Ravens position-by-position draft preview: Quarterback

Whether the Ravens have been coming off a Super Bowl victory or a season in which they fell short of the playoffs, team officials have never put a greater importance on any single draft. Their stated focus has always been on the one immediately in front of them.

It’s indisputable, though, that the 2018 version is arriving at a critical time for the organization. The Ravens have missed the playoffs in three consecutive years, the longest stretch since they failed to qualify for the postseason in their first four seasons in Baltimore. Fan frustration with one of the most stable franchises in the NFL might be at an all-time high, evidenced by the number of empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium last year as the team fought for a playoff berth. General manager Ozzie Newsome is preparing for his final season in his current position and the 2018 season will also bring questions about the futures of several other long-term franchise mainstays, including coach John Harbaugh, quarterback Joe Flacco and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

With several holes on the offensive side of the ball, the pressure is on the Ravens’ top decision makers to turn their draft currency into immediate roster help. The Ravens will head into the three-day draft, which gets underway on April 26, with eight total picks: one each in the first (16th overall), second (52nd), third (83rd), fourth (118th), fifth (154th) and seventh (238th) rounds, and two in the sixth round (190th and 215th).

Until April 25, the day before the start of the three-day draft, The Baltimore Sun will break down what the Ravens have at each position, the chance that they will add to it and what prospects could possibly be targeted with those picks.

Today we’ll look at quarterbacks.

Current quarterbacks under contract: Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III, Josh Woodrum

Chances that the Ravens will draft a quarterback in first three rounds: Decent. If the Ravens are planning to trade into the top five to get into position to take one of the draft’s top quarterbacks, they’ve done an admirable job keeping those plans under wraps. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield are expected to be long gone before the Ravens are on the clock at No. 16 and it’s not out of the question that Lamar Jackson will be as well. What appears more likely is the Ravens looking for a young developmental quarterback between the third and fifth rounds. They’ve done their homework on all the second-tier options in what is touted as a pretty deep quarterback class.

Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Luke Falk (Washington State), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Kyle Lauletta (Richmond), Chase Litton (Marshall), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Mike White (Western Kentucky)

Outlook: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said earlier this offseason that the organization is a little ways away from having to worry about finding a long-term successor to Flacco. However, Flacco’s age, recent injury problems and decline in performance suggest that it will become a priority sooner rather than later. If nothing else, the Ravens would like to come out of this draft with a young quarterback that can back up Flacco for a year or two and then ultimately seize the starting job. Finding that player outside of the first round, though, is easier said than done, even in one of the deepest quarterback classes in years. Since tabbing Flacco in the first round in 2008, the Ravens have spent a grand total of two sixth-round picks on quarterbacks: Tyrod Taylor in 2011 and Keith Wenning in 2014. But even after the recent signing of Griffin, the Ravens are expected to be more aggressive in this quarterback market this year. It would seem like a missed opportunity if they weren’t.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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