Baltimore Ravens Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
The 2014 NFL draft kicks off on Thursday, and the Baltimore Ravens pick 16th in the middle of the pack. They have eight picks this year—half of them compensatory—and a number of needs on both sides of the ball they need to address.
So who could the Ravens be looking at? What are their options in every round? Here is your complete Ravens draft primer for 2014. From a position-by-position big board to round-by-round options for every pick and the latest rumors, here's everything you need to get ready for the Ravens' big weekend ahead.
List of 2014 Draft Picks
The Ravens have eight picks in the 2014 NFL draft. Here's where they land in each round:
Position-by-Position Big Board
Here are players at every position the Ravens could be interested in this year:
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Brett Smith, Wyoming
Jeremy Hill, LSU
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Lorenzo Taliaferra, Coastal Carolina
James White, Wisconsin
Allen Robinson, Penn State
Marqise Lee, USC
Jarvis Landry, LSU
Cody Latimer, Indiana
Mike Davis, Texas
Eric Ebron, North Carolina
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Jorda Najvar, Baylor
OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
OT Joel Bitonio, Nevada
C Travis Swanson, Arkansas
G Chris Watt, Notre Dame
DE/DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Miami
DT Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech
DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State
DE/DT Brett Urban, Virginia
OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville
OLB Cassius Marsh, UCLA
ILB Max Bullough, Michigan State
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin
Terrence Brooks, Florida State
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Keith McGill, Utah
Phillip Gaines, Rice
Walt Aikens, Liberty
Round 1, Pick 17
Team Needs: S, OL, WR
Unless the Ravens are confident that Kelechi Osemele can transition from guard to right tackle this year, they'll need to fill the spot left by free-agent tackle Michael Oher. They also need to expand their receiving corps to add a playmaker who can take over for veteran Steve Smith when his time in Baltimore is up.
There's also the matter of free safety now that it looks like Matt Elam will be moving to strong safety now that James Ihedigbo is gone.
The Ravens therefore have a lot of positions to choose from with their first-round selection—if they don't trade down.
At receiver, the Ravens could go after USC's Marqise Lee or Allen Robinson, especially if they don't think either will be available in the second round. Lee had an injury-marred 2013 season that saw him catch only 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns. However, he could rebound to his 2012 form (118 receptions, 1,721 yards, 14 scores) once he gets the hang of the NFL's speed.
Robinson is more of a possession-style receiver, though he does have the size, hands and route running to make him a No. 1 wideout in Baltimore. He had 97 catches for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns in 2013.
At safety, the Ravens may not be able to pass up Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix if he's still on the board when they pick at 17. Clinton-Dix is the consensus top safety prospect in this year's draft class. He had 50 tackles in 2013 as well as two interceptions and four pass breakups. He works just as well against tight ends as against speedy receivers and possesses prototypical quickness and size.
The Ravens could also address offensive line in Round 1, especially if tackles like Texas A&M's Jake Matthews or Notre Dame's Zack Martin are available. Baltimore did not run the ball well in 2013, nor did they protect quarterback Joe Flacco as well as in the past. They need upgrades on the line, and Matthews or Martin could be too good to pass up.
Round 2, Pick 16 (48th Overall)
Team Needs: OL, WR, S
In a draft that is quite deep at the receiver position, it's possible that the Ravens can push the position back to a middle round and still find someone who can make a real impact. However, the same cannot be said for offensive tackle, so if the Ravens have the position high on their priority list, they'll need to draft one in the first two rounds.
The Zack Martins and Jake Matthews of Round 1 will be long gone to other teams by now, but the Ravens can still find quality tackle talent in Round 2, namely Morgan Moses of Virginia and Joel Bitonio of Nevada. Both Bitonio and Moses could play guard in the NFL, but they could also stay at tackle. Both players' versatility would be welcomed by Baltimore.
There's also the possibility that the Ravens snag Marqise Lee or Allen Robinson in Round 2; Robinson seems the more likely receiver to be available in the middle of the round.
Should Baltimore have opted for an offensive tackle in Round 1, this would also be a good time to get a free safety, like Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward. Ward is slightly undersized at 5'11", but he more than makes up for it with picture-perfect tackling and good speed. He had 95 tackles in 2013, along with seven interceptions and 10 pass breakups.
Round 3, Pick 15 (79th Overall)
Team Needs: WR, TE, DL
The Ravens need a receiver, but they could actually leave the position until Round 3, especially with their needs at both safety and offensive line. Two options in the middle of the round are LSU's Jarvis Landry and Indiana's Cody Latimer.
Landry and Latimer would have the added benefit of having a developmental year in Baltimore working behind Steve Smith and Torrey Smith. Both are very physical receivers, with Latimer checking in at 6'2", while Landry is 5'11". Latimer caught 72 passes for 1,096 yards and nine scores in 2013, while Landry had 77 catches for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Baltimore could also start thinking about adding a tight end. While the team signed free agent Owen Daniels, Daniels is not a long-term partner for Dennis Pitta. Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz could be in play for the team with its first of two third-round picks.
Fiedorowicz is primarily a blocker, but at 6'5", he's also a valuable red-zone target. He had 30 receptions for 299 yards and six scores last year. The Ravens could also have some interest in the 6'6" Troy Niklas from Notre Dame. Like Fiedorowicz, he is a blocking tight end first, but he did have 32 receptions for 498 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
Round 3, Pick 33 (97th Overall, Compensatory)
Team Needs: TE, DL, OL
Should the Ravens take Cody Latimer or Jarvis Landry with their first of two Round 3 picks, then tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz or Troy Niklas could be the selection later in the round. Otherwise, the Ravens could opt to add to their defensive line, which is currently just six players deep.
Two options are Virginia defensive end Brent Urban and Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. Jones, who had 53 tackles in 2013, including 11.5 for a loss, and three sacks, could be a candidate to replace nose tackle Haloti Ngata if he moves on in free agency in 2015.
Urban played defensive tackle at Virginia but seems best suited to play defensive end in a 3-4 system. He had 40 tackles last year, including 12.5 for a loss, one sack and nine batted passes. He could be the eventual heir to Chris Canty's job. At the very least, either Urban or Jones would provide the Ravens with much-needed depth to the defensive line.
Round 4, Pick 34 (134th Overall, Compensatory)
Team Needs: DL, OL, LB
Round 4 could also be a good source of defensive line depth for the Ravens. Beyond Brent Urban and DaQuan Jones, West Virginia's Will Clarke could be a good option for the team.
Urban has shown steady improvement each of his collegiate seasons, culminating with a 2013 that saw him rack up 49 tackles, including 17 for a loss, as well as six sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He'd be a good defensive end candidate for the Ravens.
The Ravens also need to build up their offensive line depth. At guard, Notre Dame's Chris Watt is an option. Watt is a better run-blocker than pass-protector and isn't the speediest lineman, but he has the tools to develop into an eventual starter.
Baltimore could also consider adding a center in Round 4 to provide insurance behind Jeremy Zuttah and Gino Gradkowski. Arkansas' Travis Swanson had a good year, rounded out with strong showings at both the Senior Bowl and scouting combine. He has the strength and requisite mean streak to stand out enough to the Ravens in Round 4.
Round 4, Pick 38 (138th Overall, Compensatory)
Team Needs: OL, LB, RB
With defensive line likely squared away by now, the Ravens can look to add more offensive line depth. We already covered Chris Watt and Travis Swanson—two players still potentially on the board for the team with their second of two fourth-round compensatory picks—but there are other linemen who could also draw their attention.
