The NFL Draft is three months away, which means we have three months to uncover every scenario for the Baltimore Ravens.
One scenario has already made its rounds, and is sure to strengthen as May approaches.
But we can put it to rest before it’s too late.
The Baltimore Ravens won’t be trading up for Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, nor should they.
Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi kicked off the discussion on this site last month and he’s surely not the only one to present the scenario.
With all due respect to the man who runs RSR, we have a disagreement.
Let’s first start off with why the Ravens won’t trade up for Watkins, before we dive into why they shouldn’t.
We have to travel back in time to April 26, 2003.
The Ravens entered draft day with the need for a new face of the franchise at quarterback.
When it came time for the Ravens to make the 10th overall selection, they opted to take Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs (that worked out well).
Nine picks later, the future of the franchise changed.
Without another first round pick, general manager Ozzie Newsome worked the phones to cut a deal with the New England Patriots for the 19th overall pick.
It cost Baltimore the hefty price of their 2003 second round pick and a first round pick in 2004.
They found their then franchise quarterback in Kyle Boller.
A bold move that at the time looked like a promising one.
Now almost exactly 11 years since that draft day, the Ravens have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback not named Kyle Boller, who retired in 2012 after playing his last NFL game in 2011.
What did Newsome learn that day?
If you’re going to bet the house on a player, that player better work out.
The Ravens made the playoffs just twice in the five years between when Boller was selected and when Joe Flacco was brought in.
Newsome’s bold decision would likely lead to most NFL general managers losing their job, but luckily for Ozzie, his track record has outweighed the rare catastrophic failure that happened in 2003.
What have the Ravens done since drafting Boller?
One thing: they discovered a newfound value for draft picks.
Both Newsome and Eric DeCosta have publicly expressed their affection for draft picks, and most importantly their desire to trade down on draft day, which happens almost on an annual basis.
What don’t they do on draft day anymore? Trade up while giving away high draft picks like they did in 2003.
So how does this relate to Watkins?
No matter what the perception is of Watkins, there’s nothing about him that will result in the Ravens trading up for him. He could be the next Jerry Rice (which he isn’t, but just for argument’s sake), and it still wouldn’t happen.
Baltimore’s determination to capitalize on staying put or trading down has worked thus far, and as the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Just remember, this is a front office that traded BACK in the draft before eventually moving up to get their FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK in 2008. Baltimore values picks so much that Newsome and Co. decided to forgo the option of taking Flacco with their original 2008 pick, trading back and risking him being selected by another team.
For a team with as many needs as the current Ravens, now would be one of the worst times to change a trend that has worked fairly well.
Also a quick reminder because it appears some may need it: it’s easy to say “trade up and take (insert any player’s name).”
Only one problem: there actually has to be a team willing to trade down.
Back to the task at hand.
This year’s wide receiver class is as deep as ever, perhaps the deepest of the past decade.
Is this really the type of year to give up multiple Top-100 picks for a receiver who isn’t considerably better than other receivers in his class?
In terms of playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, Watkins is uncontested.
Getting the ball to him and letting him make plays after the catch was the base of Clemson’s passing game.
Here’s an example of what Watkins can do after the catch.
Plays like that are a consistent theme of Watkins’ game.
But is someone who does his damage after the catch worth what some think he’s worth?
That’s up for discussion.
Watkins is much more than a speed receiver, and he’s not a 2014 version of Cordarrelle Patterson, who does his work exclusively after the catch.
He can work his way through intermediate routes, and has the extension to make plays on balls.
But he’s far from the refined receiver, as his ball skills are a here-and-there trend as opposed to a consistent trait.
Watkins may be the most dynamic receiver in this year’s class, but he’s not the most refined or the most reliable.
It depends on who you ask, but if I’m trading a first, second and third-round pick possibly just to move up in the first round for a receiver, I want a sure-thing, franchise-changing type of player.
It’s hard to think Watkins is surely going to be that.
Don’t get your hopes up, Ravens fans.