Ravens officials frequently call the draft the “lifeblood” of their organization and they put a tremendous amount of time and resources in preparing for it each year. They consistently downplay any outside attempt to place a greater importance on one draft compared to others.
However, as this year’s version gets closer – the three-day draft will begin on April 27 – the Ravens have the same sense of urgency that presided over their aggressive start to free agency and what’s been significant offseason roster turnover.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has spoken confidently about his team returning to the playoffs after missing out three of the past four years, but a strong draft is seen as a must.
The Ravens have seven total picks, including the 16th overall selection in the first round, two in the third round and four of the first 78 selections. Their needs include a play-making wide receiver, one or two ready-to-play offensive linemen, an explosive edge rusher and depth along the defensive front and in the secondary.
Until April 26, the day before the start of the three-day draft, The Baltimore Sun will look at the Ravens’ depth chart at each position, the likelihood that they will add to it and who they possibly could target.
Today we’ll examine quarterbacks:
Current quarterbacks under contract: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett, Dustin Vaughan
Chances that the Ravens will draft a quarterback in first three rounds: Highly unlikely. The Ravens understand that they’re going to have to start preparing for a post-Joe Flacco era at some point in the future. However, this is probably at least a year premature. Flacco played all 16 games last year and should return in better shape physically as he’s had another year to strengthen his surgically-repaired left knee. The Ravens also re-signed Mallet to a one-year deal in March. They haven’t kept three quarterbacks on their season-opening roster since 2009.
Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee), Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh)
Outlook: The Ravens haven’t picked a quarterback in four of their past five drafts and they haven’t selected one before the sixth round since using their first-round selection on Flacco in 2008. They’re always on the lookout for a developmental quarterback and a potential successor for Flacco, but right now, it’s more of a luxury than a necessity. The Ravens have far too many pressing needs to use a mid-round pick on a guy that is no sure bet to immediately unseat Mallett.
It’s also not exactly a deep quarterback draft to begin with, so the promising ones will go earlier than expected. Maybe, the Ravens find a developmental quarterback in the fifth or sixth round that they like and they pull the trigger. But taking one any earlier than that would constitute a surprise. Another disappointing year by Flacco, though, and the Ravens could be in the quarterback market next year.