Baltimore Ravens Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update
Draft day is upon us, and we are no closer to knowing what will happen than we were months ago. This is a draft with no elite players, a handful of top-10 talents and a glut of guys who could go anywhere from the first round to the fourth. That should play right into the Baltimore Ravens' hands at the bottom of the first round.
Making sense of this mess is difficult—if not impossible—on a league-wide scale, but we can take a look at each individual team and make some sense of its direction.
With that in mind, the Ravens draft board has become clearer over the past few months. They have needs at safety, receiver, defensive tackle and inside linebacker, but they are also in a good enough position that they don't need to reach based on need.
Realistically, the Ravens will probably grab a falling player at the end of the first round, someone who was once considered a top-tier prospect but has fallen to the back of the first for a variety of reasons.
Just as realistically, the Ravens should be able to take advantage of this class to get multiple players in the top 32 on their big board, thanks to the ridiculous depth in this draft.
So let's take a look at what to expect when the Ravens are at the podium. Here is a final big board that should give an idea of the Ravens' direction.
Ravens' Top 10
1. Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia
There is virtually no chance Tavon Austin makes it far enough in the draft to allow the Ravens to move up for him, but that doesn't mean the Ravens won't keep an eye on him. He'd be an ideal underneath receiver to complement Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.
2. Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
Lane Johnson has even less chance of being available than Austin, but again, the Ravens did their homework on him in case he is there, according to Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun. Right now, the Ravens do not have a competent left tackle on the roster, meaning Johnson would be an instant upgrade. He's worth a look, but getting him would be a major coup.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson
The Ravens are definitely looking for a receiver early, and DeAndre Hopkins might have even more upside than Austin. He's a big, smooth possession receiver who plays a lot like the departed Anquan Boldin. He would be a fantastic complement to Smith and Jones, while possessing the same ability to make acrobatic catches that Boldin had.
4. Tank Carradine, DE/OLB Florida State
Call this a hunch, but I think the Ravens are really high on Tank Carradine. He hasn't generated much first-round buzz, but Carradine has been a name mentioned a lot on the Ravens' website. Carradine is a bit of a one-year wonder, but he has a great motor that alleviates those concerns.
A pass rush consisting of Carradine, Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs could be scary.
5. Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia
Perhaps another guy who could be off the board before the Ravens' pick is Alec Ogletree, bit he would fill a big need at inside linebacker.
Though I'm not a fan of his, he would actually be a great fit in Baltimore. He is a sideline-to-sideline defender who struggles with getting off blocks, but the Ravens' newly improved defensive line should help him stay clean and make plays. He would also be an upgrade in coverage compared to the Ravens' other linebackers.
6. Matt Elam, S Florida
Safety is overblown as a need in my opinion, but Matt Elam would still be an upgrade in the Ravens' secondary. That's more of a reflection on Elam's skill than the Ravens' current talent. He's a spark plug of a defender who plays with a lot of fire and energy. He's got all the physical talent you look for, but he occasionally plays overaggressive and he lacks size.
He does fit the mold of what the Ravens like in a safety, and he'd be a great pick.
7. Margus Hunt, DE SMU
Hunt could be a big surprise if the Ravens elect to go this route. Margus Hunt doesn't really fill a need after the Chris Canty and Marcus Spears signings, but he is without question the kind of player the Ravens would covet.
Hunt is an elite athlete in terms of strength and speed, but he's not stiff in the hips like many other workout warriors have been in years past. Hunt actually has some polish to his game, and he plays with a lot of intensity.
He could play a number of positions for the Ravens and would definitely bring some athleticism to this defense.
8. Kevin Minter, ILB LSU
The Ravens have shown plenty of pre-draft interest in Kevin Minter, who is more likely to be available than Ogletree and could be a better fit anyway. Minter has perhaps the best nose for the ball of any linebacker in this draft, constantly finding ball-carriers in pursuit.
He is also better at getting of blocks than many of the linebackers in this draft. Minter might not be a big name, but he'd be a big-time player.
9. D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama
D.J. Fluker is another player the Ravens have expressed a lot of interest in, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, and he would fill a need at offensive tackle. The problem with Fluker is that he'll never have the footwork to be a left tackle, meaning that position would remain a need.
Fluker would, however, ensure that Kelechi Osemele could play on the inside at left guard, and he would also bring a mauling presence to the right side of the Ravens' offensive line that would pair well with Marshal Yanda.
10. Jamar Taylor, CB Boise State
I'd be surprised if the Ravens went cornerback early in the draft, but they definitely could stand to upgrade the position. Jamar Taylor is a rising talent. There is a lot to like about Taylor's abilities in coverage, and he would be a solid value at the end of the first round if he's there.
1. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
The Ravens won't be going quarterback early, but if by some miracle Ryan Nassib falls to the third day, they have to take him. Nassib is one of the smartest quarterbacks in this draft, and he's got good upside too. Nassib could be worth developing and eventually trading for a high draft pick.
2. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
E.J. Manuel isn't as pro-ready as Nassib, but he has even higher upside. Manuel has a rocket arm and great mobility. With some years to develop, Manuel could develop into something special, which the Ravens could eventually trade for a draft pick.
3. Mike Glennon, North Carolina State
Often compared to Joe Flacco, Mike Glennon has perhaps the strongest arm in this draft. He is immobile and raw, but Glennon is a pure upside pick who the Ravens could eventually trade.
4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Sensing a theme here? Bray is another rocket-armed, high-upside quarterback who the Ravens could develop and trade.
5. Matt Scott, Arizona
Matt Scott is the kind of backup the Ravens like, a change-of-pace quarterback with excellent mobility. In the past several years, they've had Troy Smith and Tyrod Taylor in backup roles. Scott has similar mobility but possibly more pure passing ability. He's worth a gamble late in the draft.
1. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Ray Rice has a clone, and his name is Giovani Bernard. An excellent receiver with elite quickness, Bernard has the same skill set as Rice, but perhaps with more athleticism. If available later in the draft, Bernard would be a great value pick.
2. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Maybe the most underrated back in this draft, Johnathan Franklin has all the tools a scout could look for in the back. He had excellent production at UCLA, and if he falls, he's worth a look.
3. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore would be an ideal selection for the Ravens at running back, giving them a player they could stash, develop and use down the road. If he falls because of his knee injury, the Ravens could pounce on him and turn him into a future stud.
4. Kyle Juszczyk (FB), Harvard
There aren't many running backs the Ravens should look at, but fullbacks could be of interest for them. The top one is Kyle Juszczyk, a mauler from Harvard. He'd be a stud on special teams while also giving the Ravens flexibility in dealing with Vonta Leach's expiring contract next offseason.
5. Zach Boren (FB), Ohio State
In the same vein as Juszczyk, Zach Boren is a big guy who could excel on special teams. He has flexibility to play fullback or linebacker, and he'd be a nice addition on either side of the ball.
1. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Tavon Austin makes another appearance, as he'd be one of the Ravens' ideal prospects. He's a Baltimore native with playmaking ability on underneath routes.
2. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins is a stud with the ball in the air with a similar skill set to Anquan Boldin. He's got decent size, great physicality and smooth route-running ability.
3. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
If the Ravens are looking for a No. 1 receiver, they could do worse than Justin Hunter, who may have the best blend of size and speed in the draft.
4. Keenan Allen, California
If the Ravens can look past the character issues, Keenan Allen would be a great selection in the second round. He's a big possession target, but he's recovering from injury and has had drug troubles in the past.
5. Chris Harper, Kansas State
The Ravens have shown tons of interest in Chris Harper, who is a little-known but talented big, physical receiver. Don't be shocked if they elect to ignore the position until grabbing Harper later in the draft, especially if the value isn't there early.
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert is without a doubt the best tight end in the draft. He's got ideal athleticism paired with solid blocking ability and elite hands. There is nothing not to like about Eifert as a prospect, and if he falls to the Ravens in the first round, he could actually be worth a look.
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
Eifert is great, no doubt, but Ertz isn't far behind. He was actually more productive in college, but he's not quite as athletic. Ertz is an excellent all-around prospect who is worth a look if he makes it to the end of the second round.
3. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
One of my favorite values in this draft is Travis Kelce, a guy who was excellent in college in all phases of the game. Kelce has a similar skill set to Ertz and Eifert, but faced a lower level of competition.
4. Dion Sims, Michigan State
If the Ravens don't see value at tight end early, they could go with a blocking tight end later in the draft. Dion Sims is a decent receiver and an excellent blocker who should go in the middle rounds of the draft.
5. Michael Williams, Alabama
Michael Williams is a similar blocker to Sims, but he lacks the athleticism to be anything more than a backup tight end. He'd be an upgrade over any of the Ravens' tight ends as a blocker, though.
1. Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
The rumor mill is churning regarding Lane Johnson, a guy that the Ravens really covet. Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens are considering moving up to grab the tackle if he falls within their range. Johnson looks like a long-term answer for a team at left tackle, with excellent footwork and a high ceiling.
2. D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama
Where Johnson is a pure athlete, D.J. Fluker is a pure mauler who lacks the footwork to play left tackle. He'd play on the right side, hopefully pushing Kelechi Osemele to left guard.
3. Menelik Watson, OT Florida State
Menelik Watson has comparable athletic ability to Johnson, but he lacks his polish. He played on the right side in college, but he has left-tackle ability. Watson would be a risk, but he could be one worth taking.
4. Justin Pugh, OT Syracuse
Another tackle of interest would be Justin Pugh from Syracuse. He was a good player in college, but his lack of size could be an issue in the pros.
5. Brennan Williams, OT North Carolina
Size is no issue for Brennan Williams, a mountain of a man who is also an excellent run-blocker.
1. Margus Hunt, DE SMU
The Ravens don't really need a defensive end, but Hunt is a special prospect with elite athleticism and good tape to back it up. He has a special burst, surprising pass-rush moves and elite strength. He still has a lot to learn, but he has elite potential.
2. Johnathan Hankins, NT/DE Ohio State
Johnathan Hankins just does not get pushed around. He is perhaps the best block-shedder among nose tackle prospects in this draft.
3. John Jenkins, NT Georgia
John Jenkins is a massive man. When he gets the right leverage, he can't be pushed around. What puts him above fellow nose tackle Jesse Williams is his burst and athleticism, as Jenkins won't be a liability on passing downs.
4. Jesse Williams, NT/DE Alabama
Jesse Williams has a better grasp of leverage than Jenkins, but he lacks the athletic upside of Jenkins and will be relegated to a two-down role in the NFL.
5. Brandon Williams, NT Missouri Southern
The most productive defensive tackle in this draft is actually Brandon Williams, who was a fearsome pass-rusher for Missouri Southern. The change in competition level will be severe, but the massive Williams has the physical ability to pull it off.
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Definitely the most upside at the position in the draft, but I have big concerns about Alec Ogletree's ability to get off blocks. He could be worth a shot in the first round, though.
2. Kevin Minter, LSU
Kevin Minter is probably the most polished linebacker in this draft, with excellent pursuit ability and consistent tackling. He has a nose for the ball but just average athleticism.
3. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Manti Te'o has big-play ability, but he was occasionally pushed around and needs to be protected by blockers.
4. Keith Pough, Howard
My favorite sleeper in this draft is Keith Pough, who plays like an even more aggressive Minter. He is excellent in pursuit and has leadership ability.
5. Jonathan Bostic, Florida
There isn't much difference between Bostic and the top linebackers in this draft, meaning he could actually be a better value. He's athletic enough to succeed in the NFL, and he gets off blocks pretty well.
1. Tank Carradine, Florida State
Tank Carradine is a guy the Ravens like a lot. He's among the better run-defenders at the position in the draft, but his first step is inconsistent. There is definite upside but some risk as well.
2. Brandon Jenkins, Florida State
I love Brandon Jenkins. If he comes back healthy, he is the owner of the best first step in the draft, and he also has a nice array of pass-rush moves.
3. Alex Okafor, Texas
Alex Okafor is a late-first-to-second-round prospect who would make some sense for the Ravens. He has natural pass-rush ability and a lot of college production.
4. Sio Moore, Connecticut
Sio Moore is a more natural linebacker than most edge-rushers in this draft, as he actually played standing up in college. He could also slide inside.
5. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
I'm not a fan of Damontre Moore, but I'm fully aware that he has a lot of natural talent that could be worth working with if he falls far enough. He was among the most productive players in the nation with a knack for getting to the quarterback.
1. Desmond Trufant, Washington
I didn't include Desmond Trufant on the Ravens' big board, since they wouldn't trade up very high for a cornerback. That having been said, Trufant has the most natural man-coverage ability in this draft. He has shut-down potential and is definitely worth a look if he gets close to the Ravens' pick.
2. Jamar Taylor, Boise State
A more likely first-round target is Jamar Taylor, who is riding a surge of momentum from a strong combine and Senior Bowl. He has ideal athleticism and quickness.
3. Darius Slay, Mississippi State
Though some teams will prefer teammate Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay would be a better fit with the Ravens thanks to his superior speed and quickness.
4. B.W. Webb, William and Mary
Every year, the Ravens seem to take a mid-round flyer on a small-school prospect, and B.W. Webb looks like the ideal target for this year's draft. He is a solid athlete who dominated against lesser competition.
5. Robert Alford, SE Louisiana
If the Ravens aren't high on Webb, they could try Robert Alford, who also dominated against lesser competition. Alford is probably a bit faster but has more durability concerns.
1. Matt Elam, Florida
Matt Elam would step in as an immediate long-term starter for the Ravens. His aggressiveness would be a great fit for the Ravens, but he also plays pretty smart.
2. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
One of the stars of the Senior Bowl was Jonathan Cyprien, who rode that momentum to being mentioned as a first-round possibility. The physical tools are all there, but his aggressive play might not translate immediately to the higher level of competition.
3. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Bacarri Rambo is the whole package, with good ball skills, athleticism and hitting ability. He plays out of control, though, so he will need some seasoning.
4. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
D.J. Swearinger might be too aggressive to be an immediate starter, but that mentality could become a real benefit with some seasoning.
5. Earl Wolff, NC State
Earl Wolff has turned strong performances in the East-West Shrine Game and the combine into a big rise up draft boards. He was extremely productive in college, especially against the run.