Baltimore Ravens: 3 Creative Moves Ozzie Newsome Should Make on Draft Day
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a disappointing 2013 season, but a good draft this year could help them rebound quickly in 2014. After winning the Super Bowl the previous year, Baltimore slipped to 8-8 and missed the playoffs in 2013.
General manager Ozzie Newsome will do his best to ensure that doesn't happen again in 2014. The Ravens have made it to the playoffs in six of the past eight seasons and nine times since 2000.
Baltimore doesn't stay down long, and Newsome ensures this by routinely making bold moves. This includes making bold, creative moves during the NFL draft.
In 2008, the Ravens traded out of the eighth overall selection to the 26th pick. Then they moved up again to the 18th pick to select Joe Flacco out of Delaware, an FCS school.
That's just one example of the kind of bold move Newsome will make to get the player he wants most in the draft. The following slideshow previews three creative moves Newsome and the Ravens' front office should make on draft day in order to satisfy each need they currently have.
(Note: This article is entirely speculative.)
Trade Down in 1st Round and Draft Calvin Pryor
Safety is the biggest need on the roster right now, but they need someone to play opposite Matt Elam at safety after James Ihedigbo signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are widely regarded as the two best safety prospects, but Pryor is projected to go later in the first round if the Ravens pass on him at No. 17.
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated has the Ravens taking safety Calvin Pryor out of Louisville in his latest mock draft:
The signing of Steve Smith reduces a need Baltimore has had for a long time, though Smith might be best at slot duty at this point in his career. What we do know is that the team wants to move 2013 first-rounder Matt Elam to strong safety, leaving it in the lurch when it comes to deep coverage.
Pryor, who I actually like a bit better than Clinton-Dix, is physical in the run game and can handle everything from slot duty to center field. He’s not quite as fast as Earl Thomas, but he plays with a similar disregard for his own body — and the bodies of his opponents.
The Ravens may be able to trade down in the first round and still nab Pryor while netting some extra draft picks.
Trade Down in the 1st Round for a Wide Receiver
The Ravens want to get more production from the receiver position in 2014, and lucky for them, this is a very deep WR class. Outside of Torrey Smith, no other receiver had more than 524 receiving yards in 2013. Ravens wideouts only caught 13 touchdowns, and 11 of them were between Smith and undrafted free agent Marlon Brown.
The Ravens did sign Steve Smith to a three-year deal after the Panthers cut him, but at age 34, his best days are behind him. Baltimore needs to get younger at the position, and there will be many WRs to choose from in this year's draft class.
ESPN Scouts Inc. analyst Kevin Weidl (subscription required) wrote how this is the deepest receiver class he's seen in eight years of evaluations. That should make it tempting for the Ravens to trade down in the first round to get a quality WR while accumulating more draft picks.
One scenario could be the Ravens trading with the New Orleans Saints to move down to pick No. 27. The Saints need a pass-rusher, and it may behoove them to move up to get someone like Missouri's Kony Ealy.
Meanwhile, the Ravens select USC WR Marqise Lee with the 27th pick and get a young speedster to make their offense more explosive. Over his three years at USC, Lee caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns.
He's the kind of playmaker the Ravens need to help improve an offense that ranked 29th in total yards and 25th in scoring in 2013.
Trade a 3rd-Round Pick for Evan Mathis
One way the Ravens can become a Super Bowl contender again is to improve an offensive line that failed in 2013.
The guard spot was particularly weak, but one of the NFL's best at that position is on the trade block.
Mathis is one of the best guards in football, as evidenced by his 46.7 grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the best of any NFL offensive lineman.
If the Ravens are able to acquire Mathis, it would significantly upgrade an offensive line that struggled mightily last year while allowing 48 sacks. That was tied with the Buffalo Bills for the fourth-most allowed in the NFL in 2013.
Why draft an offensive lineman who "might" make an impact this year, when they can get one of the best in the game right now?
Why not make one more trade that could make Baltimore's O-line one of the best in the AFC?