April Fools Day means we are only 22 days away from the biggest night of the NFL off-season, the NFL Draft. The NFL is insisting the draft will go ahead, despite the COVID-19 outbreak across the world. The virus has changed the draft. It will now focus on teams and prospects in isolation instead of the busy show the NFL usually puts on.
The Baltimore Ravens have the 28th overall pick, looking for the final pieces to mount another SuperBowl run next season. The team has improved through free agency, so what needs do they have heading into the draft?
Biggest Need: Linebacker
The Ravens’ flaw last season was getting defensive pressure on the quarterback. They ranked 21st in the NFL with 37 sacks last season, and this has been the priority for this off-season. General manager Eric DeCosta traded a fifth-round pick to Jacksonville for Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell. He has 17 sacks in the past two years. The team also franchise-tagged top pass rusher Matt Judon (9.5 sacks in 2019), signed defensive end Derek Wolfe (seven sacks last season), and re-signed defensive tackles, Jihad Ward and Justin Ellis.
The team has dramatically improved its pass rush, but they have yet to address the linebacker position. If the season started today, they would have journeyman L.J Fort, role-player Tyus Bowser and undrafted free agents Chris Board and Otaro Alaka. The Ravens will almost certainly target either Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray or LSU’s Patrick Queen in the first round. A star linebacker is the only missing piece on this defense.
Second Big Need: Wide Receiver
The Ravens used their first-round pick last year to select Oklahoma receiver Hollywood Brown, a move that paid off. He was pivotal to the Ravens offensive success last season, with his speed forcing opposing defenses to compromise to defend him, opening pass or rushing lanes elsewhere.
The key to the Ravens last year was their tight ends, and they traded away 2018 first-round pick Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick. Teams will have more tape on the Ravens run game, so they’ll likely need quarterback Lamar Jackson to continue improving as a passer. The wide receiver class this year has tremendous depth, and something the Ravens could target with their two second-round selections. Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool or Michael Pittman of USC would be great additions late in round two to fill the second most prominent need for Baltimore.
That wraps up my quick piece looking at team needs for the Ravens, feel free to follow the site Overtime Heroics for all the latest sports news. Follow the sites NFL page here for all the latest NFL news heading into draft season. Also be sure to check out the site forum online here.
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