What Mink Thinks: Why This Could Be the Year to Trade Up

GM Eric DoCosta

The Ravens typically aren't in the business of giving up draft picks. They're into hoarding picks.

But after watching the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl with a "f--- the picks" tactic, General Manager Eric DeCosta said he's thought about the Ravens' big picture strategy over the past three months.

As DeCosta said last week, the Ravens will remain a team that builds primarily through the draft. However, there is a way to pursue stars more aggressively within the draft.

Baltimore could trade to move up in the first round and better the chances of getting a game-changing talent at a position of need. Judging by how the prospects seem to be stacking up in mock drafts, this may be the year to do it.

The Ravens have often been a team that prefers to trade back and collect more picks, giving them more "lottery tickets" in a hit-or-miss proposition. The more shots you take, the higher the likelihood of hitting on one, or a few.

The Ravens have had a lot of hits with that approach. Armed with nine picks in the first four rounds, including five in the fourth, Baltimore already has plenty of ammunition. It can either take all of those shots or part with some to move up from No. 14.

While Baltimore brought back veterans Calais Campbell and Josh Bynes over the weekend to shore up a couple spots on its defense, there remains two glaring needs: cornerback and outside linebacker. The top talents at each spot might be just barely out of Baltimore's reach.

The top two cornerbacks, Cincinnati's Sauce Gardner and LSU's Derek Stingley, are projected to be off the board by pick No. 12. Stingley to the Minnesota Vikings at 12 is a very popular projection.

DeCosta said he expects a run on EDGE rushers in the top 10, which would include Michigan's Aiden Hutchinson, Georgia's Travon Walker, Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux and perhaps Florida State's Jermaine Johnson II.

That's six players the Ravens would probably run the card to the podium for. Maybe one slips through the cracks and gets to No. 14. It will likely depend on how many quarterbacks get taken ahead of Baltimore.

But if one of them slips outside the top 10 and it's not looking good to getting to 14, DeCosta could find himself reaching for the telephone. The Ravens' AFC North foes got an injection of more star power this offseason, and Baltimore will need to keep up while also filling its biggest needs.

In 2016, the Ravens tried to trade up from No. 6 to No. 4 to get Jalen Ramsey, who went to Jacksonville one pick before Baltimore took Ronnie Stanley. The Ravens reportedly offered their first-rounder and one of their five fourth-round picks, but rejected the Cowboys' counteroffer.

The Ravens' third-round pick was defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and their five fourth-round picks were cornerback Tavon Young, wide receiver Chris Moore, offensive lineman Alex Lewis, defensive tackle Willie Henry and running back Kenneth Dixon.

In 2017, the Ravens reportedly tried to move up from No. 16 to grab Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who ultimately went to New Orleans at No. 11. The Ravens ended up staying put and picking Marlon Humphrey.

Stanley and Humphrey are both All-Pro players when healthy and have become foundational players on the roster. So it all worked out. But it's also fair to wonder what the Ravens would have been like had either of those trades materialized.

The Ravens have their highest draft pick since taking Stanley at No. 6. Will they try to move up again?

"I think we do have a lot of flexibility, which is something that we covet – having the chance to move up and down," DeCosta said last week. "I would say that there's a strong possibility that we'll either have more than 10 picks, or less than 10 picks, when it's all said and done."

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