Many general managers aim for the perfect NFL draft. Is it practical? No. Is it fun to theorize what a perfect NFL draft would be? Yes.
In that case, Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports set out four criteria for the Baltimore Ravens to fill to have a “perfect NFL draft.”
DeArdo admits that the Ravens “don’t have many roster holes,” but he also contends that they need to acquire championship-level pieces in the upcoming draft. Here are his ideal goals for the Ravens.
1. “Double-dip at WR for Lamar Jackson”
This can be taken in two ways. DeArdo lays out a plan for the Ravens to double-dip with first-round receivers, adding someone like Justin Jefferson in this draft. The Ravens spent their 2019 first-round pick on fellow receiver Marquise Brown.
Jefferson is not a lock to be available when the Ravens are on the clock. In his place, the Ravens could look at the likes of Denzel Mims. With a handful of receiver needy teams ahead of them in the draft order, Jefferson seems like a pipe dream.
However, DeArdo left the door open for the Ravens to select a pair of receivers late in the draft. He looks at colleague Chris Trapasso’s selections of Tyler Johnson and Joe Reed on Day 3. Johnson is a versatile and explosive former Minnesota Golden Gopher. Johnson posted a pair of 1,000-yard and 12-touchdown seasons. Reed comes from Virginia. He scored 22 total touchdowns in four seasons, returning five kicks for touchdowns.
The receivers in the draft are so deep that the Ravens could find a star on Day 3. Johnson is the 13th-ranked receiver, and Reed is the 24th-ranked receiver according to CBS Sports. If the Ravens were to miss on those two, they have a dozen other options. CBS Sports has 40 wide receivers in their top 255 prospects, so there is ample opportunity for the Ravens to secure solid options. Some middle-round options include Devin Duvernay, Antonio Gandy-Golden, and Van Jefferson. In the later rounds, Baltimore could snag Collin Johnson, John Hightower, Quintez Cephus, or Omar Bayless. General manager Eric DeCosta and his array of scouts likely have their ideal picks set out, but the draft is always chaotic.
2. Draft C.J. Mosley’s replacement
DeArdo lays out three options at linebacker: Patrick Queen, Kenneth Murray, and Zack Baun. Queen and Murray are near locks to be first-round picks while Baun is likely a second-round pick. Queen is a one-year starter for the reigning champion LSU Tigers. Murray comes from Oklahoma, and he is the most common mock pick I have seen. Baun took a while to develop at Wisconsin, but he blossomed in 2019.
Of the three, Murray seems to be the best Day 1 starter. Queen likely has a higher ceiling, but he has less production than the former Sooner. Baun was aptly described by nfl.com as having “boom-or-bust potential.” Baun spent five seasons in Madison, and his ceiling is likely lower than Murray’s or Queen’s. DeArdo notes Baun as a “perfect fit for the Ravens’ defensive blueprint,” but he may be too similar to Kamalei Correa. Correa is successful now, but he was lost in the wash in Baltimore. The Ravens should go with Queen or Murray in the first round, punting on Baun until the second (if available).
3. “Find a formidable EDGE they can develop”
If the Ravens were to move on from Matt Judon, this need likely jumps in the list. However, Judon will likely be on the Ravens for the foreseeable future. The Ravens desperately need another productive pass rusher. Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe will help, but the Ravens led the NFL in blitz rate while finishing 21st in sacks. While the Ravens have a great secondary, exposing the back end each play is risky. With that said, DeArdo listed several options in the second, third, and fourth rounds.
His second-round options were Josh Uche and Curtis Weaver. Uche, from Michigan, is brimming with potential as an athlete. In Ann Arbor, he often drifted back into coverage, but he projects as a pass rusher in the NFL. Boise State’s Weaver is not as good of an athlete, but only Chase Young was more productive than the former Bronco. Uche can be knocked for being too raw while Weaver can be knocked for playing against Mountain West tackles. Both would be solid selections.
In the third round, DeArdo proposed Darrell Taylor, Bradlee Anae, and Khalid Kareem. Taylor recorded 19.5 sacks in his final three seasons with Tennessee. Anae had 27.5 sacks in his final three seasons with Utah. Kareem had 13 sacks in three seasons with Notre Dame.
DeArdo pegged Alex Highsmith, Alton Robinson, and Kenny Willekes as potential fourth-round picks. At Charlotte, Highsmith recorded 40 tackles for loss and 18 sacks over the last two seasons. He led Conference-USA in both categories in 2019. The Syracuse man, Robinson, fell off from his terrific 2018 production in 2019. In 2018, only future top-five pick Clelin Ferrell was more productive in the ACC. Willekes registered three seasons with 13 or more tackles for loss for Michigan State. He had 10 sacks in 2019.
The 2020 class of EDGEs is fairly deep, so the Ravens might be better served to take two in the third or fourth round. In recent years, Baltimore has had bad luck in developing pass rushers, but all they need is to get one pick to hit.
4. “Replenish the depth on the O-line”
The retirement of Marshal Yanda is a massive blow, but the Ravens have other potential holes on the offensive line. With Yanda gone, the Ravens will have to lean on incumbent Ben Powers or a 2020 draft pick. Outside of right guard, center is a point of contention as Matt Skura missed the last half of the 2019 season with an injury. Despite having two of the best tackles in the NFL, the Ravens might take a tackle to make James Hurst expendable.
The Ravens will likely use their first pick on a linebacker or wide receiver, but Cesar Ruiz would be a first-round option for the interior of the offensive line. On Day 2, DeArdo points out Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin as a potential target. For Day 3, the Ravens could go after Kevin Dotson from Louisiana.
At tackle, DeArdo recommends Scott Frantz from Kansas State.
This article is based on a CBS Sports article. For the original article, go here.
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