ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay put out his second mock draft this week and he has the Ravens using the 16th overall pick on Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell after his first one projected them to take Missouri defensive end Charles Harris.
McShay’s ESPN colleague and verbal sparring partner, Mel Kiper Jr., connected the Ravens with Michigan’s hybrid safety Jabrill Peppers.
In his mock this week, former Ravens scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah has the Ravens taking another Michigan player, defensive end Taco Charlton. Three other NFL.com writers have recently put out mock drafts, and they had the Ravens taking Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson (Bucky Brooks), UCLA outside linebacker Takkarist McKinley (Lance Zierlein) and Washington cornerback Sidney Jones (Chad Reuter).
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports predicts the Ravens will select Miami tight end David Njoku, while his colleague, Rob Rang, also lists Peppers as the Ravens’ pick.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report goes with Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey for the Ravens.
By now, you get the point. The mock drafts are all over the map, not only in terms of the players the Ravens could select with the 16th pick, but in terms of their positions.
That shouldn’t be a surprise, especially this early in the game. The NFL scouting combine is still a couple of weeks away. Prospect visits will happen after that. It’s still way too early to know how teams specifically feel about certain players. Mock drafts, at this time of year, are great for page clicks, but they’re little more than guesswork for most pundits.
More specifically for the Ravens, I suspect it’s going to be one of the years where the projections remain all over the map right up until draft day on April 27. Ravens’ fans tire of hearing in the days leading up to the draft that the team will take the best-player available. In recent years, the Ravens have primarily taken the best-player available at one of their primary two or three positions of need.
This year, the Ravens have five or six main needs, depending on what they do in free agency. A case could be made that their biggest need is a cornerback, but you’ll find just as many people who believe a pass rusher is an even bigger hole.
With Zachary Orr retiring, the Ravens don’t currently have an obvious starting inside linebacker to play alongside C.J. Mosley, and they are extremely thin at safety, where they could get even thinner if veteran Lardarius Webb is a salary cap casualty.
The Ravens badly need playmakers on offense, so would they be able to resist if either of the draft’s top two running backs – Louisiana State’s Leonard Fournette or Florida State’s Dalvin Cook – or arguably the draft’s top receiver – Clemson’s Mike Williams – surprisingly falls to 16?
We haven’t even discussed the team’s repeated goal of upgrading the offensive line.
Again, you get the point. There is a lot of uncertainty about the Ravens’ pick and there will continue to be because of their myriad needs.