At guard, Alabama's Anthony Steen could be a good addition. Like most guards, especially those in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, his specialty is run blocking. However, the Crimson Tide's use of zone blocking means he could be of use to zone-blocking guru and current Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
At tackle, the Ravens could be interested in Michigan's Michael Schofield. The Ravens seem to prize guard-capable tackles (or vice versa), which is exactly what Schofield is—he played both right tackle and left guard in college, though the former is his greatest strength. Though not a candidate to be a rookie starter, his versatility makes him a useful depth addition.
The Ravens could also add to their stable of pass-rushers with UCLA's Cassius Marsh. Marsh had 55 tackles in 2013, including 8.5 for a loss, and six sacks. Strong and quick, Marsh could be the next of the Ravens' high-pressure outside linebackers.
Round 5, Pick 35 (175th Overall, Compensatory)
Team Needs: CB, RB
The Ravens are fairly thin at cornerback, which means they could decide to use an earlier pick on the position. However, corner is a deep class in the draft, so they could find someone late in Round 5 who could eventually be on the field.
Two options are Liberty's Walt Aikens and Rice's Phillip Gaines. Aikens is a very athletic and fast cornerback who more than held his own at the Senior Bowl despite his small-school pedigree. He had 62 tackles in 2013, along with three interceptions.
Gaines is also a speedy athlete, though not as strong as Aikens or as solid a tackler. Less reliable against the run, he doesn't have as much immediate upside as a special teams player. He had 30 tackles in 2013 as well as four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He is a strong press corner, however. Developmental time should do wonders for his technique.
The Ravens are also short-handed at running back, especially with Bernard Pierce coming off shoulder surgery and Ray Rice facing a potential suspension stemming from his recent assault charges. Because the position has become so devalued, they could find a steal or two later in the draft.
Wisconsin's James White has the type of all-around skills that could allow him to fill in for Rice if needed. He had 221 carries for 1,444 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. He also caught 39 passes for 300 yards and two scores. He's a good pass protector too, picking up blitzes without problem.
Another option is Coastal Carolina's Lorenzo Taliaferra. Taliaferra had 1,729 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns in 2013 and caught 23 passes for 153 yards and two more scores. He has both speed and power as well as impressive size at 6'0". He may need some work on his blocking, but he could certainly be an effective back as a rookie.
Round 6, Pick 18 (194th Overall)
Team Needs: RB
If the Ravens don't address the running back position in an earlier round, it's almost certain they'll take a close look at their options with their final pick of the draft in Round 6.
Aside from the aforementioned James White and Lorenzo Taliaferra, there are other players who could be fruitful contributors in Baltimore. Stanford's Tyler Gaffney is a strong, physical back who could complement Rice. Gaffney had 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns on 330 carries in 2013, and he caught 15 passes for 86 yards and a score.
If the Ravens are going back to throwing to the running backs often, then Arizona State's Marion Grice could be of interest. He had 996 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns in 2013, but he was really impressive as a safety-net receiver. He caught 50 passes for 438 yards and six scores.
Should the Ravens want a bit of speed, then Damien Williams from Oklahoma could be of interest. Though he had only 114 carries in 2013, they netted him 553 yards—a 4.9 yards-per-carry average—and seven scores. He also caught nine passes for 90 yards. He's very fast, running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Blocking, however, is not one of his strengths.
Latest Draft Buzz
Here are the latest draft rumors surrounding the Ravens as the predraft period enters its final day:
- Pro Football Talk has a detailed list of all the prospects the Ravens have met with and/or worked out heading into the draft. Notable names include Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.
- Here is a roundup of all of Sports Illustrated's mock draft picks for the Ravens. Most recently, fans had them taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, while Chris Burke gave the team Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan in his Twitter mock draft with Doug Farrar.
- Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun says that "the Ravens are exploring the possibility of drafting a quarterback this year."
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun notes that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome does not plan on trying to trade up, citing a lack of "ammunition" to do so.
- Bo Smolka of CSN Baltimore reports on NFL Network expert Mike Mayock's prediction that the Ravens trade down in Round 1.
- NFL.com's Chase Goodbread reports that Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley has received a lot of predraft attention from the Ravens.