The NFL draft is finally here, and the Ravens could do just about anything — anything, of course, but take a quarterback in the first round.
With two first-round picks and glaring holes on offense and defense, the Ravens have the draft capital to move up, stand pat, or trade back Thursday and acquire still more selections. General manager Eric DeCosta wants 20 picks over the next two years, and he enters this draft with nine after trading away Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
History tells us that the Ravens will move around the board. But if they don’t? Baltimore Sun reporter Jonas Shaffer and editor C.J. Doon double-checked their toy stopwatches, consulted their made-up medical reports and got to work on their mock drafts. Using Pro Football Focus’ simulator in a no-trades-allowed environment, here’s whom they took.
Round 1, No. 27 overall
Shaffer: Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins
The trouble with the Ravens’ draft needs is that they’re all high-value positions. After quarterback, three of the NFL’s four highest-paying jobs are at edge rusher, wide receiver and offensive tackle. Skimp on worthwhile investment, and you might find a top-tier starter; Orlando Brown Jr., for one, was only a third-round pick. But the best way to find stars at the sport’s most valuable positions is to draft them before anyone else can.
Here in the first round, with so many needs, it makes sense to weigh a best-player-available strategy against the Ravens’ needs. The 6-foot-6, 317-pound Jenkins, an elite run blocker, is a cut above the other fringe first-round tackles like Cosmi and Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg. He’s more ready to contribute than Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, a promising but raw pass rusher. And having a second starting-level tackle is more important in Baltimore — for now, anyway — than Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman and whatever he might contribute in 2021.
Also considered: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman, Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh, Texas OT Samuel Cosmi
Doon: Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins
I’m a simple man. I see Jenkins on the board, I pick him. He’s a dominant run blocker and holds up well in pass protection, too, allowing only 11 pressures on 623 pass-blocking snaps over the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. The Ravens need someone who can step in immediately at right tackle after the Orlando Brown Jr. trade, and I’d be hesitant to wait much longer than the end of the first round to find a replacement, even if that means missing out on the draft’s top safety, a do-it-all linebacker and some talented receivers.
Also considered: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman, LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr., Tulsa LB Zaven Collins, TCU S Trevon Moehrig
Round 1, No. 31 overall
Shaffer: Washington edge rusher Joe Tryon
Even after opting out of the 2020 season, Tryon has slowly crept back up draft boards, settling at No. 33 overall in NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s rankings and No. 37 in ESPN analyst Todd McShay’s. It’s easy to see why: As a redshirt sophomore, he had eight sacks and 12 ½ tackles for loss, though PFF dinged his overall body of work in 2019.
Philosophically, Tryon’s a match for coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s defense. At 6-5, 259 pounds, he can set the edge. He can win with power or with speed. He beat Pac-12 tackles with inside moves and outside moves. He’s comfortable dropping into coverage. Tryon might not have Jaelan Phillips’ well-rounded game or Kwity Paye’s versatility, but he looks the part of a first-round pass rusher. Without a second-round pick, the Ravens have to address the position early.
Also considered: Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh, Florida WR Kadarius Toney, Alabama C Landon Dickerson
Doon: Penn State edge rusher Jayson Oweh
There’s no getting around the fact that Oweh failed to record a sack in 2020. But he was voted first-team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches for a reason, and he had one of the most incredible performances ever by a defensive prospect at his pro day. With wide receiver speed and 34 ½-inch arms attached to a 6-foot-5, 257-pound body, he’s a moldable piece of clay for defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale to deploy in all sorts of fun, unique ways. With Bateman and Marshall off the board, this felt like a no-brainer.
Also considered: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins, TCU S Trevon Moehrig, Alabama C Landon Dickerson, Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore
Round 3, No. 94 overall
Shaffer: Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes
In the second round last year, the Ravens, still needing a wide receiver, took a running back No. 55 overall. All J.K. Dobbins did was average 6 yards per carry and score nine touchdowns for the NFL’s best rushing attack. The 6-1, 194-pound Stokes is another obvious best-player-available pick. He’s considered a dark-horse first-round candidate, and his press coverage skill set fits the Ravens’ style of play. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are top-notch outside cornerbacks, but there’s little depth behind them.
