The Baltimore Ravens are slated to select sixth overall in next month’s NFL Draft. They should come away with a top-tier prospect, a scenario that isn’t familiar to the Ravens in the Harbaugh era.
Even with five teams ahead of them, the Ravens will still have plenty of quality prospects to choose from if they stay put. An ideal scenario would be for at least one quarterback – perhaps Jared Goff or Carson Wentz – to be selected in the top five. That would afford the Ravens to have a larger available talent pool.
A high draft choice, however, does not guarantee a quality, franchise-changing pick.
Let’s take a look at some of those less-than-ideal prospects.
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jack is a popular choice due to Baltimore’s history of selecting the “best player of available.” The Ravens will certainly consider him, but he would not net the best return.
Jack is a (no pun intended) jack of all trades, master of none. He is an open-field, run-and-chase linebacker. He has some experience rushing off the edge, but at 6’1, 245 pounds with a small lower half, could he really be relied on to become a full-time edge rusher in the NFL?
If not a full-time edge rusher, where would he play in Baltimore’s defense? Would he be a nickel linebacker who occasionally goes after the quarterback? Is that really the best way to capitalize on the opportunity of having the sixth overall pick?
The Ravens need a guy who provides value off the edge on every down. They don’t need another solid inside linebacker to take the place of Daryl Smith. That is where Jack projects.
And that’s without getting into how his 2015 season-ending torn meniscus might affect him moving forward.
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Stanley is becoming a popular choice. He is widely considered the best tackle after Laremy Tunsil, the projected first overall pick. But being the top consolation prize to Tunsil does not necessarily make him the best option for Baltimore.
He has an impressive frame which coaches can use to mold him into the ideal NFL left tackle.
Could Stanley potentially shore up Baltimore’s left side for years? Sure, that possibility makes him an intriguing prospect. But the reality is that Eugene Monroe is still on the roster, and Stanley may not even enter the regular season as a starter. We can revisit the prospect of Stanley playing in purple and black in 2016 if/when Monroe is released, but until then, it’s hard to see the Ravens going down this road.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The only cornerback worthy of Baltimore’s consideration with the sixth pick is Hargreaves (Ramsey is more of a safety).
Alexander is considered the next in line to Hargreaves. If both are available for the Ravens, then Hargreaves should undoubtedly be the higher priority. Hargreaves is an elite athlete, whereas Alexander is more or less a “good” athlete by NFL standards:
That athleticism translate to better play-making ability. Alexander never recorded an interception in two seasons as a cornerback for Clemson, whereas Hargreaves was a playmaker who notched 10 interceptions in three seasons with the Gators. It’s a no-brainer.
If Hargreaves is gone when the Ravens are on the clock, then so be it. But Alexander shouldn’t be the choice. The Ravens would be better served looking elsewhere.