Ravens news, notes on drafting Laquon Treadwell, Nick Boyle's future, more

Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell celebrates after a victory over Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl.
Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell celebrates after a victory over Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. (Jonathan Bachman / Associated Press)

Mississippi's Laquon Treadwell, who has drawn comparisons to the Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant and the Chicago Bears' Alshon Jeffery, is considered by many talent evaluators to be the best wide receiver available in the NFL draft.

But that doesn't mean everybody is sold that he'll develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Questions about his speed have dominated the lead-up to this week's NFL scouting combine. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Treadwell going in the middle of the first round. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the 26th-best prospect in the draft, behind fellow receivers Leonte Carroo of Rutgers and Josh Doctson of Texas Christian.


Yet it seems, at least from many of the Ravens fans I hear from, that Treadwell is the one guy the organization can't pass on with the sixth overall pick. I understand the team doesn't have a stud No. 1 receiver in his prime, and its two main division rivals do. (The Cleveland Browns also will have one if Josh Gordon is reinstated.) I get that the Ravens badly need another outside target for Joe Flacco.

But there just seem to be too many question marks around Treadwell for the Ravens to use the sixth pick on him. This isn't 2011, when A.J. Green and Julio Jones were drafted fourth and sixth overall, respectively, or even 2014 and 2015, when Sammy Watkins and Amari Cooper were taken fourth, respectively. Treadwell has more questions than those players.

Nothing has changed regarding quarterback Joe Flacco's contract status with the Ravens, and the player's agent isn't sure if it will.

Again, there will be a lot of questions about the Ravens' receiving corps in 2016. Will Steve Smith Sr. rebound from his Achilles tendon injury and continue to defy his age? Will last year's first-round pick, Breshad Perriman, be able to get onto the field and stay there? Is Kamar Aiken going to continue to get better? Can Michael Campanaro (River Hill) stay healthy? Darren Waller, Chris Matthews and Daniel Brown look the part, but can they be consistent NFL receivers? What do the Ravens have in Jeremy Butler, whom teammates rave about?

I still think there is enough talent on the roster that the Ravens don't have to reach to get a wide receiver. If I'm the Ravens, I'd be looking to come out of Day Two of the draft with a receiver, or at least take one early in Day Three. It's not a deep draft for wide receivers, but there still should be some quality players available in the second and third rounds. Either Ohio State's Michael Thomas or Notre Dame's Will Fuller would be a nice second-day addition for the Ravens.

Safety crunch

It's too early to start a roster breakdown, because so much can change in the weeks ahead, but the Ravens are going to have to make some hard decisions with their safeties.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft for ESPN that has Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa falling out of the top five could be the ideal scenario for Ravens.

I just don't see how they can afford to carry Lardarius Webb, Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Matt Elam and Anthony Levine on their roster. And that's not even mentioning restricted-free-agent safety Bryden Trawick, one of the team's core special team players.

Plus, team officials talked last month about adding another safety this offseason. I'm not sure where there's room unless a few of the aforementioned safeties are let go.

Boyle's future

Nick Boyle's 10-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the tight end's second ban in a little over two months, led to speculation that the 2015 fifth-round pick will be cut for his latest lapse in judgment. I'm sure team officials are furious with Boyle, but I wouldn't be so quick to assume that they'll dump him.

Remember, the Ravens gave a former fifth-round pick, Asa Jackson, a third chance after he twice was suspended for violating the league's PED policy. And Boyle contributed a heck of a lot more in his rookie season than Jackson.

Having already served a four-game suspension to end his rookie season, Ravens tight end Nick Boyle will now be banned for the first 10 games in 2016 after again being found in violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

No disrespect to Boyle, but I don't think his pending suspension changes a thing heading into the season for the Ravens. He was slated to be their No. 3 tight end.

Maybe his role could be filled by Harold Spears, whom the Ravens signed to a reserve-future deal, or exclusive-rights free agent Konrad Reuland. Maybe the Ravens drag their old friend Billy Bajema, who was cut and re-signed about 50 times a couple of seasons ago, out of retirement (OK, I'm kidding). Or maybe the Ravens bring in an undrafted free agent who is known as a good blocker.

What they don't need to do is use another draft pick on a tight end or spend even a modest amount of money on a tight end in free agency. If I were ordering the Ravens' needs right now, a No. 3 tight end might not crack the top 10.


Ngata's market

In case you missed it, the NFL Network reported that former Raven Haloti Ngata plans to play in 2016 and possibly beyond.

The Ravens' tight salary cap situation, along with the bloated franchise figure for offensive linemen, will prevent the team from using the tag on Kelechi Osemele.

A pending free agent, Ngata turned 32 last month and is coming off a season with the Detroit Lions in which he battled some injuries. Ngata was solid when healthy, but all the the double teams he has faced over the years have taken their toll.

If he doesn't re-sign with the Lions, and it sounds like a decent possibility that he will, it would be really interesting to see what sort of market he has. The draft is loaded with quality defensive linemen, which can't help Ngata land a big free-agent deal.

Canty's contract

Brian McFarland, who does a really nice job writing for Russell Street Report, has been all over this, so credit where it's due.

I've written that defensive end Chris Canty is a candidate to be released. Technically, the Ravens could just decline his 2016 option, not release him. That distinction matters because if the Ravens decline the option, which they are expected to do before the new league year starts March 9, it keeps alive their chances of getting a compensatory selection should Canty sign with another team.

If they released him, there would be no such pick for Canty.

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