A Ravens Draft Day Preview

Taylor Lewan Blood

The 2014 NFL draft is less than a week away, and compared to recent years, the upcoming draft may be the most important for the Baltimore Ravens during the Harbaugh Era.

Entering the draft with their highest pick since 2008 (started 8th overall before selecting Joe Flacco with the 18th overall pick), Baltimore’s 17th overall pick in the draft adds intrigue to what is often a late first round pick that the team holds.

With a higher pick comes a higher chance of landing an instant impact player and potential long-term starter. Sitting right in the middle of the first round leaves Baltimore just out of reach of some of the draft’s premier prospects, but still high enough to take advantage of the second tier of players available.

The front office offered a preview of what could unfold next Thursday night during the annual draft luncheon on Wednesday

Nothing more than the usual can be taken from the vague (as expected) comments provided by Ozzie Newsome and Co., but the fact that Newsome did note that the Ravens have already received phone calls from teams interested in potentially moving up in the draft fuels the chances of Baltimore trading down, something fans have grown accustomed to.

That’s just one of many options the Ravens will have on Thursday night.

Here’s a look at the best-case scenarios for Baltimore in the first round.

1. Alabama Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – You don’t have to do much digging to discover that Clinton-Dix has already been noted as a best-case scenario for the Ravens. In a draft that presents several hybrid safeties, Clinton-Dix is a true free safety in every definition of the position.

Clinton-Dix possesses a rare combination of length and range that provide justifiable belief he can develop into a true playmaking free safety and imposing threat on the back end. He isn’t at that level right now, and he has yet to establish himself as a consistent ball hawk in the secondary. But with time and experience (only 19 career starts), Clinton-Dix could be groomed into that type of safety, and would perform well paired with Matt Elam.

Along with his coverage ability, Clinton-Dix is a sure tackler given his size (6’1), which should aid him during his rookie year as in Baltimore he would need to be able to hold down the last line of the secondary, sometimes on his own.

2. Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan – The Ravens will surely be out of the running to select top offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews, but if Lewan is still on the board at 17 then he may be too good to pass up.

A left tackle at Michigan, Lewan can step in as a day one starter at right tackle, and would likely be an instant upgrade over Michael Oher, even as a rookie. He carries a nasty, hard-nosed attitude on the field, one that unfortunately is sometimes carried off the field, which does raise concern. He isn’t a perfect prospect by any means, but as a four-year starter with above average athletic ability, it’s hard not to think he would be a valuable addition to the offensive line.

3. Trade down – Of course, easier said than done, but if the Ravens are sitting on the clock at 17 with players such as Clinton-Dix and Lewan off the board, perhaps attempting to slide back a few spots could be of intrigue. Baltimore doesn’t need more picks this year as the team enters the draft with eight, but if at that point in the draft the most desirable remaining player on their board could be had in the 22-26 range, why not take the free picks?

Barring – outside of the two players mentioned above – any projected top-10 pick falling all the way to 17, it would behoove Baltimore to entertain the idea of trading back if there’s a trade partner. The Ravens could move back and still be in position to grab a safety like Jimmie Ward or a linebacker such as C.J. Mosley.

4. Take an impact player, even if it isn’t at a position of need – This is different than just saying “best player available” as that term can be misinterpreted at times. Yes, obviously the Ravens take the best player on their board, but positional needs can dictate a player’s value on the board/where the Ravens could select that player. It’s not a coincidence that the Ravens selected Elam last year when they just happened to not have a starting strong safety on the roster at the time (James Ihedigbo technically wasn’t a starter this time last year).

That being said, the Ravens may not have any worthy candidates at right tackle or free safety, the two glaring needs, and if a trade partner can’t be found, staying put and grabbing a premier player even at a non-need position wouldn’t be a horrible scenario.

That player could be Mosley, whose long list of injuries may be perilous to his draft stock. Or it could be a prospect like UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, whose potential outweighs his skill set right now, which could leave a slight chance he’s still on the board at 17, in which case he would be a darn good addition to the defense.

Or it could be a cornerback, perhaps the local product in Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech. The cornerback position isn’t a glaring need for Baltimore, but ideally upgrading the third cornerback position (in any round) is among the list of priorities after right tackle and safety.

Baltimore has a roster that’s good enough to make the playoffs in 2014, and with a few more pieces, could be good enough to make another long playoff run.

Adding an instant impact player at 17 – regardless of position – would further aid Baltimore’s strong offseason.

Which of the scenarios described above is most likely?
Ravens laugh and turn in the card for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (15%)
Taylor Lewan is the man! (13%)
Ozzie trades down (43%)
Stay at 17 and take the best player available (29%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.