Also considered: Boston College TE Hunter Long, Michigan WR Nico Collins, Indiana S Jamar Johnson
Doon: Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Milton Williams
With most of the top receivers off the board at this point, it’s time to address the defensive line. The “Monstars” — Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe — are still productive players, but none of those 30-plus-year-old veterans are under contract past this season. Justin Madubuike looks to be a budding star, but the Ravens need more youth up front. Milton Williams is an athletic marvel, showing off a 4.67-second 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical jump at 284 pounds at his pro day. He might be a bit undersized for the interior, but I trust he’ll be a productive player at the next level because of his strength and effort.
Also considered: Boston College TE Hunter Long, Auburn WR Seth Williams, Florida State DT Marvin Wilson
Round 3, No. 104 overall
Shaffer: Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins
If the Ravens don’t draft a wide receiver before Day 3, Lamar Jackson might start trending on Twitter again. Athletically, Collins is a dead ringer for Miles Boykin: big, well-built frame (6-4, 215 pounds); good speed (4.45-second 40-yard dash); and an impressive catch radius. (Not to mention, his struggles to separate on short and intermediate routes.) The hope is that, even after opting out of the 2020 season, Collins still has the potential to be an above-average possession receiver. One encouraging sign from 2019: He got more targets and was more efficient against zone coverage than even current Browns receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Also considered: Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble, Ohio State C Josh Meyers, Miami EDGE Quincy Roche
Doon: South Dakota State wide receiver Cade Johnson
Finally, a receiver! While I think it’s important for the Ravens to take some swings at finding another weapon for Lamar Jackson, I don’t think it’s the biggest need. (And depending on how you feel about Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Miles Boykin and last year’s rookies, it might not be a need at all.) Willie Snead IV played 476 snaps in the slot last season, according to PFF, and now he’s with the Raiders. Devin Duvernay and James Proche II might be ready to step into that role, but the Ravens could use some competition there. According to PFF, the 5-11, 184-pound Johnson was the highest-graded receiver in one-on-one drills during Senior Bowl practices working primarily from the slot.
Also considered: North Carolina LB Chazz Surratt, Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Duke EDGE Chris Rumph II
Round 4, No. 131 overall
Shaffer: Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks
After passing on an open-field mauler like Tremble in the third round, it’s time the Ravens find an interior run blocker. Bradley Bozeman’s viability as the Ravens’ starting center opens the door for someone like the 6-5, 325-pound Banks, who finished his college career with 31 straight starts, including 30 at left guard. With his ability to wash out defenders on down blocks and square up defenders at the second level, he’d be an ideal fit for the Ravens running game’s power schemes. Banks has an ideal build for a guard, and there’s still room for improvement technically.
Also considered: Illinois G Kendrick Green, Clemson WR Amari Rodgers, Virginia Tech S Divine Deablo
Doon: Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph
Joseph is ranked among the top 100 players on most big boards, so his availability here is doubtful. That said, he could fall because of his inconsistent play, penalties and off-the-field concerns (as a freshman at LSU in 2018, he was suspended for the team’s bowl game for violating team rules). He has ideal size (5-11, 197 pounds with 31-inch arms), plays with an edge and proved he’s capable of being a lockdown defender when he’s engaged. It’s a bit of a risky pick, but the Ravens could use some depth behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, especially if Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young can’t stay healthy.
Also considered: UCLA EDGE Osa Odighizuwa, Georgia S Richard LeCounte, LSU CB Kary Vincent Jr.
Round 4, No. 136 overall
Shaffer: USC defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu
The Ravens’ defensive line overhaul is coming, probably sooner than later, and the 6-2, 307 Tuipulotu would be a fine building block next to up-and-comer Justin Madubuike and veteran Derek Wolfe. He showed his run-stopping ability over his three years as a Trojans starter, mucking up lanes as a three-technique lineman (aligned over a guard’s outside shoulder) and as an undersized nose tackle. Tuipulotu emerged as a capable pass rusher last season, too, posting an impressive 11.3% win rate, according to PFF.
Also considered: BYU WR Dax Milne, Missouri S Tyree Gillespie, Ohio State EDGE Jonathon Cooper
Doon: Indiana safety Jamar Johnson
Johnson is another player that is often ranked among the top 100, so this would be great value if he slips to the end of the fourth round. While he isn’t the sure tackler the Ravens probably want from the position, his coverage skills are undeniable — he picked off seven passes and broke up six others on 406 career coverage snaps, according to PFF. An instinctive playmaker with good ball skills is what the Ravens need in the deep secondary.
