The Ravens have added an intriguing, experienced veteran in Robert Griffin III.
But that does not change the likelihood that they draft a rookie quarterback later this month, both General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.
“No, we will grade the players, set the board, and if there’s a quarterback that we feel that we can pick at any of our picks, we’ll do it,” Newsome said.
The Ravens like this year’s quarterback class a lot. It offers elite options and depth, and Baltimore has been clear that it could jump into the action.
Not only could a rookie quarterback compete with Griffin for the backup job, but he could also take over for Joe Flacco at some point in the future. Flacco, 33, dealt with a back injury last season and posted his lowest quarterback rating (80.4) since his rookie year.
So what quarterback could the Ravens take?
According to most mock drafts, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and UCLA’s Josh Rosen will all be selected within the first five picks.
Oklahoma’s Baker Bayfield could also be out of reach, although former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah mocked him to Baltimore at No. 16 a month ago.
Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph are considered, at least by most pundits, to be in the next tier, and could go either in the first or second rounds.
Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta has a very high opinion of up to six quarterbacks.
“Obviously at the top, you’ve got four, five or six guys that have a chance to be really good players, we think,” DeCosta said. “That’s going to make this first round very interesting.”
Teams will likely trade up to grab the quarterback they covet. It happens nearly every year. At No. 16, the Ravens could be in position to either move forward or back in that mix.
If the Ravens wait until Day 2, or perhaps even Day 3, DeCosta believes they could still grab a future starter under center.
“I think this is a really, really strong quarterback class,” DeCosta said. “There’s probably eight or nine guys that have a chance to come in and, over their first contract, be guys that have a chance to start, play effectively, compete and be winning players.”
Diving deeper, some of the potential names on that list could include Washington State’s Luke Falk, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, Western Kentucky’s Mike White, Marshall’s Chase Litton, Memphis’ Riley Ferguson or Virginia’s Kurt Benkert.
Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said some of those quarterbacks may have been taken higher in past years when there wasn’t as much quarterback depth, but DeCosta believes they could still go earlier than perhaps their grades suggest.
Much like skill positions such as wide receiver, quarterbacks are pushed up the board because of their importance and glamor.
“I think the fact that those [top-tier] quarterbacks are going to go so high is going to force other teams into a panic that sets in for those teams that didn’t get one of those four guys, and they’re probably going to overreach on some of those other guys,” DeCosta said.
If that’s the case, the question is whether Baltimore would be willing to reach right along with those other teams. The Ravens have Flacco, so they’re not desperate to add an immediate starter, but certainly open to a young, high-potential talent.
“Pick the best player for us, and there are a lot of things that go into that,” Harbaugh said. “Could be a quarterback, could be a defensive tackle.”