Following the Ravens heartbreak loss to the Steelers, it seems as good a time as any to start looking into mock drafts. A reader mentioned the website Walk the Mock in a FanPost, so I decided to check it out. Walk the Mock allows you to select a team, and make picks for that team for the entire draft. The computer simulates the selections for the remaining teams. The draft order is a bit outdated, as when I completed this draft, the order was updated as of December 19. In this case, the Ravens have the 20th overall selection.
First Round: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
The position was easy, but the player was hard. For the Ravens to compete as well as they did with the Steelers without Jimmy Smith was impressive, but the Ravens need a second starting corner capable of stepping into Smith’s role if he gets hurt. King provides that ability for the Ravens. The Ravens would be able to move Tavon Young to the slot, and provide a major upgrade over Jerraud Powers. While King likely won’t be the top corner for the Ravens when he comes into the NFL, he has the talent that would make him the immediate top guy for the majority of team’s in the NFL.
King is a former Jim Thorpe award winner (award given to the top defensive back in the country), and continued his great play into this season. King finished the regular season with seven passes defended, 53 tackles, two interceptions (one of which was returned 41 yards for a touchdown), and one forced fumble. The numbers aren’t gaudy, but they are tempered as quarterbacks just don’t throw his direction very often. King’s 2016 campaign was highlighted in a an effort against Michigan where he was integral in shutting down what had previously been a potent Michigan passing attack.
King is highly regarded for his elite ball skills. King does not have elite speed, but his incredible ability to make a play on the ball make up for it. He also shows the ability to come up in run support, and hold contain on the outside. King has the skill set needed to compete in the AFC North.
Second Round: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
The Ravens top pass rushers are nearing the end of their careers, and an incredibly poor effort against Pittsburgh from the defensive line exposed a need for the Ravens. Lawson is a perfect fit for what the Ravens need. Lawson is arguably the best run defender in the nation, and proved this year that also is an excellent pass rusher. Lawson has nine sacks in 11 games, 28 tackles (12.5 of them for loss), and a forced fumble. Lawson set the tone for a much improved Auburn defense, and fights hard all the way through the whistle, just the kind of the player the Ravens love.
Third Round: Mason Cole, C, Michigan
Jeremy Zuttah had yet another frustrating game with costly penalties. The loss to Pittsburgh also exposed a Ravens need at center. I got tempted to use this pick on Pat Eflien out of Ohio State, but realized as I was doing my research that he chose to return to school. I turned to the next best option, Mason Cole. Cole was an exceptional run blocker from his career at Michigan. Cole was a former tackle, converted to center, and thus has the versatility to play all over the offensive line, something that could be important with Ricky Wagner soon to enter the free agent market. (Update: Cole declared on 12/28 that he will return to Michigan and forego the NFL Draft)
Fourth Round: Travin Dural, WR, LSU
The Ravens need a playmaker at the receiver position badly. With Steve Smith Sr. gone, and Kamar Aiken an impending free agent, the Ravens need to invest in another wide receiver. Dural has elite speed and very much reminds me of Tyreek Hill for his ability to make a play out of nothing, a skill that could be crucial in a Ravens offense that desperately needs to stretch the field. Check out this play as he burned through the Alabama secondary in 2015.
Fifth Round: Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
Sutton has tumbled down draft boards due to an injury suffered this year. But he still remains one of the more talented corners in the nation. Sutton has shut down potential in man-to-man coverage. Unlike King, Sutton does have high end speed necessary to keep pace with deep threat receivers. Sutton could provide the injury insurance policy the Ravens need.
Sixth Round: Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
Darboh has been largely underrated after posting a 52 catch, 826 yard regular season. Darboh was a key cog in the Michigan offense this year, a relatively safe pick in the sixth round. Darboh has good speed, however not like that of Dural. Darboh projects more a possession receiver due to his great hands and route running ability. Oh yeah, speaking of hands...
Seventh Round: Jay Guillermo, C, Clemson
Guillermo has been a solid center for a Clemson offensive line that has helped produce one of the best offenses in the nation. While unlikely to crack the Ravens roster, Guillermo is an experienced player, who is set to play on the biggest stage in college football for the second year in a row. Guillermo at least provides the Ravens another option if neither Zuttah or Cole work out.