NFL analysts, “experts,” bloggers, fans, and everything in between, are waiting on the big day to arrive (this Thursday, April 23, 2020) to finally not speculate on where players will land. An elite (silent laughter about myself) group of men are putting in long hours of work on final mock drafts for all Ravens fans and NFL fans alike. We all have different methods and plans for these seven-round mock draft projects.
I set out to create the most ideal, yet realistic, mock draft for the Baltimore Ravens. Through conducting multiple simulations on The Draft Network’s mock draft machine, I created a solid sample size of players at each of Baltimore’s picks in the draft, and chose the one I felt was the best player available, while also eliminating the options that were available the fewest amount of times (per simulation). Through doing this, I still found value and players Ravens fans will/ should be pleased with. My hope is that this ideal seven-round mock draft satisfies team needs, BPA, and realistic scenarios while potentially selecting a player or two that Eric DeCosta picks on Day 1, 2, or 3.
Let’s get this train rolling…
Round 1, Pick 28 – Edge, AJE, Iowa
First round, pick number 28, the Baltimore Ravens select, Edge, A.J. Epenesa, from Iowa.
Some fans clamor for trading back (very valid stance to take) while others want to trade up or stay put and select a guy like Cesar Ruiz, C/G, Michigan. I decided to go with the best pass rusher available at this spot. Yes, A.J. Epenesa disappointed at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, but the game is not won with combine performances, it is won with football players (AJE is a very good one). Epenesa will come in, day one, and add to the run defense and the pass rush. He is a versatile piece along the defensive line who can play Rush OLB and can slide in to play some 3-Tech on passing downs. He will easily fit into the racecar package (defensive personnel with as many as five OLBs on field at once). The 2019 Baltimore Ravens squad won 14 games, a big leap from 2018, and one of the weakest areas of the strong 2019 team was the pass rush. Adding Epenesa helps the Super Bowl push and builds a bully up front for the future.
Other players available at 28 include: Kenneth Murray LB, Oklahoma, Jalen Reagor WR, TCU, Zack Baun Edge, Wisconsin, Ross Blacklock IDL, TCU, Jeremy Chinn S, Southern Illinois, and Michael Pittman Jr.
For those in favor of Ruiz at 28, in my 20 simulations, he was available 11 times, which was the slight majority of the time; however, all of the options listed above (including Epenesa) were available 16/20 times (minimum). I will be happy if Baltimore gets Ruiz in the first round, I just see some teams ahead of Baltimore (Dallas, New England, Miami, etc.) that could take the best C/G prospect in a thin class. I took the better positional value player with Epenesa (Edge) than taking Kenneth Murray (ILB). Hold tight flockers, and you will (hopefully) understand my thought process.
Round 2, Pick 55: MPJ, WR, USC
It is now Round 2, pick number 55…many fans want an inside linebacker by this point, or would like an interior offensive lineman, but what if I told you that those positions can be addressed slightly later, while still nabbing a top 2-3 tier wide receiver? The slam dunk selection at pick #55 is Michael Pittman Jr., an X receiver with great hands, solid movement skills, and strong athletic genes. MPJ comes to Baltimore as an immediate contributor on the perimeter, with the chance to become the clear-cut number two WR (probably not #2 target – see Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown). Miles Boykin will most-likely see a big jump in year two, but EDC will not sit back and hope for the best, he is going to draft difference-makers at important positions (Pittman Jr. is one).
Other players available (all prospects mentioned here were available a minimum of 7/10 times) at 55 include: Laviska Shenault Jr. WR, Colorado, Tee Higgins WR, Clemson, Justin Madubuike IDL, Texas A&M, Curtis Weaver Edge, Boise St, Julian Okwara Edge, Notre Dame, Malik Harrison ILB, Ohio St, and Robert Hunt IOL, Louisiana.
Some would pick Harrison, one of the other receivers, or Robert Hunt here, but a WR of Michael Pittman Jr.’s caliber does not make it past #55 often.
Round 2 Pick 60: Robert Hunt, IOL, Louisiana
Next up is the Ravens’ original second round pick, number 60. There are some very appealing options at this spot; players at inside linebacker and pass rusher (Edge) are available, but the best player at a position of need happened to be an interior offensive lineman. Robert Hunt, IOL, from Louisiana is the selection here. I hear the loud screams from Ravens fans here for ILB, but Hunt has more value in my opinion than an inside linebacker at this pick.
