Ravens Need to be BOLD on Draft Day

Sammy+Watkins+Wake+Forest+v+Clemson+PiSC6qXoD9Xl

Teams that are regularly successful in today’s NFL generally have solid quarterback play, efficient management of the salary cap and they effectively mine collegiate talent in order to replenish their roster. Miss on one and it puts pressure to be even better with the other two.

The Ravens believe they have their franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco and they’ve paid him like an All Pro. Next season Flacco’s cap number climbs to $14.8M. More seasons like that of 2013 from Flacco and it will really crush the team’s chances for success. The Ravens would then be forced to spend more to support Flacco with talent to offset his substandard seasons.

Eventually cap constraints will inhibit the team’s ability to bring in proven veteran talent. The roster becomes top heavy with underperforming and overpaid players and others who probably wouldn’t make the 53-man squads of the league’s playoff contenders. When a franchise finds itself in this highly undesirable situation immense pressure builds to find and quickly develop young players.

To avoid such a downward organizational spiral the Ravens are determined to fix their offense – to give Joe Flacco the tools to succeed. GM Ozzie Newsome’s shopping list at minimum includes:

  • A new coordinator
  • A veteran center
  • A short-term veteran at right tackle
  • Re-sign Eugene Monroe
  • A power RB
  • An impact WR

Ozzie’s challenge will be to complete the list on a limited budget.

All of the items on the list can be budget-friendly except the impact WR. Successful veteran WR’s are expensive and as we’ve seen during the team’s history they haven’t been able to draft an impact receiver – a difference maker that creates sleepless nights for opposing team’s defensive coordinators.

Torrey Smith has proven to be a very solid second round pick but his game so far is somewhat limited. Perhaps one day he’ll become a No. 1 WR but he’s not there yet and the Ravens don’t have time to wait for another Smith to develop.

They need help at WR now!

The 2014 NFL Draft is said to be well stocked with wide receiver talent, but we’ve heard that before and the Ravens have come up short with selections like Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton.

In the past the Ravens have shown patience and poise on draft day. They are so well prepared and adapt to draft day surprises quickly. They are very nimble in the war room.

This year, maybe the Ravens shouldn’t be so patient. They should develop a strategy to move up from 16 or 17 (pending a coin flip with the Dallas Cowboys) and get Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.

Watkins for the moment is slotted to go between 7 and 10 in the 2014 NFL Draft by most draft publications. Utilizing the Trade Value Chart and assuming the worst case scenario, that the Ravens need to move to 7 from 17, the move would cost their own first round pick plus a 2nd and 3rd round pick. The Ravens should then be able to pick up a 5th round pick from their trading partner to even out the assigned pick point values.

The price may seem expensive to the Ravens. Assistant GM Eric DeCosta has often explained that he is in the “pick business” – the more picks the better.

But some players are worth moving up to get and Watkins is one.

Ozzie can complete the balance of his offensive shopping list within his budget but that impact WR has to come in the draft and there is no surer bet at WR in the draft than this Clemson Tiger.

Back in 2010 the Falcons made a bold move to jump 21 spots in the draft to get Julio Jones. They gave up two first-round picks, a second round pick and two fourth-round picks.

I don’t think anyone in Atlanta is saying, “I wish we hadn’t done that.”

It’s time for the Ravens to be as bold.

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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. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

40 Raves on “Ravens Need to be BOLD on Draft Day

  1. JW on said:

    Sammy is an elite WR and will be at the NFL level. He’s worth the move, but there is SO much talent in this class, I can see them staying where they are. This is a deep class… I could see them actually trading BACK.

    Might seem a bit ridiculous but guys like Mike Evans, Marquise Lee, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, and others may be available at 25-30. If I’m not mistaken, the Ravens don’t have many picks this year.

    • franchisepw on said:

      You’re right JW. We do not need to trade up to get this guy. We can get a solid possession WR in the first round and then draft other guys with our picks like OL, DL and TE. Hell, we should even draft a RB in the 3rd round this year!

    • CERSR1 on said:

      Hey JW, franchisepw, & especially Ben we’ve got 1-3 & 6th picks the compensatory pics nobody @ the moment knows where the heck they’re goin 2 fall. If we didn’t have some glaring issue @ already mention, then I’d say “letz pull da trigger”, this not a sprint by any means. So doing a Deadskins or Falcons move is insane. I like our chances with get 2 young men frm Penn St. or USC, & with 1 those comp pics get Watkins wr mate. And guys lest not 4get we r probably r going 2 lose Arthur Jones ,we got a te 2 sign & 1trillion$$$$ fix draft a tackle and possibly ,just my opinion Univ. of Ark. c Travis Swanson. Don’t know bout any1 else in BLKBYRD NATION , I CAN’T FREAKIN take who we hav know another yr @ starter.

      In a nutshell my man we can’t go all in ,”DA WIZARD” knows this squad hasn”t been built on quick fixes,cuz #1it doesn’t fare well 4 da Ravens.

  2. Ben on said:

    Actually Tony, I was one of the ones who said that Atlanta shouldn’t have done that.

    At the time the Falcons had similar needs to the Ravens, mainly an elite CB and WR and also needed to bolster their team with quality depth. Depth you find in the third or fourth rounds usually. Now if the Falcons stood their ground they would have had an opportunity to draft a guy like Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith. As opposed to only Julio. Further, they had a WR who played pretty well this past season in relief of Julio in Harry Douglass. A guy who never had an opportunity because he played behind White and Jones.

    Further, had they not drafted Julio they would have had a pick in the 2012 NFL draft. A pick they could have used on a RB like Doug Martin or a CB like Janioris Jenkins or a Tackle (which they desperately need now) like Cordy Glenn. Not only that but these players would be a lot cheaper and not force them to screw up their cap or lose out on potential free agents (like Douglass) instead.

    Further still they wouldn’t have been forced to use a pick on a guy like Desmond Trufaunt in 2013 and could have used it for a pass rusher, safety, defensive tackle or drafted for next year at TE when they’re surely losing Tony G.

    Now I know the draft is a crap shoot, but I think that’s why DeCosta is in the pick business. Let’s face it we only need one or two players to develop into stars for it to be a great draft but we don’t know where those players will be (case in point 2010 with Pitta in the fourth and Art Jones in the fifth) and the more you lose in picks the more you lose in depth.

    Just look at the Jets after giving up their draft in 09 for Sanchez and Green. Think they want that do over?

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Ben,

      All fair points but to get a guy like Watkins for far less a price than Jones would be IMO a bold and effective move. Essentially we get Watkins by sacrificing a 2nd and 3rd for a 5th.

      • John on said:

        I can’t lie I would be excited if that were to happen but lets be honest it won’t, it is waaay more likely that Ozzie will trade back, we are already down a 4th and 5th for Monroe, you think he will be comfortable with just a 1, 5, 6 & 2 7′s plus the 3 comps (btw I am desperately awaiting the next article with the predicted comp picks we will get)?

        As much as I would hate it on draft day the Ravens could drop back and still get a good reciever if not more than 1. Ozzie has said in the past that the draft is like playing the lottery and the more tickets you have the better your chances of hitting it big.

      • Ben on said:

        No question Tony. I’d love Watkins here but I just would rather have my cake and eat it too. I think a guy like Benjamin, or Amano, or both gives you just as much of an opportunity to win as Watkins does. Better still if you can get both.

        This year seems to be a deep draft for WR’s and O linemen. So with that I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens move back to the 20-25 range and pick up a top shelf WR and then O linemen at the top of the second.

        In any event since it’s not an exact science I just worry about giving yourself fewer shots, as Charles Rodgers also looked like a home run.

      • Justin on said:

        As excellent a player as Sammy Watkins is, he’s not worth 2 players, and a round a half in the second. We will always lose players to the Cap. You didn’t even mention losing Arthur Jones after this year and quite possibly Ngata AND Chris Canty after this year. Or Daryl Smith. Giving up that many players under control in your draft for a Watkins is, to be blunt, foolish.

        Julio Jone’s broke his foot again and has health questions moving forward. That’s the equivalent of 3 players getting injured, since you traded away your picks.

    • Jerry on said:

      If you’d rather have Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith than Julio Jones, you don’t get football. But, no, argue against the trade because Harry Douglas put together a solid four-game stretch three years later.

  3. Trace on said:

    Jones is a great receiver, but I don’t know if that trade has entirely worked out for the Falcons. I actually think a major part of why they fell apart this year is because of the lack of the depth which, has to be due in large part to the lack of draft picks they’ve had in recent years.

