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10 Things We (Maybe) Learned From the Pre-Draft Press Conference

GM Eric DeCosta
GM Eric DeCosta

The Ravens held their annual pre-draft press conference Tuesday, which has been unofficially dubbed the "Liars Luncheon" because they don't want to tip their hand in the upcoming draft.

General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh answered questions for 35 minutes and didn't mention a single specific prospect.

Here's are 10 topics they did talk about, and what we (maybe) learned from the media session:

1. The Ravens are doing their homework on the offensive linemen.

DeCosta said the Ravens spent all day (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) with scouts and coaches hashing out their offensive linemen rankings and concluded that it's "stacked across the board in most rounds."

Harbaugh reiterated his belief that some young players already on the roster could step into the three open starting roles. DeCosta added that the team's medical staff and strength coaches are excited about the progress of guard Andrew Vorhees.

Still, there's no question that the Ravens will use the draft to add potential Day 1 starters and competition. It's a deep class and Baltimore is expected to make multiple picks at that position.

"I certainly think it's a big factor for us in terms of team building this year," DeCosta said. "It's a very deep pool of players. We see a lot of different opportunities in different rounds to get players at tackle, guard and center, and we're excited about that."

2. It would take a "premium" to trade back from pick No. 30.

Picking so late in the first round, DeCosta said the strategy is to pray that someone ranked in their top 20 slides. If that doesn't happen, could the Ravens trade back?

The Ravens currently have nine picks. Always a fan of adding more picks, DeCosta said he would like more in a specific (unspecified) range – probably on Day 2.

One way to get more Day 2 picks would be to trade back and out of the first round. If none of the top offensive tackles are available at No. 30 and there aren't any "must-have" players on the board, Baltimore could jump into the next tackle tier in the second round.

However, that would mean giving up their top pick's fifth-year option, which is reserved for first-round picks. To do that, DeCosta said the Ravens would require a "premium" trade offer.

3. Cornerback class is just "solid."

DeCosta said this year's cornerback class is "solid" but not as good as offensive line and wide receiver. With that said, there are players that could come in right away and "compete to start." Baltimore has its two starters in place with Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens, and re-signed nickel Arthur Maulet, but more reinforcements and competition are needed.

DeCosta said the Ravens would "love" to add a talented cornerback at some point in the draft, adding that it could be in any of the first three rounds. "If we have a chance to draft a corner this year, you can count on us to do that," he said.


600: Takeaways From Ravens' Pre-Draft Press Conference

Our insiders, Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing, break down the biggest talking points, including the Ravens' work on the offensive line class, the possibility of trading back, how they see the EDGE and CB classes, and more.

4. Ravens looking at Tier 2 edge rushers.

Picking at No. 30, the Ravens aren't going to be in range for some of the premier edge rushers, but DeCosta wants to find the "sweet spot" in an otherwise "average" draft class for outside linebackers.

"The challenge for us will be who's that next tier group of guys in that sweet spot between the 25th player to the 45th player that we have a chance to get either at 30 or at 62," DeCosta said.

While DeCosta and the Ravens are happy to bring back veteran Kyle Van Noy in free agency, and expect youngsters Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo to have breakout 2024 seasons, Baltimore isn't ruling out a first-round pass rusher.

5. There's a "strong chance" of drafting a running back.

The Ravens added their clear lead running back in free agency by inking Derrick Henry. That puts Henry, Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell, who is recovering from knee surgery, as the team's top three running backs.

However, it's clear that Baltimore is considering adding another young back to the mix. DeCosta said he expects a lot of running backs to be taken between the third and fifth rounds and the Ravens have "looked at those guys very closely and are excited about some of those players."

"There's probably a pretty strong chance we will draft a running back at some point," DeCosta said.

6. Having confidence in Trenton Simpson doesn't mean Baltimore won't draft an inside linebacker.

The departure of Patrick Queen (Steelers) makes Trenton Simpson a potential starter in his second season.

"Trenton is going to have a great season," DeCosta said. "He has a great attitude. I think he grew as much as anyone this year. He showed up on special teams, he played on defense, he made some plays late in the year. He has as much talent as any inside linebacker in this year's draft class."

However, DeCosta said the Ravens may draft an inside linebacker, even after re-signing Malik Harrison and signing Chris Board in free agency.

DeCosta said there's a lot of linebacker depth in the second through fourth rounds and it's "certainly a position we will look at, particularly if they can play on special teams."

7. A collaborative group is handling the departure of Joe Hortiz.

This will be DeCosta's first draft as general manager without former Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz, who is now the Chargers' GM. DeCosta said it feels different not having Hortiz by his side, but a talented group remains in place to keep the pre-draft process running smoothly.

"It's been a change for me, definitely," DeCosta said. "I miss Joe, I miss his personality. Joe's a great evaluator. Great instincts. In saying that, we've got other guys that excel at that as well. (Head Coach) John (Harbaugh) is a great evaluator. (Executive Vice-President) Ozzie Newsome's a Hall of Fame evaluator. (Director of Player Personnel) George Kokinis, (Director of College Scouting) David Blackburn, our coaches do a great job. We definitely have guys who can pick up the slack."

8. A smaller pool of draftable players increases the likelihood that Baltimore will trade a late-round pick.

The Ravens will be pretty much done stacking their board by the end of the week and have fewer players rated as draft worthy than they did last year. That could make it more attractive for them to trade a pick on Day 3 in exchange for a higher pick in 2025.

"Because of COVID partly and NIL, this whole draft landscape has changed," DeCosta said. "There's less players in the draft this year. There's less draftable players, less underclassmen. We've talked about the idea of getting to the later rounds of the draft, if there's nobody there that you covet, potentially trading that pick for a better pick."

DeCosta revealed that Owner Steve Bisciotti is a fan of this kind of move.

9. Malik Cunningham's role as a quarterback/wide receiver has yet to be determined.

Josh Johnson has been re-signed as the No. 2 quarterback behind Jackson, while Harbaugh said Malik Cunningham's role as a potential quarterback/wide receiver would continue to be evaluated.

"I think that remains to be seen," Harbaugh said. "We're going to take a look at him and see how he does. He's definitely developmental as a quarterback. He's developmental as a wide receiver, too. But he's a good athlete. He's a good person. He's a competitive guy, he wants to do well."

Could the Ravens draft a Day 3 quarterback to develop behind Jackson and Johnson?

10. Ravens waiting to get Jackson's favorites at wide receiver.

DeCosta didn't rule out taking a wide receiver in the first round again, but he also said it's one of the deepest positions in this year's class.

Shortly after the season ended, the Ravens spoke with Jackson about the type of receiver he would like to add to the team this offseason. Now Jackson has been tasked with a couple assignments to provide more specifics on players he likes.

"He looks at guys on tape. Lamar has never been shy about sharing his opinion about draft picks or free agents," Harbaugh said. "He hasn't weighed in quite yet, but he will."

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