Another NFL Scouting Combine ends Sunday, one that will help the Ravens put their offseason plans in clearer focus. Here are 10 takes on what transpired in Indianapolis and its impact on the Ravens.
Expect mock drafts to continue linking inside linebackers Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma and Patrick Queen of LSU to the Ravens. They left the Combine still ranked as the top inside linebackers. It's possible both could be gone when the Ravens pick at No. 28, but at least one could still be available. Some NFL scouts prefer Murray, others prefer Queen, but both are playmakers at a position of need for Baltimore. Queen and Murray both suffered an apparent hamstring injury on their second attempt in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. But even if they don't run at their respective Pro Days, their draft stock remains solid. Queen was a defensive force on an LSU team that won the national championship. Murray has a remarkable life story and went on social media after the Combine to say his spirits were still high despite his injury.
The Matthew Judon decision remains the biggest one facing the Ravens in the early offseason. The 15-day window to tag free agents began Feb. 27, and General Manager Eric DeCosta said placing the franchise tag on the team's leading pass rusher remained a possibility. DeCosta was still hopeful Baltimore and Judon could agree to a long-term deal and avoid the tag. But if the Ravens were to lose Judon, finding a pass rusher in this draft would become an even higher priority.
After drafting two wide receivers last year, it will be surprising if the Ravens don't draft at least one receiver this year. There are so many good ones, like Justin Jefferson of LSU, Chase Claypool of Notre Dame and Henry Ruggs of Alabama who all wowed at the Combine. It wasn't the best week for Laviska Shenault of Colorado, a wide receiver who NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks would be a great fit in the Ravens offense. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Shenault will have core muscle surgery after the Combine and he is expected to be sideline four to six weeks. However, the Ravens still drafted Marquise Brown, who didn't run at last year's Combine when he was still recovering from foot surgery. The Combine reinforced that this is a terrific draft to add another wide receiver weapon for Lamar Jackson.
Bradlee Anae of Utah leaves the Combine as an edge rusher who could be in range for Baltimore in the second round. This has been a good offseason for Anae who also had an impressive Senior Bowl week. Anae had 13 sacks last year, a proven college pass rusher like Jaylon Ferguson who was a third-round pick for the Ravens in 2019. With the size (6-foot-3, 257 pounds) and strength to set the edge against the run, Anae showed athleticism in drills. While his 40-yard dash time wasn't great (4.92 seconds), it shouldn't hurt his stock.
Don't sleep on the cornerbacks in this draft. The Ravens are deep at the position, and they drafted USC cornerback Iman Marshall last year. However, DeCosta said at the Combine that veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith could hit free agency, and the Ravens had still not decided whether to pick up the contract option of veteran cornerback Brandon Carr. NFL Draft analyst Bucky Brooks has mocked LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton to the Ravens in the first round. The Ravens don't seem likely to take a corner that early. But that doesn't mean they won't take a corner later.
If eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda retires, the Ravens could be more inclined to draft an interior offensive lineman. However, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is not overwhelmed with this year's guard class. "As of now, I don't have a single guard with a first, second, or third-round grade," Kiper wrote. But that doesn't mean the Ravens won't go shopping for offensive linemen, and they've had success developing young linemen like right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., left guard Bradley Bozeman and centers Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari. "Offensive line's always going to be something that we're known for, and we're going to draft offensive linemen every single year," DeCosta said.
The AFC North remains likely to add Joe Burrow to its list of talented quarterbacks. Burrow ended the rumors that he wouldn't play for the Cincinnati Bengals at the Combine. Burrow is the favorite to be drafted No. 1 by Cincinnati, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are optimistic about Ben Roethlisberger's recovery from elbow surgery. The division's four starting quarterbacks in 2020 figure to be Jackson, Roethlisberger, Burrow and Baker Mayfield (Cleveland). That's an impressive foursome.
The impressive Combine workout of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love could help the Ravens in the draft. Love could be another quarterback who is drafted ahead of the Ravens' first-round pick at No. 28. The more quarterbacks that are taken before Baltimore picks, the more likely a player the Ravens want will fall to them.
It was eye-opening to see how fast some of the offensive and defensive linemen ran at the Combine, along with the wide receivers, running backs, and linebackers. Fortunately for the Ravens, they've added some gifted athletes to their roster the past several years, most notably Jackson, the league's MVP. With Jackson at the helm and the Ravens coming off a record-setting offensive season, they're trending with where the league is headed – faster and more explosive.
It's important to remember that not all of the Ravens' additions for next season will come from players at the Combine. They've consistently found undrafted players to help them, and free agency could offer some surprises. Not many people expected the Ravens to sign running back Mark Ingram II and safety Earl Thomas III after last year's Combine, but by signing them during free agency, the Ravens were able to address other needs during the draft. What happens with Judon, Smith, and other free agents will impact will how the Ravens prioritize the draft.