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Mike Preston: Ravens shouldn't mortgage the future by trading picks

It is the game inside the game the Ravens have to play every year at draft time.

Should they trade up to possibly get a big time playmaker or trade down to gain more picks in what experts say is a draft loaded with depth?

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The guess here is that the Ravens will stay with their No. 16 overall selection in the first round. It is the most sound and logical decision. Their roster is void of big time playmakers, but this isn't the time to mortgage the future by going after one star player.

The Ravens need to find five starters. Regardless of the mixed signals they are sending, they should stay status quo.

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"I think we have to be prepared to pick at [No.] 16 and pick at [Nos.] 47 and 74 and 78," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. "We have to be prepared for that. But, as we will start to move forward on the day of the draft, we will have a plan that if we move back five spots, who do we have a chance to get? [Or] if we go back 10 spots?"

"And the other thing that we found out last year is there may be an opportunity to move up to go and grab a player and give up one of our resources because we feel like we can take some of the other picks we have and move back and gain what we gave up. So, I think we'll be open, but first and foremost we've got to be ready to pick at [No.] 16," he said.

It sounds good and it is the same basic stuff you hear from all general managers this time of year. But once you analyze this draft, there aren't a lot of marquee players and certainly any franchise-caliber quarterbacks like a Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck.

If the Ravens were one player away then maybe they could trade up and give away one of their seven total picks. But to move up too far might cost the Ravens a second- or third-round pick.

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Ravens officials frequently call the draft the “lifeblood” of their organization and they put a tremendous amount of time and resources in preparing for it.

They can't afford that. Now, if they could move up two or three spots in the first round and surrender a fourth-round pick, they might do the deal.

"It is always daunting. You feel the pressure," said Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. "We want to find good players. It is a strange thing, but if you are picking at 30, then you only really like 15 guys. If you are picking at 16, you might really only like eight guys. It is just the way that your mind works. We really want to get a specific level of player on the board if we can. A lot of times it doesn't happen. Sometimes it does."

"The year that we got C.J. [Mosley], we were very lucky to get him based on what our grades were," said DeCosta. "That is what you want. Some years you have 16 players and you are picking 16 and you might get your 16th guy. Other years, you are picking 16 and you might get your seventh guy. It is always a challenge."

The Ravens have a need at right offensive tackle, center, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and wide receiver. Based on most mock drafts, the Ravens will get a quality player at No. 16 like Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, Washington receiver John Ross, Missouri defensive end Charles Harris or possibly Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams.

According to DeCosta, there are four or five pass rushers who could be taken in the first round and as many as 10 selected in the first three. If these scenarios are realistic, then why would the Ravens want to trade up or down?

There is a certain part of me that would prefer the Ravens to think outside the box and make a big splash. It would be great to add a player like Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett or Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, but not at the risk of setting the Ravens back a couple of years.

As he prepares to lead his 22nd draft with the Ravens, general manager Ozzie Newsome is leaning on a philoso

The Ravens are boring on offense. They lack playmakers on both sides of the ball and haven't been to the playoffs in three of the last four years, but they aren't that far away from the postseason.

Remember, this is the NFL. It breeds and promotes being mediocre. Maybe the Ravens can get a few young players on the current roster to step up like outside linebacker Kamalei Correa or defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and then maybe select a couple of rookies who can make an impact.

The Ravens don't need to be brash in this year's draft, just sound, and that means not straying too far off course.

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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