The two-week delay of this year’s NFL draft has given organizations more time to evaluate prospects, reporters more incentive to churn out mock drafts and fans more opportunities to imagine all the possibilities for their favorite team.
What it hasn’t done is clear up the widespread uncertainty of how Thursday night’s first round will unfold. It’s still unclear what the Houston Texans will do with the first overall selection and that extends to the Ravens and their 17th overall pick.
For the first time since 2008, the Ravens have a first-round pick that doesn’t fall in the final third of the first round. The 17th pick is their first of eight selections in the draft which boasts one of the deepest classes in years.
“I’m excited because I see the quality of player that we can get and we haven’t seen that type of player in a few years,” said Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. “So it’s exciting, but we just can’t miss the pick. We have to nail the pick.”
The Ravens’ needs have been well-documented. They lack established starters at right tackle and free safety. They are extremely thin at middle linebacker and cornerback. General manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh are also looking to add more roster competition at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and along the defensive line.
But how will they prioritize those needs and will their desire to accrue more picks result in the Ravens trading back in the first round for the fourth time in seven years? The answer to that question will depend on what happens with the 16 picks before them.
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would be great fits for the Ravens, though there’s a good chance that all of them will be gone before the Ravens are on the clock. If they are all unavailable, the Ravens could move back several spots in the first round or turn their attention to one of the top receiving prospects or the secondary offensive tackle market.
Whatever direction they go in, Newsome is confident that the organization will exit the three-day draft with some impact players.
Take a look at how the Ravens might try to improve at each position below via the draft: