As the draft process marches forward, big boards seem to be firming up with four consensus elite level prospects - LT Laremy Tunsil, DE Joey Bosa, DE DeForest Buckner and CB Jalen Ramsey. This could leave the Ravens, currently holding the #6 selection, in a precarious position, being forced to draft a lesser player at #6 when comparable talent would be available later in the first round. Wise fans have suggested that the Ravens should attempt to trade down to receive better value on the team's first pick and accumulate more draft picks for a Ravens roster that needs help at multiple positions.
Over the last five drafts combined, there have been a total of seven consummated trades involving Top 7 draft picks. No trades for Top 7 picks were accomplished in the 2015 draft. The 2014 draft saw Buffalo trade with Cleveland for the #4 pick to select WR Sammy Watkins in exchange for the #9 pick and Buffalo's 1st and 4th round picks in the 2015 draft. In 2013, Miami traded up to #3 to select DE Dion Jordan, giving Oakland the #12 and #42 pick in return.
There was an explosion of trading in the Top 7 during the 2012 draft. Washington traded up to #2 for QB Robert Griffin III, giving St. Louis a bounty of picks for the privilege, including #6, #39 and their first round pick in the following two drafts. Cleveland traded up with Minnesota to #3 for RB Trent Richardson, offering #4, #118, #139 and #211 in return. Also in 2012, Jacksonville swapped the #7 and #101 picks with Tampa Bay to snare WR Justin Blackmon at #5. And Dallas picked CB Morris Claiborne at #6 after giving St. Louis #14 and #45.
In the 2011 draft, Atlanta traded up to #6 for coveted WR Julio Jones, providing Cleveland with their #27, #59 and #124 picks along with their first and fourth round picks in the following draft. In total, 20% of the Top 7 picks have been traded in the last five drafts. The players selected including one quarterback, one running back, one cornerback, one defensive end and three wide receivers.
The 2016 draft class is not particularly strong at the top, especially at the quarterback position. At the same time, this draft class is considered relatively deep overall. The combination of these two factors could limit trade down opportunities for the Ravens.
Ravens fans should be rooting for some specific prospects that will strengthen their team's position at the upcoming NFL Draft and subsequent individual Pro Days. QBs Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch erasing questions about their abilities against top competition would benefit Baltimore. WR Laquon Treadwell running a fast time and CB Vernon Hargreaves measuring in at a tall height would also help the Ravens.
Hopefully some borderline Top 8 prospects rise up draft board over the next two months, giving the Ravens an opportunity to either draft an elite player who slides to them or entice another team to trade into the Ravens spot. Many questions remain to be answered, but one reality is certain - Ozzie Newsome will not make any draft trades unless the value of the trade for the Ravens is apparent.