  4. Jamie on said:

    I don’t see how you can compare Sammy Watkins to Julio Jones. Julio was clearly worth such a jump a few years back, but Watkins? In the video above, 9/10 plays are thrown to Watkins at the line of scrimmage and his success running down-field is dependent on blocking from his team mates. Doesn’t seem like a very versatile receiver or anything special enough to risk so many picks for but just my two cents.

  5. JerryB on said:

    Don’t think Ozzie is inclined to ever give up a #1 in the draft again, but it’s not impossible. They’ve done a pretty credible job in free agency and drafting as well as selecting undrafted free agents. So good, in fact, that teams who don’t draft well almost use the Ravens as a “farm team” of sorts. I don’t know if their “best player regardless of need” attitude has changed, but it should. They really NEED help in the areas you mention. Time will tell……

  6. Mark on said:

    They may move up if someone they love starts dropping but I think they are more likely to move down than up because of the depth of the WR and TE class this year. You could make the argument by looking at the picks given up by Atlanta that they would have been better off not making the trade. The Raven’s cap issues require at least for the next 2 years that they find several more inexpensive players to be productive. This is a very deep draft with all the underclassman and we need help at multiple spots.

    Still think they are looking for big WRs and extra big TEs to help Joe. If the Castle likes Evans or Benajmin but thinks they are not value at 16/17, they may move down and take who they like best in the 20′s (WR, TE, OT) and get an extra pick at end of 2nd round.

    • shar on said:

      Agreed. I don’t think the Falcons regret moving up for Jones because he is that big time, but the rest of the team has most definitely suffered. I do not know if that was the wisest of trades.

  7. shar on said:

    I don’t think it would be wise to trade up for Watkins. Actually, the more I think about it, I am almost certain that the Ravens will trade down in the first to acquire more draft picks, and then package those to eventually move up in the second or third. There are several other receivers (Evans, Benjamin, Matthews, Robinson) who I think could fit the team. I also would not be unhappy with a defensive pick here. If a guy like Khalil Mack, Stephon Tuitt or Anthony Barr is still on the board, I think you take him and find the solution to WR in another round. The depth at receiver is very good in this year’s draft.

  8. Omowale on said:

    Last thing we need to do is draft like the Falcons. They made a huge mistake by being too greedy in the draft. Depth would’ve been worth way more than 1 Julio for an entire draft. Injuries completely wipe them out because of lack of depth. Since I live in GA now, I jar at the Falcons fans that they draft like they were playing Madden with injuries off. I will say this, we do have some room to play with picks because we will get some decent compisation for the players we lost in the off season. How much is the question.

    Speaking of Draft depth, it quite possible that we get a power back in the 3rd-5th round range as well

  9. mark on said:

    I LOVE THE IDEA OF WATKINS IN BALTIMORE..I have been watching this kid since he was a freshman and have since become a casual fan of Clemson..He had some substance problems and lost his head a little in his sophomore year but has made the adjustments in his life that he has needed to since..someone commented earlier that all he did was catch screens and you need people to block..true..but please..don’t look at the trees,look at the forrest..SPEED KILLS..you have a burner on one side in Smith and you put Watkins on the other and if they can get Pitta back(Joe loves him so maybe he will restructure to keep him)to play TE..who is gonna cover that??..I say not many..i would love to see Ozzie do something this bold..chances are he won’t but would love to see Sammy trade in the purple and orange for purple and black..

  10. Bruce Romo on said:

    … I confess, I would be excited over Watkins; but what about the Tight End class ( Eric Ebron) ?
    … Defensively, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ozzie signed free agent All-Pro Free Safety Jarius Bryd.

  11. Scott on said:

    A very bold idea, but it’s not happening. As noted above, the Falcons’ Jones trade killed their depth, where they were really exposed this year. Matt Ryan was beaten up like a piñata this year. With all the underclassmen entering this draft (perhaps 100 in the end), it could be the deepest draft in years. We need MORE picks, not less, particularly after losing two in the Monroe trade.

    Your priority list also skips two glaring needs. The first is free safety, which we desperately need to move Elam to his better SS position, and to get a Reed-like ballhawk roaming in M&T again. And FS is actually a weak area in the draft — there are only two or three considered likely starting material (first or second round picks), so forfeiting our high picks to gamble on Watkins would force us to go with a veteran FA retread FS again (cough, HUFF!). Not happening.

