Baltimore Ravens Draft Stock Watch: 8 Players Rising and Falling Down Big Board
The Baltimore Ravens are one of the savviest drafting teams in the NFL, mostly because they do a good job of not getting caught up in the media buzz regarding draft prospects and stick to their own method of evaluation. But another key part of their process is having a fluid draft board that is always changing as they learn more about a prospect.
That’s the focus of this piece today: How is that draft board changing at the moment? These eight prospects have draft stocks that are fluctuating commodities right now, four trending down and four looking up.
Those changes are for a number of reasons. For some prospects, like Taylor Lewan, the changes are purely due to off-field concerns, while other prospects, like Brandin Cooks, keep opening scouts’ eyes with their on-field performance in workouts.
There are plenty of other players who are changing their positions in the mental big boards of teams around the league, but these eight prospects are players the Ravens figure to have interest in.
Note: All combine measurables are courtesy of NFL.com
Stock Down: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Taylor Lewan has only boosted his stock with his actions on the field, since he dominated the combine and put himself in the conversation with Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews as one of the best offensive tackles in this class.
On the field, Lewan has looked like a true blue-chip prospect, but his stock has dipped thanks to his shenanigans off the gridiron.
Lewan has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery from an incident that occurred on Dec. 1 according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com.
The incident isn’t a new story, and teams know about what happened (and asked about it during interviews at the combine), but the fact that he’s being charged doesn’t look good and will make teams think a little harder than they normally would about pulling the trigger on a player as talented as Lewan.
This especially applies to the Baltimore Ravens, who have had a troubling offseason with three players embroiled in legal issues.
The Ravens as an organization are known to place great value on a player's character, and head coach John Harbaugh had strong words about the off-field incidents from this offseason according to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com:
"You’re not a kid anymore and you’ve got responsibilities to not just yourself, but your family and your organization and your teammates and it’s unacceptable. It’s disappointing. I don’t care what your reason or excuse is for it."
Given what has already transpired this offseason, the Ravens would need to be convinced of Lewan’s character before adding him to their roster—especially with another talented and high-character tackle like Zack Martin available too.
Lewan will definitely still be a first-round pick and probably won’t be on the board when Baltimore is picking, but his stock has taken a slight hit with his name plastered all over the tabloids and Internet.
Stock Up: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Eric Ebron’s stock is going up as he has cemented himself as the best tight end prospect in the draft. He displayed his athleticism at the combine and looked very impressive at his pro day. According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Ebron looked “outstanding catching the ball” aside from a couple of drops.
The Tar Heel has helped himself, but his stock is also rising because of his lack of competition. All of the other top tight ends (e.g. Jace Amaro, Troy Niklas or Austin Seferian-Jenkins) haven’t proved they are worthy of a first-round pick. With a variety of concerns, all three are projected to go late in the first round at best.
As a result, Ebron is by far the most explosive and dynamic receiving threat at the position, and that scarcity increases his value. A team looking for the "move" tight ends that are in vogue right now may have to trade up to land the tantalizing prospect because the other tight ends in the draft don’t stack up to him.
Given how important the tight end is as a pass-catcher in Gary Kubiak’s offense, the Ravens could very well be tempted to take Ebron if he’s available at pick No. 17.
Stock Down: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Count this writer as one of the people who were firmly entrenched in Marqise Lee’s corner at the end of the college football season. His down year was the result of injuries, inconsistent quarterback play and coaching changes at USC. Turn the clock back to 2012, and you would see a receiver who could rival Sammy Watkins as the can’t-miss prospect at the receiver position in this draft.
But as this pre-draft process has played out, Lee is starting to tumble down draft boards. Part of that is due to the sheer depth and talent at the position. If you’re standing pat as a receiver in this draft, your stock is falling because the other receivers are standing out in workouts and improving their status.
That has certainly been the case for Lee, with players like Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks (whom we’ll get to in a second) thoroughly impressing scouts and forcing their way past Lee on many a big board.
But Lee has hurt himself in workouts. He ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the combine—a time far slower than anyone expected considering the eye-popping explosiveness he displayed at USC.
That hurt his stock a little, but scouts were waiting to see what he would run at his pro day. They were disappointed not by his time but by the fact that he didn’t even run. Rob Rang of CBS Sports reported that his decision not to run led some scouts to speculate that his injuries weren’t completely behind him.
It’s started to get so bad that B/R's own Matt Miller reported Lee was being singled out as one of the most overrated prospects in the draft.
With plenty of other receivers shooting up draft boards, Lee is one moving in the wrong direction.
Stock Up: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Of all the wide receivers helping their draft stock, nobody is doing a better job than Brandin Cooks. He had arguably the best combine of any player, dazzling with a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash and showing in drills that he was far more than just a speedster.
Cooks has removed any concerns teams would have had about his size, and he would be an intriguing fit in the Ravens receiving corps as a slot receiver with the potential to take the top off a defense.
The former Beaver has proved his chops as a route-runner and pass-catcher every step of the way, and he’s established himself as a definite first-round pick in May.
Stock Down: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
It’s been a roller-coaster pre-draft process for Cyrus Kouandjio—once regarded as one of the best left tackle prospects in the draft.
Chase Goodbread of NFL.com reports that there were conflicting reports about whether or not he failed his physical at the combine due to his knee.
Regardless of what actually happened, there is some concern about the state of Kouandjio’s knee, and he hasn’t done anything to quell those fears.
He ran a depressingly slow 5.59 40-yard dash at the combine, and he looked stiff and immobile in positional drills. Then, he didn’t participate at the Alabama pro day, although he will hold his own individual workout on April 8.
Kouandjio may ease any concerns at that individual workout, but for right now he’s scaring some teams away—especially the Ravens, who need mobility from their offensive linemen in Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme.
Stock Up: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Jimmie Ward has rapidly risen up draft boards after an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. On film, he is a tremendous coverage safety with plenty of range, but scouts were concerned with the level of competition he faced with Northern Illinois and whether he is a good enough athlete to be effective in the NFL.
He proved his athleticism at his pro day—he didn’t work out at the combine. Ward posted 40-yard times of 4.47 and 4.48 to go with a 38” vertical jump and a 10’5” broad jump according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
With the Ravens having a big hole at free safety, Ward looks to be a great fit and a tremendous bargain if they can draft him in the second round. The only problem for Baltimore might be that his stock is rising too high.
Stock Down: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
When discussing Eric Ebron, I touched on how the other tight ends in the draft haven’t helped themselves significantly. C.J. Fiedorowicz is one of those players.
The Iowa product had a solid combine, demonstrating his tremendous blocking ability and solid strength, size and speed.
But as a receiver, he’s been underwhelming. At his pro day, Gil Brandt of NFL.com could only say that “he is ok, but not great at catching the ball.”
The Ravens will prioritize blocking over receiving for their No. 2 tight end, but the fact that Fiedorowicz has looked limited as a receiver pushes him down Baltimore’s draft board, since his value as an overall prospect has decreased.
Stock Up: Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
The Ravens need to add another running back, but it’s unlikely that they select one until the last two rounds of the draft. That means that Andre Williams probably won’t be an option, but if Baltimore chooses to select a running back in the earlier rounds, Williams would be an intriguing fit, and his stock is soaring.
As a bigger back, his 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range is actually pretty good, and Gil Brandt of NFL.com reports that he unveiled improved receiving skills at his pro day:
Williams had a good workout, and most important for him, he showed dramatic improvement catching the football, with only two drops at his pro day. That’s something everyone will be checking on when they evaluate him, because if he does that he’ll have an excellent chance to advance in the draft.
With Rice as an excellent receiver out of the backfield, general manager Ozzie Newsome is sure to place more importance on running abilities when selecting a halfback, but Williams’ versatility will help him go off the board earlier.
Shehan Peiris is B/R's Lead Featured Columnist covering the Baltimore Ravens and a co-host of Ravens Central Radio, a weekly podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network that focuses on all things Ravens-related. For the latest Ravens news, draft analysis and links to episodes of Ravens Central Radio, follow me on Twitter:
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