With the NFL regular season ending on Sunday, all non-playoff teams have their spot in the 2014 NFL Draft finalized.
That is, except for the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens. Due to their equal records and strengths of schedules, the 16th and 17th slots will be decided between the two teams by ... a coin flip.
Since this is the first time John Harbaugh has missed the playoffs, this is also the highest draft pick he has ever had (excluding the draft spot inherited from Brian Billick in 2008).
Due to the fact that nothing has gone right for the Ravens lately, this article is written under the assumption that the Ravens will lose the coin flip and select at number 17, and anything else will be a pleasant surprise. The closest the Ravens have been to this pick was in 2008, when GM Ozzie Newsome maneuvered to the 18th pick and drafted quarterback Joe Flacco.
The last five players taken with the 17th overall pick in the first round are Jarvis Jones by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dre Kirkpatrick by the Cincinnati Bengals, Nate Solder by the New England Patriots, Mike Iupati by the San Francisco 49ers, and Jeremy Maclin by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jarvis Jones is a promising pass rusher, Dre Kirkpatrick intercepted Joe Flacco twice in the regular season finale, both Nate Solder and Mike Iupati are elite offensive lineman, and Jeremy Maclin was a key offensive weapon for the Eagles before tearing his ACL this past training camp.
More likely than not, the Ozzie Newsome and Co. will look for an offensive player with their first pick. The Ravens will have to fill holes at wide receiver, tight end, center, guard and tackle as well as considering running back depth this offseason. Essentially, every offensive position that is not quarterback or running back could be addressed in the first round.
Luckily for the Ravens and their best-player-available drafting strategy, many quarterback-hungry teams could push better prospects into the Ravens’ lap this year.
Some prospects the Ravens may be considering at 17th overall are:
Wide receiver: Sammy Watkins, Clemson; Mike Evans, Texas A&M; Marquise Lee, USC
Tight end: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Eric Ebron, UNC
Center: No centers are expected to go in the first round this year.
Guard: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State; Cyril Richardson, Baylor
Tackle: Taylor Lewan, Michigan; Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama; Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
We could very well be looking at an offensive overhaul similar to the defensive overhaul we witnessed last offseason as the Ravens and their $120 million quarterback finished 25th in points per game and 29th in yards per game.
Though the defense had its faults, the offense was a bigger contributor to the Ravens finishing 8-8 in 2013. There are plenty of areas to address on that side of the ball this offseason.