I'm pretty much set with my firm opinion on what the Ravens should do with the 8th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, which begins at 3pm this Saturday, April 26th. The beginning will be sort of anti-climatic, with Michigan offensive tackle Chris Long already under contract to be the #1 pick of the Miami Dolphins.
However, after throwing out a bunch of opinions over the past couple of months on what the Ravens should do, I now am dead set against grabbing Boston College QB Matt Ryan, even if he is still there at #8. Of course, Ryan should end up being a decent or better pro QB, but the reasons go deeper than that. The Ravens have a bunch of positional needs, including QB and CB as their most pressing. However, there are really only seven truly outstanding players in this year's draft class.
Sure, guys like Ryan Clady and Leodis McKelvin, as well as a couple of other DB's are up there as potential NFL stars, but the seven on this above list are "can't miss" prospects. After that, there's a pretty good argument of where to place any of the other guys, who could all go in any order, depending on each drafting team's needs.
That said, there is a bigger need throughout the first round for good cornerbacks than for good quarterbacks. There could easily be up to five or six DB's taken in round one.
All of the above could be gone by the time the Ravens get to their second round pick (#38 overall). However, there are a decent bunch of QB's that should be available in round two, as Matt Ryan may be the only QB selected in the first round. Including Ryan, the QB list looks like this:
John David Booty
The first four should be gone within the second round and the last ones on the list would be excellent choices in the third. However, if the Ravens end up with either Joe Flacco or Chad Henne with their second round pick, it would be a great choice for their future.
Then what do they do with their first round selection? If one of the top seven fall to them, they should grab him (other than Ryan), regardless of team need. The most likely option here is USC's DT Sedric Ellis, who has been a beast at the Combine and USC's Pro Day. He could back up both Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg at the DT's, and ultimately move over and replace the aging and injured Trevor Pryce at DE and be a game breaker and destructive presence in the mold of the stereotypical physical Ravens defense.
In the likely event that those top seven players are gone by number 8, then I'd love to see the Ravens trade down to the middle or early twenties of the first round, picking up an additional pick, be it another second rounder or even a third round pick (Note: The only 3rd round pick the Ravens have is their Compensatory Pick at the end of the 3rd round). Picking up an additional first day selection would be huge, as they could then pick another excellent player (O-lineman?) who could immediately contribute in 2008.
This obviously would be the way to go, even perhaps if Sedric Ellis is still there. The Ravens know that the Bengals would be drooling to grab Ellis if the Ravens pass on him. Therefore, perhaps they could convince another team to trade with them or even threaten the Bengals to give them another pick to trade places and put Ellis in Cincinnati's lap, although I'd never commit to helping our mortal enemies improve.
So there it is. Get a great CB prospect in the first round, a very good QB of the future in the second round, and then fill needs, such as o-line, d-line and the many other reserves this team needs. If we end up with say, Aqib Talib and Joe Flacco after Day One, I'd be a happy camper and believe most true Ravens fans would be so as well!