Tue, 29 Sep 2020

Mailbag: Which Under-the-Radar Position Could Ravens Draft For

Baltimore Ravens
09 Apr 2020, 05:25 GMT+10

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The NFL Draft is just about two weeks away, and we're playing out all the scenarios.

Here are the latest questions for the written version of #RavensMailbag. Make sure to submit your questions every week!

Mink: I assume you're talking about the first round, so I'll just roll with that. Obviously, the most likely positions would be inside linebacker, EDGE rusher, defensive lineman, wide receiver and interior offensive line. Any of those would make a lot of sense, and with five on the list, I'd be very surprised if the Ravens don't cross off one.

Now to your question. The most likely not likely option (see what I did there?) would be running back because the Ravens run the ball A LOT and Mark Ingram II will turn 31 this season. If the value was right for Baltimore to add a potential long-term stud, such as Georgia's D'Andre Swift, I could see them pulling the trigger. The real dark horse would be a safety, such as Alabama's Xavier McKinney or LSU's Grant Delpit. We all know the Ravens place a high value on having a strong secondary and Wink Martindale would find a way to utilize everyone. Earl Thomas, who will turn 31 in a month, and Ingram are still playing at a very high level (they both went to the Pro Bowl last year), but if we're talking about long-term building while bolstering key positions to help immediately, those spots could fit.

Downing: If only one of them is still available once the draft gets into the 20s, it wouldn't surprise me if General Manager Eric DeCosta picked up the phone to see what it could cost to move up a few spots. The Ravens have ammunition with nine picks, so this could be a year they decide to move up in the first round. But the Ravens also like the linebacker options available in the middle rounds, so they won't be desperate to move up for Queen or Murray. The Ravens would likely be thrilled to walk out of draft weekend with a plug-and-play inside linebacker, but they'd still only make that move if the price is right. If I were putting percentages on this, I'd give it about a 30 percent chance that the Ravens trade up for Queen or Murray in the first round.

Mink: I've been looking into this lately because the more something feels like it's going to happen (that Baltimore will pick Queen or Murray), the more my gut tells me it won't. Two mid-round options that stand out are Ohio State's Malik Harrison and Texas Tech's Jordyn Brooks. Both are downhill run-stoppers that likely won't be immediate three-down linebackers because of coverage limitations, but that's just fine in a defense that mixes and matches personnel so much and often used just one inside linebacker in passing situations anyway. Either player could step in and help fill the void left by Josh Bynes' free-agent departure to Cincinnati.

Downing: The inside linebackers - Queen and Murray - still excite me the most from this list. I probably put Queen a touch over Murray because of his speed and athletic ability in coverage, but Murray is still a great athlete who comes with incredible leadership intangibles. Murray's former Oklahoma teammate Mark Andrews compared his leadership approach to Ray Lewis. Either of these players would be immediate starters and put up huge tackle numbers. I'm a big fan of Ruiz and he'd help fill the hole left behind by Marshal Yanda, but the Ravens might have a shot at him in the second round rather than at No. 28.

Mink: At this point, I don't expect either of those moves to happen any time soon. It seems Matthew Judon is going to play under the franchise tag this season. The Ravens surely explored a long-term deal with his agent, but the two sides clearly didn't get close enough. Baltimore could free up some space in 2020 if it reached a long-term deal with Stanley since he's set to count nearly $13 million against the cap, per Spotrac. However, with what would be a very high average salary and signing bonus, it's not like the Ravens could shave a ton off his number. Plus, who would they be looking to spend that money on? Don't say Jadeveon Clowney.

Downing: Humphrey has a huge payday in his future. The only question is when. He technically still has two years left on his deal because of the fifth-year option, so a new contract may not come until after the 2021 season. DeCosta said at the combine that he's already started preliminary talks with Humphrey's agent about an extension, so it's clear the Ravens want to lock him up long-term. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2019 and established himself as one of the game's shutdown corners, so if he continues on that trajectory, he'd certainly become one of the game's highest paid cornerbacks. He could be looking at a deal around $20 million annually depending on when he ultimately signs an extension.

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