    And we desperately need TEs. At least one, probably two. Ozzie admitted he regretted not drafting a TE last year — he’s not doing that two years in a row! Dickson and possibly Pitta will be gone. There is some depth at TE in the draft this year — we could find a starting quality stud in rounds 2-3. But we can’t bank on a guy drafted in the 5th round will be the next Gronk. Not happening.

    And if we don’t improve our OL, Flacco won’t have any ATS to throw to a rookie WR. I expect us to draft an OL (probably RT but possibly interior) in the first or second round.

    As for WR, there is good depth in this draft — lots of tall, RZ-threat, 3rd down-reliable prospects in the first three rounds. No need to get desperate for Watkins. And there will be some interesting FAs like Jeremy Maclin on the market at a decent price (he’s coming off an injury). Rookie WRs that make big contributions are pretty rare.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing us trade down with Cleveland for the first round pick they got from the Colts (probably pick 22 or so), with us getting quality Cleveland picks in return (probably a 2nd and/or 3rd rounder). Remember 4 years ago, Denver gave us high second, third and fourth round picks (which we used on Kindle, Dickson and Pitta) for our late 1st round pick (which they used on Tebow). That would allow us to meet our key needs, and we’d still have our late compensatory picks for depth and development players.

    • Jerry on said:

      Michael Huff stinks, therefore the Ravens will draft a free safety in the first three rounds? Hmmm…..Not saying they won’t draft a FS, but I don’t think you avoid a position in free agency just because your low-budget signing at that position failed the year before.

      And, people are really jumping to conclusions blaming the Julio Jones trade for Atlanta’s lack of depth. First of all, a superstar wideout on a rookie contract, even a top-5 pick, is an absolute bargain…the kind that allows you to allocate resources elsewhere. The Falcons chose to allocate their cap space to a few big superstars and then overpaid some of their own solid but unspectacular players. If you want to blame someone for the team’s lack of depth, blame Dimitroff for the William Moore, Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, etc. signings. The Panthers similarly put themselves in a tough spot by overpaying on extensions for their own talent. To be fair, you could say the same about the Ravens, but Ngata and Suggs were at least considered elite talents when they received their extensions, and the team was in a tough spot with Flacco. Seriously, though, in the NFL these days, if you’re paying $10+ mill/year for an interior lineman, he better be a 12-sack threat like Suh or McCoy. Ngata’s contract looks SO bad after the fact.

  12. akacrow on said:

    The Ravens need a wideout who can be a starter in the league. A player the opposing defense has to account for. That player does not have to be a world beater, they just have to get the job done.

  13. Lee on said:

    They had a great no huddle offense, but it slow down be Flacco did not move the team to the line with some kind of urgency. Will they fix that? Other teams were able to stop the big plays this season which is Flacco’s bread and butter. What can they do to fix that?

  14. gianna onorato on said:

    I think they move back and take the kid from Penn state. He is big and has the nest hands I’ve seen. Btw I’m not a penn state fan.

  15. Donta on said:

    I do not see the Ravens moving up to get Watkins but you never know. I want Mike Evans 6-5 225 WR from Texas A&M a guy with size who boxes guys out and goes up and gets that football.

  16. Jon Fazzone on said:

    Ozzie, KISS…Keep It Simple Silly…Don’t Over Think it…Paralysis By Analysis…Take Either WR MEvans or KBenjamin in the 1st…We need Red Zone Help and the 3rd and 7 Help…then 2nd and 3rd plus the Comp Pick in the 3rd Rd…Go in some Combo of T CFleming FS EReynolds and TE TNiklas…Or of that Groupng of Positions/Players…Or Trade up for WR SWatkins…I love them being BOLD…But not this year…

  17. Shock on said:

    BTW, fat lotta good the Julio Jones trade has done for ATL, thinking big picture. Zero playoff wins save the one against Seattle last year where Carroll handed them a second-chance FG when he failed to ice Bryant. Not sure the overall returns have been worth it.

  18. Big C the Guru on said:

    Watch out for the Ebron kid from UNC at TE… He is LEGIT and pair him with Pitta, magic. I have a feeling at WR they are going to bring in a proven guy, I have a feeling who they’re gonna trade for and extend. And it would work perfectly… But what do we give them for him. They have to get the best playmaker possible with that 16th pick.

  19. JustaslowZ06 on said:

    No thanks. Sorry but stay at 16/17 and pray to the football gods that Evans slides that far. Or at least in reasonable striking distance. If not trade back and take Matthews. Besides don’t need that pure speedster in the WCO well be moving to.

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