compared to an elite athlete like Dallas Turner — but Latu's workout at the NFL combine was better than people expected and his in-game athleticism as measured by tracking data and turned into PFF's proprietary athleticism score — PFF GAS — was consistently elite. Latu scored in the 97th and then 99th percentile over the last two years in that area. His injury history is a concern, but on the field, Latu should be seen not only as the best edge rusher in this class but a top-10 selection overall."

Oregon WR Troy Franklin

"Brian Thomas Jr. is the consensus WR4 in this draft while Franklin is ranked four spots below that and 21 spots lower on the overall consensus board. However, over the last two seasons in similar roles, Franklin has been the more productive player. Even focusing on the 2023 season alone you could argue Franklin was the better player, though Thomas scored three more touchdowns and can at least rival him in some other statistical categories. Franklin averaged 3.32 yards per route run in 2023, more than half a yard higher than Thomas.

"Even as designated deep threats, it's hard to understand the discrepancy between the two receivers. Thomas again scored more touchdowns than Franklin on deep targets this season, but outside of that, their numbers were remarkably similar, as Franklin dealt with a quarterback significantly less inclined to take those deep shots (Bo Nix) than Thomas (Jayden Daniels). It's fair to say that Franklin hasn't been the most well-rounded receiver in the game and wonder how that translates to the next level, but the same criticisms apply to Thomas, and while the LSU product did run a faster 40 time (4.33 seconds vs. 4.41), both players displayed high-end NFL speed."

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