The perceived fall of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the point where it's now uncertain whether the Louisville quarterback will be picked in the first round at all is not a welcome development for the Ravens. For players like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Zack Martin, Taylor Lewan or even Eric Ebron to fall to the Ravens at No. 17, you'd have to think that a couple quarterbacks are going to need to go early. If pretty much all the quarterback-needy teams go in different directions, I think all those players I mentioned above are going to be long gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock. And that would seemingly increase the odds that the Ravens trade back into the first round and accrue additional picks.
Louisville safety Calvin Pryor probably has been the player most connected to the Ravens with the 17th overall pick, though NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock made an interesting point last week. He indicated that Pryor may not be the best complement to current Ravens starting safety Matt Elam. Pryor has good range, but he may be at his best inching toward the line of scrimmage and delivering big hits. The ideal safety partner for Elam, who is also probably more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage, would be more of a center-field type who reads quarterbacks and breaks quickly on the ball. Perhaps, that’s why I’ve heard nothing concrete that indicates that the Ravens have a lot of interest in Pryor at No. 17. Of course, if the Ravens trade back into the low to mid-20s, and Pryor is still available, perhaps that changes things. Pryor would certainly represent pretty good value at that point.
Speaking of draft trades, I’m still getting questions about whether the Ravens could trade up to grab one of the top tackles. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome poured cold water on that idea when he acknowledged last week that the Ravens lack the “ammunition” to make a significant move forward in the first round. To move up somewhere around the top 12, the Ravens would obviously need to trade their first-round pick at No. 17 in addition to one or two more draft picks. And that is problematic because only three of the Ravens’ selections after the first round are even allowed to be traded because of league rules that prohibit trading compensatory picks. So the only picks the Ravens could trade are their second-round selection (48th overall), their first of two third-rounders (No. 79) and their sixth-rounder (No. 194). In such a deep draft and with a lot of needs, it wouldn’t seem prudent to package a second- or third-rounder with your first-round pick to move up five or six slots. And I’m not sure a first-rounder, plus a sixth-rounder would be enough to entice a trade.
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I’ve said this before, but I learned long ago to not believe much of what you hear around draft time. But Newsome’s comment that there’s a receiver who the Ravens could take every round and that’s pretty much how the team’s board sets up doesn’t lead me to believe that it wouldn’t be the Ravens’ first choice to go in that direction in the first round. Now, director of college scouting Joe Hortiz saying that he expects the better cornerbacks to go really quickly makes me think that the Ravens will need to pick one by the second day or they can pretty much forget about getting immediate help at the position.
I didn’t find the fact that the Ravens haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl player since Ray Rice in 2008 all that surprising. The Pro Bowl voting and selection process isn’t exactly the best way to measure whether a player is among the best in the league at his position. The Ravens also have been drafting late in the first round for a while now, which makes it even more difficult to find Pro Bowl players. However, what did surprise me is that only the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets have had longer droughts of not drafting a Pro Bowl player. That’s not great company to be in when it comes to drafting and developing players, though I’m guessing the pair of Lombardi trophies that are sitting near the entrance of the Under Armour Performance Center speak a little louder than any Pro Bowl lists.
Former Ravens coach Brian Billick defended the Ravens’ recent drafts, speaking specifically on the opinion of some who feel that offensive tackle Michael Oher, who the Ravens drafted 23rd overall in the 2009 draft, was a bust. “Anybody that would suggest that Michael Oher was a busted pick is just flat out wrong,” Billick said while acknowledging that Oher started every game of his career, selflessly changed positions and played his best football during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. “He’s not still with the club, but you can’t keep everybody. I just don’t know how anybody can look at the Michael Oher pick like that. He’s been a good, solid starter in the league. That’s the only reasonable expectation that you can have.” Totally agree with Billick, by the way. Oher never developed into a dominant tackle. He had his flaws, but he was tough, he was a leader, he was a good teammate, and the Ravens won a lot of games with him at tackle. I’d be willing to bet Newsome doesn’t regret that pick one bit.