Hear me out… starting offensive linemen play the vast majority of offensive snaps, the group is reliant on chemistry and cohesion, and adding a player with a mauling/physical style will help the transition to a Marshal Yanda-less O-line. Inside linebackers often rotate on and off the field by personnel packages, and they are asked to play a lower percentage of snaps than offensive linemen. For these reasons, as well as the options to use a platoon methodology at the ILB position, I address offensive line here instead of linebacker.
Hunt has starting offensive guard/swing versatility and the ability to play some emergency right tackle. Ben Powers seems to be the plan at right guard; therefore, Hunt can slide in as the LG, which kicks Bradley Bozeman to a 6th man role and in competition to start at center.
Other players available (all prospects mentioned here were available a minimum of 8/10 times) at 60 include: Curtis Weaver Edge, Boise St, Malik Harrison ILB, Ohio St, Julian Okwara Edge, Notre Dame, Matt Peart OL, UConn, and Jonathan Greenard Edge, Florida.
I know many want linebacker at this spot or earlier, but Hunt helps fill a huge void along the offensive line with Yanda’s retirement.
Round 3 Pick 72: Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame
Trade alert! The Baltimore Ravens want to add another pass rusher before the best of the bunch get selected. Moving up in the draft into the early third round makes the most sense to get a good value edge rusher. Baltimore moves up to pick number 72, by trading with the Arizona Cardinals. Baltimore gives picks 92, 106, and 170 to Arizona for picks 72 and 202.
With the 72nd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select, Julian Okwara, Edge, from Notre Dame. This was a run-the-card-in (call in) type of pick; pass rush is a necessity and two edge rushers could be gone in 2021, in Matt Judon and Tyus Bowser. Adding Okwara along with Epenesa gives firepower to the pass rush and provides an injection of youth to the defense. The other player considered at pick 72 was Jonathan Greenard, an Edge from Florida, but Okwara is a notch above him as a rusher, so it was not too difficult of a decision.
The Baltimore Ravens do not pick again until pick number 129, and with that selection, the team grabs a position most flockers clamor for…
Round 4 Pick 129: Joe Bachie Jr., ILB, Michigan State
With the 129th pick, the Baltimore Ravens select, Joe Bachie Jr., ILB, from Michigan State. Bachie is a sound tackler, who can fill gaps well and play the Mike LB role that Josh Bynes left empty. He is not the flashy player that some people want, but he is a hard worker, a grinder, a high motor guy, and a player that Baltimore will appreciate. I do not think any other player (available at a high rate) fills a need better than Bachie does at 129.
Some wide receivers like Darnell Mooney, Quartney Davis, and Lynn Bowden were appealing, but they would be WR 3-4 at best coming in, and Bachie can be ILB 1-2.
Round 4 Pick 143: Michael Onwenu, IOL, Michigan
The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock, once more at pick number 143, and they select, Michael Onwenu, IOL, from Michigan. Oh boy, the Ravens now have some competition and big bodies on the interior of their offensive line. Onwenu is pretty underrated coming from a big program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Jim Harbaugh will be able to relay all sorts of inside knowledge to John once they get Onwenu to The Castle. Many Ravens fans that I interact with may go with more of an offensive tackle prospect here (I get it) but Onwenu was the clear-cut choice. This time no backup options are needed, book it. The Ravens get two really solid interior offensive linemen prospects in their 2020 draft haul… I’m all about it!
Round 6 Pick 202: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
Arizona received a number of picks as compensation for the Baltimore pick #72 deal, but Baltimore gets one more selection out of it, by taking Dalton Keene, tight end from Virginia Tech with the 202nd pick. Keene is a nice receiving threat at the tight end position. He can fill the departed Hayden Hurst‘s receiving role, while growing into a steadier contributor in the run blocking game. Keene produced very solid measurements and testing numbers at the combine, and when you check out his game, you see the smooth athleticism. Greg Roman loves TEs, so Keene will get some use right away (good luck to opposing defenses).
Round 7 Pick 225: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
The Baltimore Ravens make their last selection at pick number, 225 by taking offensive tackle, Trey Adams from Washington. Adams became notorious for a leaked interview question (meant for teams) at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Before that comment (you can look it up if you haven’t), Adams was known for being highly recruited coming out of high school. His college career did not end very well, but he has the ability to become a swing tackle/ depth piece at the very least. The Ravens want to address the offensive line this year, and that is what I have done with this ideal Ravens mock draft.
Ravens Draft picks by @realjakevogel:
#28 – A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
#55 – Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
#60 – Robert Hunt, IOL, Louisiana-Lafayette
#72 (trade with Arizona) – Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame
#129 – Joe Bachie Jr., ILB, Michigan St.
#143 – Michael Onwenu, IOL, Michigan
#202 – Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
#225 – Trey Adams, OT, Washington