Baltimore Ravens

Ravens news, notes and opinions

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, director of college scouting Joe Hortiz and head coach John Harbaugh will be available to reporters later this morning at the team's pre-draft luncheon. Expect to hear plenty of the following: "We love draft picks." "We'll take the best player available." "There could be a player at [insert position] that we could take in every round."

Such comments are constants at the annual event, and I would expect that this year's version will be no different. The Ravens aren't going to tip their hand as to what they're going to do with the sixth overall pick, nor should they. It will be interesting, however, to hear where they view the strengths in this draft and whether they are as dismissive about trading up in the first round as team owner Steve Bisciotti was last month.


This is a big week of pre-draft visits for the Ravens as Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence and Mississippi defensive end Robert Nkemdiche are all expected to be at the Under Armour Performance Center, according to various reports.  Ragland was in the building earlier this week.

There's a lot of attention on visits, especially this year given that the Ravens are choosing earlier than they are used to in the first round. However, it's important to remember that the Ravens meet with or speak to many, many prospects, whether it's at the combine, Senior Bowl, pro days or individual workouts.


And that doesn't necessarily mean that they always have significant interest in that player. Sometimes, they are just doing due diligence on a future opponent. Other times, they want other teams in front of them to think that they are interested in a certain player to better the chances that the player that they do covet falls to them. In other words, visits are important, but they don't always tell the whole story.

I wrote in this space last week that I was having a hard time gauging how interested the Ravens were in Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Well, the more I hear, the more I believe that Buckner is ranked very highly on the Ravens' board, even though the team is pretty deep along the defensive line. If Ramsey and Ohio State pass rusher Joey Bosa are taken within the first five picks, it would be interesting to see what the Ravens would do at six if Buckner and UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack are still on the board. I guess there's no guarantee that they'd select Bosa if he was available either.

There are still some free agents on the market who would help the Ravens. Pass rusher Dwight Freeney immediately comes to mind. A veteran corner, like Jerraud Powers, Leon Hall and Greg Toler, would be a nice addition. There are some people that would like the Ravens to add Percy Harvin even after the team signed Mike Wallace.

However, keep in mind that Courtney Upshaw's deal with the Atlanta Falcons likely recouped a third or fourth-round compensatory pick for the Ravens. Do you put that at risk by signing a veteran? My guess is Newsome's answer is, "No." Free agents signed after May 12 don't factor in the compensatory pick formula. You might as well wait until after that date. By then, you'll know what holes the roster still has following the draft.

Speaking of Upshaw, that the Ravens chose not to match the one-year, $1.25 million contract the strong-side linebacker got from the Falcons tells you what the Ravens think about second-year player Za'Darius Smith. They are confident that Smith will be able to set the edge in the run game and provide more of a pass-rushing threat.

The Ravens are holding a free summit for leaders of high school football teams at M&T Bank Stadium on May 7, and one of the featured speakers is Brian Billick. Between this and Billick speaking to the Ravens last training camp, it's nice to see that the former head coach is getting more involved with the team. Perhaps, the involvement will ultimately result in Billick going into the team's "Ring of Honor." It would be well deserved for a coach that led the Ravens to their first Super Bowl championship.

If you are into this type of thing – and many of you are judging by the number of questions I've gotten on it – it appears that safety Eric Weddle will be wearing No. 32 with his new team. Weddle tweeted a picture of his father wearing a Ravens' Weddle No. 32 jersey.