With the team off to an encouraging, undefeated start to the young season, the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff is focused on improving the team and earning a playoff opportunity in 2016. At the same time, the front office and scouting department is hard at work evaluating prospects for the 2017 draft.
After the first four weeks of the college football season, the 2017 draft class is shaping up into a bumper crop, especially if draft eligible underclassmen continue declaring early at recent rates. Quarterback, running back, pass rusher and cornerback should be especially deep positions. There is a ton of football left to play, nevertheless, the Ravens should be able to land an immediate impact player at a premium position, even if they do end up with a late draft slot.
An early guess - outside cornerback, interior offensive lineman and free safety will be the primary positional needs for the Ravens next offseason. They should also supplement depth at running back and defensive end. An introduction of the top college football prospects at these five positions...
Jalen Tabor, Florida - Lanky, agile man coverage specialist needs to shore up his tackling. Corralled an interception in both SEC contests this season.
Marlon Humphrey, Alabama - Redshirt Sophomore uses elite athleticism to dominate in coverage. In 19 games, he has accumulated 11 passes defensed, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 4 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles.
Adoree Jackson, USC - Very athletic player is fluid in coverage and has good ball awareness, but is still refining his technique. Electric with the ball in his hands, has a 100-yard kickoff return and 77-yard punt return touchdowns this season.
Desmond King, Iowa - Polished ballhawking corner brings return ability. Recovery speed is the only flaw in his game.
Tre’Davious White, LSU - Four-year starter can shadow receivers effortlessly and is an accomplished punt returner. Took an interception back to the house against Wisconsin.
Interior Offensive Line
Dan Feeney, Indiana - Four-year starter at guard with a nasty disposition. Has long arms, a strong punch and can play in any scheme.
Pat Elflein, Ohio St. - Strong, tough center. Average athlete has overachieved due to his intelligence.
Ethan Pocic, LSU - Tall and quick for a center. Adept at sustaining blocks and making blocks on the second level.
Mason Cole, Michigan - Former left tackle transitioned to center. Athletic and versatile, but can be bull rushed.
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan - Possibly the best college player in the land, Peppers has the versatility to play corner, safety or linebacker. Physical player with above average coverage ability has yet to record an interception in college, but returned a punt for a touchdown against Colorado.
Jamal Adams, LSU - Instinctive hitter who fills up the stat sheet, had 13 tackles against Auburn last weekend. Can cover tight ends or slot receivers.
Eddie Jackson, Alabama - Prototype centerfielder has awareness, speed and technique to excel in coverage, tackling is his only area to work on. After intercepting six passes last season, including two touchdown returns, has added another interception retuned for touchdown this season.
Marcus Maye, Florida - Aggressive athlete with ball skills. Grabbed an interception against Kentucky and posted eight tackles against Tennessee in 2016.
Budda Baker, Washington - Fast, smallish free safety is a reliable tackler. Made ten tackles against Arizona last weekend, has two tackles for loss on the season.
Leonard Fournette, LSU - Special back with power, speed and vision in the Adrian Peterson mold. Averaging almost six yards per carry with quality defenses keying on him this year.
Dalvin Cook, Florida St. - Explosive playmaker with elite elusiveness and breakaway speed. Broke out for over 400 total yards last Saturday after a slow start to the season.
Christian McCaffery, Stanford - Consummate playmaker produced over 2,500 yards from scrimmage and more than 1,000 return yards in 2015. Projects as a Tavon Austin-type multi-faceted contributor, his toughest test comes this Friday against Washington.
Nick Chubb, Georgia - Power and balance are his best assets. Quiet since a 222-yard, two touchdown season opener.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma - Physical, decisive runner tailor made for short yardage situations. Ohio St. bottled him up on Sept. 17th.
Malik McDowell, Michigan St. - Probable top-5 pick is a physical specimen who can play 3 or 5-technique. Displayed a high motor against Notre Dame.
Jonathan Allen, Alabama - Highly disruptive technician has followed up two productive seasons with 3 sacks, 2 pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a 75-yard interception returned for a touchdown in 2016.
DeMarcus Walker, Florida St. - Stout run defender plays his best in big games. Notched 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble against Ole Miss.
Nazair Jones, UNC - Fast rising redshirt Junior has ideal size for 5-tech in the Ravens scheme.