9 Raves on “A Ravens Draft Day Preview

  1. Cheri on said:

    Good grief another post that does not even list WR as one of the needs..When will people ever learn. Sign a 35 year old and now we are good to go.GREAT..Here is another one to file away that would be a perfect scenario trade down with the 49ers get their 30, 56 and their 7th round pick and still get M.Lee .

    • O'Shea on said:

      Since the draft is so deep, we don’t need to pick up a WR in the first round. There are some impressive guys that will go in the second or third round that could have gone in the first round last year. That plus the fact that any rookie, regardless of what round, who learns under a future Hall of Famer will be better prepared for a starting role a year after being drafted than any rookie who just has their feet put to the fire. Also I gotta say that Steve Smith obviously has some juice left in the tank. Last year he was injured and still put up more yards than any receiver on the Ravens not named Torrey. A fully healthy Steve Smith could easily churn out a thousand yards this coming year and be at very least serviceable in 2015. Not saying we shouldn’t draft a WR at all but just that it’s less of a need compared to RT, FS, or even TE.

      • Cheri on said:

        Oh I agree I do like the Steve Smith signing as long as it does not drop the need for a wr to a 5th or 6 th round area like we have been doing a lot lately.I also agree while I would not mind at all if we take a WR in the first round I agree that we don’t have to take one there.I would say though, that I would hope we don’t go no later then 3rd round and even that may be stretching it more like the second round for a WR. Watch and see these wr’s are going to come off fast from about pick 18 all the way through rounds 2 and early into the 3rd which I am afraid if we wait to the 3rd we will get left standing at the alter with guys who are not any better then what we have already with Brown and Mellette. I like Brown just not ready to automatically pencil him in as a #2

    • King Dooley on said:

      I totally agree with you. Jameson Hensley on ESPN insists that we don’t even need another receiver because this is the greatest WR corps in franchise history now that we got Steve Smith and re-signed Jacoby Jones. Are you kidding me? Jacoby Jones was signed at a discount to be the return specialist, which worked out because I don’t think they want him lining up at receiver at all unless as a stretch the field decoy. Steve Smith was a great addition I believe as long as you don’t expect him to do much more than be a leader and effort guy. He’s 35, 5’9″ and definitely has lost a step, but I’m glad he’s here to teach the new high draft pick how to be a professional. We need a phsyical receiver (Evans, Lattimer, Matthews) because even though I love Torrey and Marlon they are finesse receivers all the way.

      • Mr Purple on said:

        Marlon Brown is 6’5″ and 210 plus… How big do they need to be to be physical? Maybe 6’7″ 240?

  2. Ravensnhokies on said:

    Wow… HHCD over Lewan if both available. Stopped reading right the rest of the article right there. Do you really watch Bama games, Kyle? When they have a stellar pass rush against the mediocre SEC teams – Miss St, Ole Miss, Ark — Dix looks incredible. But when they went against Oklahoma, TAMU… real passing offenses, how did Dix look? He is a fraud just every other Saban Bama DB. I know you want the second coming of Ed Reed. He’s not. Thank god some team will be overdraft Dix ahead of us and be disappointed in a few years.

    I love Lewan but there is a 10% he’s there at #17.

    If they trade down, they are drafting a WR, I bet.

  3. Cheri on said:

    You are right.The age thing should be a big concern.Look how fast D. Mason lost it. I believe he had numbers sort of like Steve Smith’s were his last year in Balt. and then the Ravens let him go he goes to the Jets and Tenn. and looked awful he was probably around Smith’s age at the time to.These guys can lose it pretty quick in one off season esp. WR’s because most of them do rely on speed to get open or at least quickness to get in and oiut of their breaks, very few are like Boldin where they just out muscle the defender.

  4. Rxdoxx on said:

    And good grief, another post that uses a picture and doesn’t identify who it is of…

    in this case the picture is Taylor Lewan for those readers who don’t know what he looks like…

  5. fRANK on said:

    We cant afford to go O in the first 2 rounds… we need to stack up on D… it was a joke last year.. i dont care how much better we were from the year before… WE WERE A JOKE…stack up on LB and DB and S … its obvious that D wins championships… WE NEED A GOOD D to keep up with BUNGLES.. SQUEELERS.. THE UGGS ORGANIZATION AND MILE HIGH… go DEFENSE AND DEFENSE ALL 7 ROUNDS.. we dont need Offense this year…

    the problem with our O last year was we had noone dangerous…(dickson.. clark..sstockley..marlon jacoby) this yea we get pitta back.. daniels.. steve smith.. that will open THE RB… we will be JUST FINE ON O… but our D sucks … ITS ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC for a ravens STANDARD D… get rid of PEES.. hes the problem

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