There's a chance Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was being way more honest than his counterparts around the league generally are. Or maybe he was throwing up a smokescreen to gain a competitive advantage.
Either way, during a conference call with PSL ticket holders on Wednesday, Bisciotti was asked about the Ravens' draft needs. Many draft analysts believe the Ravens should — or even will — take a receiver with their first pick now that Torrey Smith is no longer on the roster.
Not so fast, says Bisciotti.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Steve Bisciotti: "The highest-rated player is the one we're going to take." Says he hopes it's a CB, but it could be a pass rusher.</p>— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ravens/status/583403442426802176">April 1, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Well that's interesting, but maybe only because it doesn't fit the short-term need of a receiver. Long-term, this actually makes more sense.
The Ravens could be losing Jimmy Smith in free agency after this season. He'll certainly be one of the top cornerbacks on the market and will command a big contract. Will the Ravens be willing to pay up? That remains to be seen. When the price gets too high, even with the most promising players that finish out their rookie contracts, the Ravens have a history of letting guys walk.
With that in mind, taking another first-round caliber cornerback, much like Smith when he was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft, would be wise. It would ensure the position group with another talented player at the position while giving him a year to learn the system behind Smith and Lardarius Webb.
As of now, SB Nation's Dan Kadar has corners Marcus Peters (Washington) and Jalen Collins (LSU) going in the 20-30 range. Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson is also an intriguing option who could wind up going in the late first round.
As for a pass-rusher, the Ravens have two of the best in the game which make up a top-two tandem in the NFL. But they're not getting any younger. Terrell Suggs is 32 and Elvis Dumervil is 31. Both are under contract for quite some time, with Suggs through 2018 and Dumervil through 2017.
Now, this league is fluid and things change all the time. And as of now, the only outside linebacker behind Suggs and Dumervil with experience on this roster is Courtney Upshaw. Therefore, it's not a bad idea to get a first-round talent at the position while waiting on an otherwise deep receiver class.
And none of that takes into account the fact that numbers wise, this receiving corps is still deep. Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, Marlon Brown and Jeremy Butler will all have opportunities to take on bigger roles in 2015. But even with these guys on the roster, you'd still think the Ravens need a young, top-tier receiver added to this roster. Hence, why Bisciotti's comments could be seen as a smokescreen, to possibly fool others around the league as to what's going on.
Sure, without Torrey Smith, there isn't that player that can take the top off of a defense. But as far as long-term planning goes, taking a cornerback or pass-rusher early may serve the Ravens better down the road.