50 Words or Less: Special Prospects Could Challenge Need in Draft

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis is shown in action during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Athens, Ga., in this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Before we talk about football, we're going to talk about a legend. John Eisenberg informed readers yesterday that he's retiring after 38 years covering Baltimore sports and more than a decade as our columnist. John is an artist with his words, painting with unmatched beauty, clarity, and nuance.

Now I will absorb John's role here for the Ravens. It reminds me of when Ray Lewis retired. Nobody could fill those shoes; you just hope that some of his magic rubbed off. I'm not half the columnist John was, but I'll keep working at it. Please be patient.

Re-signing Calais Campbell and Josh Bynes are key moves, but they don't alter the Ravens' draft checklist much. Getting younger on the D-line is still a high priority, especially with Derek Wolfe (hip) on the mend. Bynes' snaps will be limited and Chris Board's reps need to be replaced.

Pass rusher and cornerback remain the Ravens' top two immediate needs by a healthy margin. It would be tough to pass up on one of the top prospects (such as edge Jermaine Johnson II or cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr. and Trent McDuffie) from either position at No. 14.

The more I watch McDuffie, the more he makes sense for the Ravens. Sure, he isn't built like Jimmy Smith. But he's only an inch shorter and several pounds lighter than Marlon Humphrey. McDuffie is physical, sticky and has ball skills. He could learn from fellow former Huskie Marcus Peters.

However, a special prospect such as Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis, or maybe even Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd, could trump the biggest need if they're considerable higher on Baltimore's draft board. Eric DeCosta is always hunting for value and fit. Davis would be quite a sight.

There's certainly a good debate to be had about the value of a ginormous run-stuffing defensive tackle such as Davis in a pass-happy league. But don't forget the Ravens' AFC North foes all like to run the ball. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah compared Davis to Albert Haynesworth in his prime.

The lack of pre-draft wide receiver chatter has been both refreshing and strange, but after Sammy Watkins signed with the Green Bay Packers this week, you have to wonder if the Ravens will draft one. DeCosta likes to keep taking shots at that spot and has five fourth-round picks.

Anybody suggesting the Ravens should invest a first-round pick in a quarterback should consider how that worked out for the Packers and Jordan Love. Not the same scenarios, but both unnecessary and extremely costly insurance policies. Simply put, it's not happening.

The Ravens are in the insurance market this offseason with so many star players coming back from season-ending injuries. But with needs elsewhere, it's tough to envision spending a first-round pick on an offensive tackle, for example, that would be out of position if things go according to plan.

I'll be rooting for DeShon Elliott to thrive with the Detroit Lions. He's a good player with bad (injury) luck. Just because the Ravens wanted to diversify their safeties' skillsets more this offseason with the signing of Marcus Williams doesn't mean Elliott isn't very good at what he does.

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