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To trade or not to trade? Answer often isn't difficult for Ravens

Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta has declined to interview for other positions in recent years.
Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta has declined to interview for other positions in recent years. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

When the Ravens are on the clock with the sixth overall pick on April 28, the decision whether to select a player or trade back won't be a complicated one.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and team officials will simply evaluate the return, what players will be available at the proposed spot that they'd move back to, and make a decision from there.

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If there are three players in that range of the first round that they like and evaluate similarly, they'll be willing to move back as many as three spots because it will assure them that they'll get one of those players, while picking up an extra pick or two in the process.

"Sometimes it's really easy" to decide," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said last week.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said last month that the team almost certainly wouldn't sacrifice the necessary assets to move up in the first round. They have nine total picks and team officials feel like that they need them to add more depth and talent to the organization.

However, moving back remains very much in play, and it's something the Ravens have done on several occasions. They did it in 2010 and 2012, moving out of the first round in those drafts altogether. They did it in 2008, moving back from eight to 26 after a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars before moving up again to 18 to select quarterback Joe Flacco.

"I love picks," said DeCosta, echoing a statement that you'll hear from several Ravens' decision makers at this time of year. "You want to have as many picks as you can because there is an element of luck involved when you're dealing with people, human emotion. You need a lot of chances to hit on guys. If you have 12 picks and you have a couple of comp picks, and you have a chance to take a Pernell McPhee in the bottom of the fifth round, you might hit on a guy. Whereas if you only have five or six picks, your chances on hitting on all of those picks or some of those picks is severely diminished."

The Ravens will enter this year's draft in prime trading territory. If one of the draft's top two quarterbacks – North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and California's Jared Goff – doesn't go in the top five, the sixth spot would be a nice landing spot for a team looking for a potential quarterback and wanting to get ahead of the quarterback-needy San Francisco 49ers who pick seventh.

It also would make sense for a team looking for a running back, like the Philadelphia Eagles at eight and the Miami Dolphins at 13, to try and get to six if Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott, considered the top offensive player in the draft, is still on the board.

Traditionally willing trade partners, the Ravens' sixth pick certainly won't come cheap, especially if it means moving back more than a few spots.

If they move back into that eight-to-10 range, will Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves or perhaps Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley still be on the board? Or would the Ravens be willing to move back into the teens, content with landing a pass rusher like Georgia's Leonard Floyd or Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, or a cornerback like Houston's William Jackson or Ohio State's Eli Apple?

"I love to trade back because I'd say 50 percent of the time, you're still going to get the same guy," DeCosta said. "Every team gets attached to different players. You think everybody is going to see the draft exactly how you see it. But that's not the case. It's often quite different. Everybody kind of sees the first round the same, but as you get into the other rounds, there's so much volatility in terms of players that you can trade back and get additional picks and then maybe still get the same guy.

"You're not going to trade away from a C.J. Mosley. If you have a chance to draft a C.J. Mosley, you're not going to do that, or Jamal Lewis, you're not going to trade away from a guy like that if you have a strong conviction that guy is going to be a Pro Bowl player. But if you have a chance to trade back, get additional picks and still maybe get the same player, it's a no brainer. "

DeCosta told the story of the 2010 draft. The Ravens were on the clock in the fourth round with the 114th overall pick, and a team, believed to be the Philadelphia Eagles, called them and offered their three later fourth-round picks for the Ravens' one.

The Ravens said, "No thanks," and wound up selecting tight end Dennis Pitta.

"Who would we draft? We wanted Dennis," DeCosta said. "There was nobody else in the round that year that we really, really wanted. We just kept him and it was the right thing to do because there's nobody else."

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