Also considered: Virginia EDGE Charles Snowden, Clemson WR Amari Rodgers, Notre Dame G Aaron Banks
Round 5, No. 171 overall
Shaffer: Duke tight end Noah Gray
After Mark Andrews, the Ravens’ tight end situation is a barrel of question marks: When will Nick Boyle be back to his old self? Will any of the position’s young, unheralded players emerge? How secure is Eric Tomlinson’s roster spot? The 6-3, 240-pound Gray projects as a “move” tight end, not an in-line tight end, but if he gets open in Baltimore, that won’t matter much. Gray was a security blanket for Duke quarterbacks, leaving the school as its all-time leading receiver at tight end, and with just three drops on 107 catchable passes, according to PFF. If he can prove himself to be an even decent blocker, he’ll have an NFL future.
Also considered: Penn State EDGE Shaka Toney, East Carolina OT D’Ante Smith, South Carolina WR Shi Smith
Doon: Buffalo edge rusher Malcolm Koonce
There are plenty of intriguing edge rushers in the middle rounds, but I settled on Koonce because of his production. He recorded 79 pressures on 484 pass-rushing snaps, according to PFF, and had five sacks in six games in 2020. While he might not be able to hold up against the run at just 249 pounds, he can be a situational pass rusher in a 3-4 alignment and perhaps even drop into coverage because of his athleticism. The Ravens simply need depth at outside linebacker after the departures of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.
Also considered: Tennessee WR Josh Palmer, Grambling State G David Moore, Florida State EDGE Joshua Kaindoh
Round 5, No. 184 overall
Shaffer: Iowa edge rusher Chauncey Golston
Even if the Ravens get a deal done with free agent Justin Houston next month, DeCosta can’t come out of the draft with just one young edge rusher. The 6-5, 269-pound Golston won’t replace Yannick Ngakoue or Matthew Judon as a pass rusher, but he could have a Pernell McPhee-type career in Baltimore. He has an imposing wingspan — his arm length is in the 92nd percentile among edge rushers — giants hands and a revved-up motor. Golston doesn’t have the bend or quick-twitch athleticism to turn the corner, but he can set the edge on early downs and kick inside on third-and-longs, if needed.
Also considered: Pittsburgh EDGE Ronald Jones II, Missouri OT Larry Borom, South Carolina WR Shi Smith
Doon: Texas A&M defensive tackle Bobby Brown III
I’m skeptical a player of Brown’s caliber slips this far, so I’m happy to get him here. He won’t turn 21 until August, making him one of the youngest players in this draft. He might be a bit of a project because of his inconsistency, but his raw athleticism and power are worth the gamble. I envision him learning behind Campbell, Williams and Madubuike before being asked to take on a larger role next season.
Also considered: Texas Tech CB Zech McPhearson, Penn State EDGE Shaka Toney, Illinois G Kendrick Green
Round 6, No. 210 overall
Shaffer: Illinois State safety Christian Uphoff
If Texas Christian safety Trevon Moehrig is a first-round candidate for the Ravens, the 6-2, 209-pound Uphoff should be a late-round candidate as well. He has the athleticism to contribute on special teams and the potential to help out at safety, where the Ravens need some rejuvenation. Uphoff was denied a season last year after the Missouri Valley Conference postponed its 2020 fall campaign, but he was a versatile playmaker with good range. Graduating from the Football Championship Division level to the NFL will challenge his inconsistent tackling form and football IQ.
Also considered: Western Michigan OL Jaylon Moore, Penn State C Michael Menet, Notre Dame QB Ian Book
Doon: Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson
Another running back? Hear me out. If Gus Edwards continues to be one of the league’s most efficient runners, he might become too expensive for the Ravens when he hits unrestricted free agency next offseason. Plus, in a run-first offense, depth is key. Stevenson has rare movement skills for a 246-pound back and can flat out make people miss. He forced 36 missed tackles on just 101 rushing attempts this past season, though evaluators would like to see him run more aggressively with his big frame.
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Also considered: BYU DT Khyiris Tonga, Minnesota CB Benjamin St-Juste, Arkansas DT Jonathan Marshall