The Ravens never had a chance to draft one of the top wide receivers, but should they have taken one in the second or third round?
Teams are apparently using a new version of the trade chart to decipher the proper return in moving up or back in the draft.
So I might not have this exact, but for those of you who are still lamenting the Ravens not moving up to take one of the draft's top three receivers, consider the following: To leap over the Tennessee Titans at No.5 and make sure they had a chance to select Western Michigan's Corey Davis, the chart stipulates the Ravens would have, at the very least, had to surrender their first-round pick (16th overall), their second-rounder (47th), their first third-rounder (74th) and their fourth rounder (122nd). And that might not have even gotten it done.
To get in front of the San Diego Chargers at No. 7 to take Clemson's Mike Williams, the chart suggests the Ravens would have had to at least part with their first-rounder, second-rounder and second third-rounder. As for moving ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 9 to nab Washington's John Ross, that would have likely required the Ravens' first-rounder and both third-round picks. None of those scenarios were ever going to happen.
Now, it's fair to suggest that the Ravens should have drafted USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster over pass rusher Tyus Bowser if that's what you believe. Personally, Bowser was my favorite pick in the draft for the Ravens, but that's irrelevant. Or if you want to say that they should have used one of their two third-round picks on Alabama's ArDarius Stewart, Louisiana Tech's Carlos Henderson or Penn State's Chris Godwin, all receivers that went shortly after the Ravens picked Tim Williams, that's fine, too.
Ultimately, it is eschewing the wide receivers in the second or third round that could bite the Ravens if one of those guys pops. I'm sure the Ravens would have loved to be able to mull selecting Davis or Williams, but that opportunity never came close to presenting itself.
That the Ravens didn't pick a running back was nearly as surprising to me as their failure to select a wide receiver. It was billed as one of the deepest running back classes in recent years, but the Ravens didn't even take a shot at a third-day back, which they'd done for three consecutive years -- or four if you count fullback Kyle Juszczyk in 2013.
Sure, they're probably covered this year even with Kenneth Dixon facing a four-game suspension to start the season. A combination of Terrance West, Danny Woodhead,Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro should be enough depth to carry the load with Dixon sidelined. However, what about next year? Both West and Taliaferro are free agents after the upcoming season. Woodhead is 32 and has missed the better part of two of the past three seasons because of injuries. Dixon, meanwhile, has already had two knee injuries and a suspension in one year in the league. We'll see how this season plays out, but running back could become a major need next offseason and the Ravens had an opportunity to add a little depth.
The Ravens not drafting an inside linebacker could certainly be interpreted as a display of faith in second-year player Kamalei Correa, who is the favorite to replace Zachary Orr at weak-side linebacker. However, it also could be an indication that team officials don't feel like they need a three-down player at that spot. Correa, Albert McClellan or Patrick Onwuasor could play on early downs and the Ravens could bring an extra pass rusher or defensive back on the field on third downs.
The drafting of Williams, who has failed multiple drug tests and had a misdemeanor gun possession charge while at Alabama, has seemingly quieted the talk that the Ravens won't draft any players with character or off-field questions following the Ray Rice fallout.
Of course, such a narrative wasn't completely true in the first place. They've obviously shied away from players with domestic violence in their background, as they should, and perhaps they've been a little tepid in other situations. However, they used a sixth-rounder on Darren Waller in 2015 despite him serving a drug-related suspension at Georgia Tech.
A fourth-round pick last year, offensive lineman Alex Lewis was sentenced to 45 days in jail and two years of probation in 2014 after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for his role in a fight that left an Air Force cadet unconscious. In free agency, they signed safety Will Hill who has had myriad problems, and also gave a second chance to quarterback Ryan Mallett who hadn't always exercised the best judgment before his arrival in Baltimore. Such circumstances might not fit with the popular post-Rice narrative, but they all are examples as to why it's not entirely fair.
Suggs participating in voluntary workouts
One comment that Ravens coach John Harbaugh made during the draft really piqued my interest and it had nothing to do with one of the team's selections. Harbaugh was asked about the leadership role that veteran Terrell Suggs can take with rookie pass rushers Bowser and Williams, and he revealed that Suggs has been at the team facility taking part in the offseason workout program.
"He is really getting after it," Harbaugh said. "He is kind of leading by example right now with those guys in the offseason."
The media doesn't have access to these workouts or the team facility and the Ravens don't obsess over who is and who isn't participating in the voluntary program. However, I'm pretty comfortable saying that Suggs hasn't exactly been a regular at voluntary workouts in the past. He usually chooses to work out on his own and comes to the facility in time for the mandatory minicamp. It's interesting that he has been in the building at this time of the offseason.
I'm by no means suggesting this has anything to do with him attending, but there will be plenty of speculation about this potentially being Suggs' last year with the Ravens. He'll turn 35 in October and he has only two more years left on his contract. The Ravens could realistically get out of his contract after the 2017 season and only absorb about $2.9 million in dead money. But that will become a moot point, even with the drafting of two young pass rushers, if Suggs continues to make an impact.
The Ravens released inside linebacker Cavellis Luckett on Tuesday, the first of what could be a handful of roster moves over the next week. Luckett, a member of the team's 2016 undrafted free-agent class, was waived-injured last July and he reverted to injured reserve. The Ravens will have a bunch of tryout guys on the field later this week and usually they'll sign a couple of them after the rookie minicamp at the expense of a few of their own back-end roster guys. By the way, Justin Tucker, probably the best kicker in the NFL, came to Ravens' minicamp in 2012 on a tryout.
May 9 (next Tuesday) is a key date to keep in mind because any free agent that is signed after that point will not count against a team in the compensatory pick formula. The Ravens are presumably in position to grab an extra third-round pick in the 2018 draft because of the loss of right tackle Rick Wagner and they obviously want to preserve that.
That wouldn't stop them from immediately signing free agents like center Nick Mangold or wide receiver Victor Cruz, who were both released and wouldn't count in the compensatory formula. However, it certainly would be a reason to hold off for another week before re-signing a true unrestricted free agent like Anquan Boldin. The Ravens have held off signing somebody until after the deadline before, most notably with Daryl Smith in 2013.
Boldin and Smith remain two of the more prominent ex-Ravens who are still on the free-agent market. That list also includes running back Bobby Rainey, pass rushers Elvis Dumervil and Paul Kruger, inside linebackers Josh Bynes and Rolando McClain, and defensive backs James Ihedigbo, Matt Elam, Kendrick Lewis, Chris Lewis-Harris and Jumal Rolle.