Ravens Should Pass on Mike Williams

Lombardi's Way Ravens Should Pass on Mike Williams

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John Ross Like a Boss!

Many Ravens fans, and even some local media members who double as fans, salivate at the thought of Clemson’s Mike Williams falling to the Ravens at No. 16. I’m not one of them.

Sure, Williams made some great contested catches in big games utilizing his size to high point jump balls and he has exhibited some toughness while navigating inside the hash marks. But does that make him worthy of the 16th overall pick?

In Williams, I see a guy who has a limited route tree. I see a guy who struggles to get separation – and that’s at the collegiate level. I wonder how that will translate with a quarterback in the form of Joe Flacco, who isn’t the most precise when delivering the ball and doesn’t have a knack for buying time in or out of the pocket to allow for receivers to break open.

Williams lacks breakaway speed and he isn’t very impressive after the catch. He averaged only 4 yards of YAC in 2016. Of the three receivers most often mentioned at the top of the draft (Corey Davis and John Ross being the others), Williams concerns me the most. He’s Plaxico Burress at his ceiling and perhaps his namesake, Mike Williams from USC (10th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft), at the bottom end.

I’d take my chances with Ross’ injuries before I’d risk the 16th pick on Williams.

The pick that I’d hate the most for the Ravens at No. 16, is offensive tackle/guard Cam Robinson. If he had been part of the 2016 NFL Draft, Robinson would not even attract looks in the first round. Just because this draft class lacks OT prospects, doesn’t mean that need should force undeserving players up the draft board. Robinson is a second-round pick and probably isn’t as good a player as Michael Oher.

Let that sink in for a moment…

The player I’d love to see fall to the Ravens is Temple’s Haason Riddick. The guy is pliable, not system dependent, and can make plays all over the field. He offers a defensive coordinator plenty of options and he’d be a perfect fit for a DC like Rex Ryan who understands how to get creative and utilize skill sets in unique ways. Unfortunately, the Ravens employ a DC who prefers a Crayola 8-pack over the 64-piece carton with a sharpener.

A Vote for McCaffrey

Earlier this week guest blogger Brian Lease expanded upon the virtues of Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey. He’s a versatile and unique athlete with an off-the-chart football IQ and he’ll immediately impact an NFL offense – certainly more so than any of the aforementioned wide receivers in the 2017 NFL Draft. If he’s on the board at 16, which is highly doubtful, McCaffrey will quickly become a Charm City Star!

And With The 16th Pick…

Ok, so I’ve shared the pick I’d hate for the Ravens, the one I’d love and another that would offer excitement. But what player will the Ravens land, assuming they stay put at No. 16? (Oh and by the way, I think a trade back is close to a 50-50 proposition)

At roughly 10:30 PM on Thursday, the Ravens will turn in a card that reads:

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan.

In Round 2 on Friday the pick will be:

Tim Williams, LB, Alabama

Ravens select Tim Williams

Parting Shots

Good teams are often in position to make “luxury picks” during the NFL Draft. They have fewer holes to fill than most teams and the composition of their roster heading into the draft is such that they could take the field without the draft, and still compete at a high level. Sadly, the Baltimore Ravens aren’t one of those teams – at least not this season.

And that’s why it’s unlikely to see the Ravens turn in the cards for Washington Huskies named Sidney Jones and John Ross.

Before his Achilles injury suffered during the University of Washington’s Pro Day, Jones was the consensus No. 1 corner in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s been described as Marcus Peters without the character flaws. Word is that Jones is recovering nicely and could be available to the team that selects him, towards the back end of the 2017 NFL schedule. But regrettably, it won’t be the Ravens. Their coaching staff can’t afford a red-shirt second-round pick and it’s unlikely that Jones will be available in Round 3.

Some winning team, enabled by their success, will make that pick with no remorse.

And then some day in the not too distant future we’ll ask rhetorically, “How did the Patriots end up with Sidney Jones?”

Fellow Husky John Ross finds himself in a similar situation to Jones. Rumors have spread that some teams have completely removed Ross from their draft boards due to medical concerns. But it’s hard not to be seduced by his electric style of play. His speed and suddenness can’t be taught and he could wreak havoc for opposing defensive coordinators. Ross will likely fall into the bottom third of Round 1 – perhaps he’ll even fall further. And if he does the Ravens should use their draft capital to move up and get him.

But they won’t.

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Remember when teams took Rob Gronkowski off their draft boards due to medical concerns back in 2010? Do you think the New England Patriots, despite Gronk’s trips to Injured Reserve, have any complaints about the returns on that investment?

Somewhere in the NFL, a team will be bold enough to pick Ross and/or Jones and they’ll deliver similar returns.

If only the Ravens were in position to be so bold.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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