Earlier this week I participated in the #FanLodgeMock draft and I used the Baltimore Ravens of course. The mock draft was four rounds (Including compensation picks) and it lasted three days from Sunday through Tuesday. It looked like a great opportunity for me to see how the Ravens 2016 NFL Draft could play out through four rounds and it was pretty fun analyzing which players fit best for the team.
As I was getting ready for the Ravens to be on the clock with the sixth overall pick, I began to see something that was a bit troubling. Four defensive players went in the first-five picks of the 2016 NFL #FanLodgeMock draft and I even said in the group in a laughing manner that I hope that it doesn't turn out the same way in real life later this month.
At the beginning of the draft, I received a message from the Houston Texans saying that there is interest in trading up with the Ravens and the Ravens would get OLB Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans 23rd overall pick in the first round. I declined the trade because the Texans were too far back in the first round and I didn't want to give up 17 spots and receive a player in Clowney who could very well be a bust. Clowney was selected with the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and so far has little to show for it.
So, the Texans eventually found a deal with the Dallas Cowboys and moved up to take linebacker Myles Jack with the fourth overall pick. At that point I was a bit stunned to see four defensive players go in the first-four picks already. I almost convinced myself that the Cleveland Browns would select Carson Wentz with the second overall pick but didn't.
The following players in the #FanLodgeMock were selected in the top five in order:
- Tennessee Titans selected Safety Jalen Ramsey
- Cleveland Browns selected DE/OLB Joey Bosa
- San Diego Chargers selected DE DeForest Buckner
- Houston Texans traded up with Dallas to select LB Myles Jack
- Jacksonville Jaguars selected LT Laremy Tunsil
Darron Lee was the selection for the Ravens and I felt and still feel that the Ravens could have an excellent player at this spot. Lee compares favorably to Myles Jack except Lee is more polished. Jack's rise to the top of the draft is due to the potential he has to be a top five defensive player in the NFL with his athleticism. But Lee is a guy who has a better resume in terms of execution and understanding the overall flow of a defense on the field.
There is a direct comparison between Lee and Jack via BleacherReport.com that really made me think long and hard about the pick. My original thought was to go with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves but I felt that I could get some quality defensive backs later in the four round mock draft for the Ravens. Hargreaves went to the Eagles with the eighth overall pick.
Overall, I was satisfied with pick of Lee. He would start next to inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the Ravens 3-4 defense.
What happened in the second round of the #FanLodgeMock draft?
FYI, I didn't make any moves via trade throughout this four round mock draft. I let the Ravens stay with the 36th overall pick. By this time other quality cornerbacks like William Jackson III, Mackensie Alexander and Eli Apple were already gone. I looked into selecting cornerback Kendall Fuller but I decided to hold off on that. The reason why I held off on it was because there was one player I felt like I couldn't pass up.
Jones has the potential to be a top five player from this draft class. His athleticism and raw talent is off the charts and he would allow the Ravens to use him as a five technique in its 3-4 defense. His role with the Ravens would be in mold of the way Trevor Pryce played for the team as a five technique from 2006-2010.
When you look at the top two selections for the Ravens in Lee and Jones in this mock draft, I selected players who are not only very comparable to Myles Jack and DeForest Buckner respectively, but they could end up being better than Jack and Buckner as well.
Buckner and Jack were selected in the first-four picks of the first round.
What happened in the third round of the #FanLodgeMock draft?
At this point in time, I was looking for value. Late first round to early second round value. Earlier I mentioned that I was thinking about drafting cornerback Kendall Fuller with the 36th overall pick. I thought I could wait a little longer to select him with the Ravens 70th overall pick in the third round. Turns out Fuller went to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 58th overall pick. I was 12 spots too late.
But I found one player who fills a need for the Ravens immediately.
The Ravens showed during the 2015 season that its defense didn't have a lot of depth at outside linebacker when Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles in week 1. Calhoun certainly helps fill that void as he is very alert when it comes to stopping the run and rushing to the quarterback. Some mocks over the past few months had Calhoun going as high as late in first round.
Ravens selections in the fourth round of the #FanLodgeMock draft
Early in the fourth round, I got the player I was looking for. His stock has risen over the past couple of months as he has been projected to go in the second round of some mock drafts. He's local and one that a Maryland Terrapin fan would be familiar with.
Yannick Ngakoue was a force with the Terps registering 13.5 sacks during his last season with the team in 2015. I really wanted to double down at outside linebacker in the pass rushing department as Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are both over the age of 31 and you can never have enough pass rushers anyway. Out of all the players I selected at this point, I felt like I got the best value with Ngakoue.
130th overall pick
Later the fourth round, I had three other additional draft picks. With the 130th overall pick with the Ravens, I decided to go with a corner.
White has leadership capabilities as a three year starter and that is something that the Ravens have preached about over the last several seasons into what the organization looks for entering the draft as he was named Georgia Tech's team captain during the 2015 season. The scouting report on White is that he would serve best as a nickel corner but he does have the speed to play on the outside as he ran a 4.49 at the combine.
White has a lot of skills when it comes to playing in press coverage which is something the Ravens severely lacked during the 2015 season. He isn't afraid to get in the face of a wide receiver. White also has very good instincts which is also a help for the Ravens as the team only created six interceptions in the NFL last season which ranked last in the league.
132nd overall pick
A couple of spots later I selected the following player...
Dillon was a very versatile player in the secondary for West Virginia as he played free safety, strong safety and was very active on special teams as he has been used as a punt returner. Dillon's athleticism is very intriguing as he has the ability to help in man coverage against slot receivers. Dillon in his rookie season could serve as a steady backup if Eric Weddle or Lardarius Webb are not available at either safety spot.
134th overall pick
With the 134th selection, I went towards adding a player on offense for the first time in this mock draft.
Benenoch at 6'5 weighing 305 pounds is the perfect player for the Ravens zone blocking scheme as he is versatile being able to play tackle and guard. He has long enough arms to be a backup left tackle to Eugene Monroe which could very well be enough to put James Hurst on the roster bubble. Benenoch is certainly a project if selected by the Ravens but his athletic ability has some upsides.
Benenoch played as a right tackle at UCLA so a possible transition to left tackle as a backup under the Ravens if the situation presented itself could be a hard one. But his potential is a reason to give it a try.
If you want to check out how the draft board went, click on the tweet below for you to see.