Exactly four weeks from now, the Baltimore Ravens will be a day removed from their 2015 first round selection and readying for the start of the NFL Draft’s Friday night festivities, which include the second and third round.
While so close to draft day, trying to predict which prospect the Ravens will select with the 26th overall pick – or if they will even draft in that slot or execute a trade – still seems impossible.
The moves made in free agency thus far have not cleared things up in terms of Baltimore’s draft plans, although the departures of Torrey Smith and Pernell McPhee could open up the chance for a selection of either a wide receiver or edge rusher.
Earlier this week, I tried my hand at predicting who the Ravens will draft in the first round, going with Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams. Early Friday morning, however, Williams was arrested for DUI , making the fringe first round pick’s draft stock wildly uncertain.
Williams was an enticing option prior to his arrest, and whether or not he will even be in consideration for the Ravens now remains to be seen.
Along with Williams are many other logical potential selections in the first round for the team.
Which prospects are analysts linking to Baltimore?
Rang’s analysis: “Given the loss of Torrey Smith in free agency and the advancing age of Steve Smith, the Ravens will be in the market for receivers. Strong is aptly named, showing the physicality and body control to make acrobatic catches and he showed off his explosiveness with stellar marks in the 40-yard dash (4.44) and vertical jump (42 inches) at the Combine. He also comes with high marks for his work ethic and dependability.”
Davis’ analysis: “Consideration will be given to selecting a CB here, but with Steve Smith, Sr., aging (shhh, don’t tell him I said that), and Torrey Smith gone to the 49ers, Strong is needed.”
RSR analysis: Strong is becoming increasingly connected to the Ravens, but he would not be the best case scenario for the Ravens in the first round. There is just something missing with Strong: he can flash Anquan Boldin-like contested catch ability, but he also lets too many passes slip away. His average route-running ability makes for necessary refinement in the NFL in order to have success. Every analyst wants to find the next Boldin for Joe Flacco, making Strong an easy name to mock to the team, but there are much, much better wide receiver options in this year’s draft.
SI’s Peter King: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
King’s analysis: “I have never been one for common wisdom when it comes to predicting the Ravens. Nor has Ozzie Newsome, who must be focusing on corners and receivers. But Gordon dropping this far, even with found money Justin Forsett in the fold, cannot be ignored.”
RSR analysis: Very few people would want their favorite team to select a running back in the first round, including Ravens fans. The post-first-round value of running backs is often too good to use a high pick on one, but in this year’s draft, Gordon has a good chance of being a first round selection, making him a possibility for the Ravens. He will visit the team prior to the draft, and certainly will be in play if still on the board at 26.
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Brooks’ analysis: “Ozzie Newsome excels at finding Pro Bowl talents at the bottom of Round 1. Gurley could be the next candidate based on his remarkable physical tools and rugged running style.
RSR analysis: Like Gordon, there is a good chance Gurley hears his name on the first day of the draft. A dominant player at Georgia, Gurley displayed some Jamal Lewis-like running ability, and is also a vital receiving threat out of the backfield. A late-2014 ACL injury makes it unlikely Gurley produces much as a rookie in the NFL, however.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Jeremiah’s analysis: “The Ravens suffered some big losses in free agency, and adding depth to the defensive line is a priority.”
RSR analysis: After selecting a Florida State defensive lineman – Timmy Jernigan – last year, Goldman could be of interest to the team. He makes an impact as an interior run stuffer, however Baltimore already has Brandon Williams at nose tackle, which is the position Goldman would play in a 3-4 defense. A one-two punch of Williams and Goldman could be intimidating, though.
CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Brugler’s analysis: “It’s a fair bet that the Ravens will pick a receiver at some point and while Green-Beckham has his baggage, the reward out-weighs the risk at this point in the draft.”
RSR analysis: I’ll keep this short: Green-Beckham’s talent is not enough to outweigh the baggage, and I’d be shocked if the Ravens take “DGB” in any round, let alone the first.
FOX Sports’ Pete Schrager: Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio)
Schrager’s analysis: “Ravens coach John Harbaugh was once a star defensive back at Miami of Ohio. Here’s another one. Rollins’ story is unique: He was a star on the Miami hoops team for four years before ever stepping on the football field. At the urging of some at the school, he suited up for the football team and somehow was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year after a seven-interception debut campaign. Rollins is truly just scratching the surface. He has the size and smarts teams crave at cornerback, and he’s still learning the game. This is a big area of need in Baltimore, and this is the right type of player for its system. If the Ravens are a little patient with Rollins, a quick study, there could be a great payoff.”
RSR analysis: Schrager seems to be over thinking this whole concept. The Harbaugh-Miami connection likely factors little into Baltimore’s potential interest in Rollins, and while the defensive back has upside due to success with lack of experience, it is hard to justify selecting him in the first round.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Kadar’s analysis: “System fit. In this scenario, it would be hard for the Ravens to find a wide receiver who fits Baltimore better than Smith. He’s an impressive deep threat who can take the top off a defense. Going forward he’ll have to continue improving his route running, but he showed signs of it at the Senior Bowl.”
RSR analysis: In terms of fit, Kadar is right: Smith’s ability as a deep threat would fit in well with Joe Flacco. However, the 26th pick may be too rich for Smith’s ability. He is an exceptional vertical player with speed and ball skills, but may not be well-rounded enough to warrant this selection.