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Finding Gems in the Draft photo: Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Finding Gems in the Draft

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The Ravens will need to address their biggest needs in the draft after a quiet foray in free agency.

Baltimore needs to add an edge rusher, a speedy wide receiver and depth on the offensive line. The team could also use a free safety for depth in the secondary. 

GM Eric DeCosta has seven selections at his disposal and he wishes that he had more.

Nonetheless, the Ravens will have a big decision to make with the 27th overall selection.

The consensus among the draft pundits is DeCosta will select LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall. He would provide Lamar Jackson with another outside threat and bring a winning attitude to Baltimore. Marshall would also be just the second player from LSU the Ravens have ever taken in the draft.

Other wide receivers that have been linked to the Ravens in the first round include Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, who is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds with exceptional hands, Florida’s Kadarius Toney, a stout playmaker that is exceptional at breaking tackles, and Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who has drawn comparisons to Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill

“[When] we look at the board, we have a ton of receivers on the board again, which is a good thing,” Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said. “Offensive line looks pretty good, I think, in the first three or four rounds at least and then it thins out. So, that’s really good. I think outside linebacker looks pretty good. Corner looks pretty good. Tight end is probably sparse. 

“Running back is probably not as good. Fortunately, we drafted a good one last year. But overall, it looks like numbers-wise very similar in terms of the fertility of the Draft [and] the amount of good players across the board. At least through the first four or five rounds, there’s a really good chance for us to get a guy that would have a chance to start over time, and that’s a great thing.” 

However, this is a deep draft for wide receivers, so the Ravens might shift their focus to adding an edge rusher in the first round. That position is not as deep and it could be a challenge to find value in the later rounds.

Some of the Ravens’ potential targets at edge rusher include Jayson Oweh (Penn State), Joseph Ossai (Texas), Joe Tryon (Washington), Zaven Collins (Tulsa) and Carlos Basham Jr. (Wake Forest).

The Ravens have a pressing need for an edge rusher after losing several players this offseason. Matt Judon, who led the team with six sacks last season, signed a new deal with the Patriots as a free agent. Yannick Ngakoue signed with the Raiders after finishing with eight overall, but only three in nine games for Baltimore. Jihad Ward, who signed with the Jaguars, managed three sacks last season.

“You have to be able to get the quarterback uncomfortable,” DeCosta said. “I think [defensive coordinator Don] ‘Wink’ [Martindale] does a masterful job of that, using our pass rushers and also pressure packages and things like that. So, we’ll always be a team that’s aggressive on defense. We’ll always be a team that’s coming at you in different ways.”

The Ravens signed guard Kevin Zeitler as a free agent this offseason. However, there are still questions about who will start at center next season.

The team could find a solution internally by moving Bradley Bozeman from left guard to center, a position where he made 31 career starts at Alabama. Bozeman plays a key role in the Ravens’ record-setting rushing attack at left guard.

“I would defer to the coaches on Bradley,” DeCosta said. “Bradley has played center, but we’ll play who we think should play at that position. We do have some other guys that could play the position. 

The Ravens could look to the draft to add a center. One prospect could be Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, who has been mocked to Baltimore with the 27th overall pick. However, it’s doubtful Creed would be available that late in the first round.

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About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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