xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Ravens seven-round mock draft (Version 2.0): Grabbing an edge rusher and gambling on a center

With defensive end Justin Houston scheduled to visit Baltimore on Tuesday, the Ravens might not be done with free agency. The NFL draft, however, waits for no team.

After a month of moves, general manager Eric DeCosta and his front office still have pressing needs at edge rusher, wide receiver, interior offensive line and potentially right tackle. But the Ravens’ long-held philosophy of taking the best player available could lead to a first-round surprise April 29 and set the course for an interesting weekend at the Under Armour Performance Center.

Advertisement

With the help of Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator, here’s whom the Ravens could take with their six picks (and, to DeCosta’s dissatisfaction, no trades).

First round (No. 27 overall): Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh

The draft is more art than science, but sometimes the data becomes hard to ignore: While teams can find elite wide receivers on Day 2, the best pass rushers typically go on Day 1. Of PFF’s 10 highest-rated edge defenders last season, only one — the Detroit Lions’ Trey Flowers (fourth round) — was picked outside the top 34 overall.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Oweh is not the sure thing that, say, Chase Young or Joey Bosa was. In seven games last season, he didn’t have a single sack. But Oweh, who didn’t play football until his junior year of high school, is a one-percenter as an athlete. He ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and ranks in the 98th percentile among edge rushers in the three-cone drill, a sign of his elite agility. As a run defender, he’s reliable. In coverage, he can help. If Oweh improves his get-off and fine-tunes his pass-rush plan, he’ll be a nightmare for offenses.

Also considered: Florida WR Kadarius Toney, Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins, Tulsa ILB Zaven Collins.

Second round (No. 58): Alabama C Landon Dickerson

Dickerson has the biggest red flag of any interior lineman the Ravens might target early in the draft. Over five seasons at Florida State and Alabama, Dickerson suffered four season-ending injuries, including left ACL and right ACL tears, the last of which might limit his availability at training camp. That could be a nonstarter for the Ravens, who, in recent drafts, have almost always taken offensive and defensive linemen with near-perfect attendance.

Or maybe the Ravens see Dickerson as no more a gamble than any other early pick. Ozzie Newsome, a former Alabama legend, won’t have to beg for information down in Tuscaloosa. And in 2019, his successor, DeCosta, spent a first-round pick on Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who was just months removed from a Lisfranc (foot) injury that required surgery. Dickerson, a 6-5, 333-pound mauler with leadership ability and starting experience at guard, is a first-round talent who might not even make it to No. 27 overall.

Advertisement

Also considered: North Carolina WR Dyami Brown, Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace, Washington DB Elijah Molden.

Third round (No. 104): Indiana S Jamar Johnson

The Ravens bring back starting safeties Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott, but the 6-2, 205-pound Johnson is talented and versatile enough to play next to them in 2021 and supplant one in 2022. He had six interceptions in 20 games over his final two seasons — including two versus Ohio State star Justin Fields — despite not starting regularly until last year. According to PFF, Johnson allowed a passer rating of just 27.5 in coverage in 2020, breaking up four passes and not surrendering a touchdown.

While he started at free safety, Johnson moved around the Hoosiers defense with the kind of flexibility that Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale covets: 236 snaps as a deep safety, 124 as a box safety and 93 in the slot. Johnson struggled with his tackling at times, but he has the ability to hold up in zone or man coverage at the next level.

Also considered: BYU OT Brady Christensen, UCLA DL Osa Odighizuwa, Michigan WR Nico Collins.

Fourth round (No. 131): Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble

How many prospects can check the boxes that Tremble would in the Ravens’ tight end-friendly offense? In the running game, the 6-3, 241-pound Tremble is a high-effort, high-impact blocker. In the passing game, he has rare speed (4.59-second 40-yard dash) at the kind of “flex” position where the Ravens have deployed tight end Nick Boyle and fullback Patrick Ricard.

As a receiver, Tremble is far from polished. He caught 19 of his 28 targets for 218 yards last season and had five drops over his Fighting Irish career, according to PFF. But with tight end Mark Andrews a top candidate for a long-term extension, the Ravens don’t need another big-play target at the position. As Boyle recovers from a serious knee injury and Ricard enters the last year of his contract, Tremble offers value as both a potential Day 1 contributor and an insurance policy.

Also considered: Iowa WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Louisiana Tech DL Milton Williams, Illinois G Kendrick Green.

Fifth round (No. 171): Tennessee WR Josh Palmer

Wait this long to draft a wide receiver, and every player still on the board will have shortcomings. Palmer’s most glaring is his lack of production; he never had a 500-yard season in his three seasons with the Volunteers. His sophomore year was his most promising, with 484 yards, two touchdowns and a Southeastern Conference-leading 21 yards per reception.

The hope is that poor quarterback play obscured an enticing skill set. The 6-1, 210-pound Palmer has reliable hands, the speed and size to win deep, the ability to separate on cuts, and a competitive mindset. The Ravens ask their outside receivers to run a lot of vertical routes, and Palmer ran fades for touchdowns last season against Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, a first-round lock, and Georgia’s Tyson Campbell and DJ Daniel, both early- to mid-round prospects.

Also considered: Clemson WR Cornell Powell, East Carolina T D’Ante Smith, Syracuse CB Trill Williams

Fifth round (No. 184): East Carolina OT D’Ante Smith

If the Ravens trade right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. before the season, they’ll need to find his replacement in the draft, and ideally not in the fifth round. If they plan on keeping Brown, they’ll still need a developmental tackle, someone who could play in 2021 — left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s season-ending injury exposed the Ravens’ depth there last year — and be groomed for 2022.

The 6-5, 305-pound Smith is that kind of project prospect. He has the wingspan of a 7-footer, and also the lean frame that could keep him from ever having the power needed to survive in the NFL. With his mobility, Smith can glide into space and take on second-level defenders, but his lack of balance and play strength was evident in college.

Also considered: BYU DL Khyiris Tonga, Florida State EDGE Joshua Kaindoh, Notre Dame G Aaron Banks.

Sixth round (No. 210): Arkansas DL Jonathan Marshall

The Ravens need to get younger along the defensive line, but the return of tackle Brandon Williams and ends Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe buys them at least another year before a near-total rebuild. Justin Madubuike has star potential, but he’ll need support up front.

Advertisement

Marshall, who didn’t start until his redshirt senior season, might never develop into anything more than a rotational lineman. At 6-3, 310 pounds, he’s more explosive than he is strong. His effectiveness tended to wane in the second half of games. But his 29 pressures led all SEC interior defensive linemen, according to PFF, and he could be well served by moving from nose tackle to a three-technique spot, aligned over the outside shoulder of opposing guards.

Advertisement

Also considered: Penn State C Michal Menet, UAB WR Austin Watkins, Oklahoma RB Rhamondre Stevenson.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement