The Ravens draft seems to be drawing a lukewarm response from fans and media alike, especially first-round pick Marlon Humphrey. The selection caught everyone off guard, including Humphrey himself, who admitted he wasn’t even really paying attention during the Ravens pick. After no pre-draft visit here, he had no expectation of heading to Baltimore.
One common theme that seems to be resonating among those who were underwhelmed by the pick is that the Ravens again ignored the need to add a playmaker. The Ravens need a difference-maker, someone who can catch the game-winning pass from Joe Flacco in the final minutes or extend a drive on a big third-down play. It’s a fair argument and the Ravens are taking a serious gamble by relying on Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace as their top two pass-catchers. Adding targets for Flacco was supposed to be a top offseason priority and up to this point, whether intentional or not, it’s been ignored.
Ozzie Newsome took an Alabama guy, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise but some fans think he took the wrong Crimson Tide player. With O.J. Howard still on the board and the Ravens’ need for playmakers, some think he would have been the smarter pick.
Count me among those who strongly disagree.
When you look at the current state of the Ravens roster, the word logjam would be a gross understatement in describing the tight end group. They are currently led by Dennis Pitta, who will be on the team in 2017 after taking another pay cut. While he clearly lost a step, he serves as a security blanket for Flacco and their chemistry on the field is undeniable.
The Ravens in recent years have invested early picks in Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore. Gillmore has shown flashes of potential but health issues have plagued him the last two seasons. Williams to this point has been a disappointment, but it’s too early to label him a bust.
(Remember when fans applied that label to Jimmy Smith after two seasons?)
The Ravens need to give him a chance to make an impact. Had they added Howard, Williams would have quickly been buried on the depth chart and would have essentially been a wasted second-round pick. Ben Watson is still on the roster and his future with the team likely hinges on how he looks this preseason. Darren Waller made the transition from wide receiver last offseason and showed some promise as well.
While some would argue that none of that group are as talented or capable as Howard, it’s an irrelevant point given the current state of the roster. Newsome has always said that that you can’t have enough good corners. With the way the Ravens defense wilted down the stretch of the last two seasons, mainly because of injuries and a lack of depth in their secondary, he’s clearly taking that approach to a new level before the beginning of the 2017 season.
Even after the addition of Brandon Carr, another talented corner was by no means overkill. Positions of depth can quickly become thin in the NFL. The Ravens don’t want to run the risk of scouring the waiver wire for corners in the final stretch of the season and considering their recent struggles in that department, who can blame them?
The way top teams like the Patriots, Steelers and Falcons attack opposing defenses, you truly cannot have enough good corners.
Other fans wanted that draft pick to address another thin position, WR. Mike Williams, Corey Davis or John Ross certainly would have been solid additions to the wide receiver group. Fans would have loved the pick because of the Ravens’ seemingly constant lack of a true number one receiver.
However, the board didn’t shake out that way and the early run on receivers didn’t provide them with the option.
Because of that, choosing a pass-catcher in round one wasn’t an option.
Howard may have warranted a top ten pick, and he was a steal for the Bucs at 19. With their current depth at the position, though, and their current laundry list of other needs, Howard wouldn’t have been a wise pick for Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta.