Round 1 Delivers Unexpected Hurdles
Before each NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens try to shape their roster in a way that allows them to take the best player available (“BPA”) when they are on the clock. In other words, they are ready to take the field with the roster they already have prior to making their first pick. Each pick is potentially an addition – another step towards improvement.
They don’t want their draft picks influenced by need.
That didn’t happen last night with the selection of Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.
This isn’t meant to be a knock on Stanley. He will be a fine pro and with improved strength and conditioning there’s reason to believe that he will play at a Pro Bowl level. He’s smooth and he fits the zone-blocking scheme that the Ravens employ. But they failed to get better after Round 1.
Some may argue that the Ravens did pick the BPA when they turned in the card for Stanley. Ozzie Newsome following the pick of the Golden Domer said, “We value the board. When we got to that pick, we got the highest graded guy that was there.”
There’s no reason to doubt Ozzie. But the reason Stanley was the highest rated player is tied directly the uncertainties of other prospects beginning with Myles Jack’s knee. Otherwise the Bruin would dress in purple this season.
And then of course there’s Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil who would have been higher on the Ravens board if he weren’t “higher”.
During the post-pick presser Ozzie didn’t deny that the now infamous bong video starring Tunsil, played a role in the decision. But so did Eugene Monroe. The Ravens can’t wait to clear Monroe medically so that they can send him packing and clear $2.1M in cap space.
When asked about Monroe during the same presser Ozzie said, “Eugene is still under medical care.”
Go ahead, read between the lines.
The net effect of the Stanley pick is that the Ravens will remove an underachieving Monroe and replace him with a rookie – one responsible for protecting Joe Flacco’s blindside. That’s a daunting task for a first-year tackle.
Maybe it’s a slight gain – maybe it’s a slight loss, relatively speaking, particularly when you consider the gains that the Ravens AFC North rivals made on Day 1.
In the team’s defense, they were in a tough spot and things didn’t go well for them from jump street. The Chargers pulled a mild surprise when they selected Joey Bosa, a player coveted by the Cowboys. At that point the Ravens tried to jump ahead of the Jaguars at No. 5 to acquire the Cowboys 4th overall pick to select Jalen Ramsey.
The Cowboys wanted Ezekiel Elliott but they backed away from the Ravens overtures, worried that the Jaguars might then deal the 5th overall pick to a team pursuing Elliott.
When Jerry Jones passed and he picked the only player wearing a midriff, the trade-ability of the Ravens No. 6 pick dropped. Jack’s knee made the 6th pick even less enticing and then there was Tunsil’s video which stirred up all of the character concerns stored in the Ole Miss Rebel’s dirty baggage.
Rumors of multiple cocaine transgressions and connectivity to Robert Nkemdiche’s synthetic marijuana induced attempts to fly (out of windows), came boiling to the surface again. It was as if each NFL GM was flicked in the forehead as a reminder to run from this Rebel.
Maybe the Tunsil video was taken a few years ago. But Tunsil did enable it with his enthusiastic participation and given its existence, his widely reported domestic issues with his stepfather, the hacking of his Twitter account and then later admitting that he took money from supporters of the Ole Miss football program, it amounts to a potential recipe for disaster.
This guy might be a tool but he’s hardly the sharpest tool in the shed.
[Note: Watch below as the PR rep whisks Tunsil away before his foot is fully immersed in his esophagus.]
Add it all up and you can see the Ravens were really painted into a corner. Word is they liked DeForest Buckner but need, given the weed-advocating Monroe’s lack of accountability, elevated Stanley over the disruptive Duck.
Looking ahead to Day 2, the Ravens will land a nice player who should help them get to the quarterback or defend the back end. Who knows, maybe they’ll even make a play for Myles Jack and willingly assume his potential injury risks in the second round. After all, the Ravens seldom keep their second-round picks beyond their first contract anyway (see Messrs. Kruger, Kindle, Osemele, Smith). When they have (Ray Rice) it didn’t work out so well, even before that infamous elevator.
So if the concern about Jack is not being able to get to the second contract, well, that’s a situation the Ravens are used to with second-rounders.
The guess here is that the Ravens will not take a flyer on Jack because there are uncertainties with the talented linebacker – uncertainties that are less risky for teams like the Browns, 49ers or Titans who have several picks remaining.
The Ravens need to get better this season and it starts with the next pick because the first, thanks to Eugene Monroe, didn’t improve John Harbaugh’s 2016 squad all that much.
If at all…