The Ravens are making no bones about it. They know they have to come away with somebody special from this year's draft.
As long as the Ravens stay at pick No. 6, it will be their highest draft pick since 2000 when they selected running back Jamal Lewis at No. 5 overall.
"We're looking for instant coffee with the first pick," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We need someone to come in right away and be an impact player."
Lewis made a huge impact in his rookie season, rushing for 1,364 yards and six touchdowns, and, at times, carrying the Ravens' stagnant offense.
Baltimore went from an 8-8 team in 1999 to a 12-4 team and Super Bowl champion in 2000.
"We've been fortunate in years past to get Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister – guys in the first part of the draft who impacted the team right away and became excellent players," DeCosta said. "We're looking for that guy."
An immediate impact player generally has to fit two criteria. They have to be super talented and they have to fill a position of need.
DeCosta said the quality of the players at the top of this year's draft is "very, very substantial."
"We feel like we know who these players are at the top of the draft, we've spent a lot of time on these guys," he said. "There's a lot of talent at the top of the draft, and we see some guys who can come in right away and contribute and be impact players for us. … If we do our job the right way, that's what should happen."
Some of the top players in this draft also match the Ravens' needs.
There are two playmaking cover cornerbacks in Florida State's Jalen Ramsey and Florida's Vernon Hargreaves. Ohio State's strong pass rusher and run stopper, Joey Bosa, could step in for Courtney Upshaw if the unrestricted free agent leaves.
Massive Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner would fill in for departed veteran Chris Canty,* *and UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack would add more speed and coverage skills in the place of Daryl Smith. Offensive tackles, Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil or Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley, would bolster the offensive line, particularly if free Kelechi Osemele leaves.
DeCosta wouldn't say which position would be ideal at No. 6, leaning on the best-player-available mantra.
"I think the task for us to find the right guy; that's ability, personality, background, durability, football intelligence," DeCosta said. "All these different factors play together, and that's how we're going to find the right guy."