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What is the worst draft scenario for the Ravens and how should it be addressed?

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s clear that players such as Corey Davis, Mike Williams and Sidney Jones are near the top of the Ravens wish list. But what if none of the top players that fill the Ravens needs are on the board at the 16th pick. Here’s how it could happen:

Ravens Worst Case Scenario Mock Draft (First 15 Picks)

Team Player Position School
Team Player Position School
1) CLE Myles Garrett DE/OLB Texas A&M
2) SF Jonathan Allen DL Alabama
3) CHI Solomon Thomas DE Stanford
4) JAX Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
5) TEN Malik Hooker S Ohio State
6) NYJ Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
7) LAC Jamal Adams S LSU
8) CAR Leonard Fournette RB LSU
9) CIN Derek Barnett DE/OLB Tennessee
10) BUF Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
11) NO Quincy Wilson CB Florida
12) NE (via CLE) Mike Williams WR Clemson
13) ARI Sidney Jones CB Washington
14) PHI Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
15) IND Jalen Tabor CB Florida

The biggest key in this worst case scenario mock draft is that no quarterbacks are selected in the top 15. As a result, many of the top talents in the draft do not have the chance to slip to the Ravens. The Ravens were never going to get the chance to select Myles Garrett or Jonathan Allen at the 16th pick, and in this mock draft, they are the first two players off the board.

I have Solomon Thomas coming off next as he will go third to the Bears. While this may seem high for Thomas, the Bears are a near perfect fit. Thomas will provide a fantastic complement to Leonard Floyd.

Both of the top two running backs are selected in the top 10, as well as the top two cornerbacks, Marshon Lattimore and Marlon Humphrey. In addition, the top two safeties are off the board as well. This scenario inside of the top 10 would leave slim pickings for the Ravens, with five teams still left to pick before Baltimore comes on the clock.

In this scenario, Cleveland trades the 12th overall selection to the New England Patriots in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo. If Cleveland retains the 12th pick, Hue Jackson’s team would likely select a quarterback. New England is very unlikely to draft a quarterback with this pick, as reports have shown the team plans to extend Tom Brady for three to five more seasons. With the 12th pick, I have New England finally selecting a true number one receiver in Clemson’s Mike Williams.

In this worst case scenario for the Ravens, I am predicting a run on cornerbacks from pick 10-15, as four off the board. At this point in the draft, all of the top corners, Lattimore, Humphrey, Quincy Wilson, Sidney Jones and Jalen Tabor are selected by the 16th pick.

With the 14th overall pick, the Eagles get the outside threat they need to complement Jordan Matthews in Western Michigan’s Corey Davis.

With the Ravens coming onto the clock at the 16th overall pick, the top options on the board are John Ross, Cam Robinson, Reuben Foster, Jabrill Peppers and Taco Charlton.

While the Ravens need a wide receiver, Ross is not the type the team is looking for. Ross is almost a clone of DeSean Jackson. Ross plays the slot, but is purely a deep threat. If the Ravens draft Ross, the top three receivers on the team would be Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and John Ross, all of whom are purely deep threats with hands that can be unreliable. The Ravens need a receiver that provides contrast to Wallace and Perriman, as opposed to Ross who is very similar.

The Ravens could also look at Cam Robinson. With Ricky Wagner set to enter free agency, the Ravens could be in the market to acquire a new offensive tackle. Keep in mind that applying the franchise tag to Wagner would incur a $14 million cap hit, higher than that of Brandon Williams. If Wagner leaves in free agency, then the Ravens will need to find someone to replace him. Robinson is by no means a perfect prospect, but he is the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft class.

Taco Charlton has been mocked to the Ravens in various expert’s mock drafts. Charlton is a skilled pass rusher from Michigan, but he will need to transition from DE to OLB, a process that isn’t likely to be completed quickly.

To fill the opening at inside linebacker left by Zachary Orr, the Ravens could look to Reuben Foster, the best ILB in the class. However, ILB is obviously not the Ravens biggest need, as the Ravens have options on the roster to replace Orr. The Ravens would much rather take a WR, CB or pass rusher with the 16th pick.

Peppers doesn’t have a position to truly call home. Peppers is too small to play linebacker in the NFL, and doesn’t have the necessary coverage skills to be a reliable safety in the short term. The Michigan product comes as a high risk, high reward prospect. With time, Peppers could develop into a stat, but are the Ravens willing to wait?

None of the options in this scenario are particularly appealing with the 16th overall pick. Therefore, the Ravens should attempt to trade back if this scenario becomes reality. Trading back could very well prove to be a net positive for the Ravens, as general manager Ozzie Newsome will likely ask for a second round pick, in addition to swapping first round picks with whomever is willing to make a deal. The Ravens would thus have five picks in the first three rounds, a scenario that could prove rewarding.

In the second round, the likely top receiver on the board will be JuJu Smith-Schuster. The USC product compares favorably to Anquan Boldin, and could give the Ravens the possession receiver that the offense needs. But the Ravens need a partner with whom to make a trade, and four teams stick out as favorites.

The most obvious trade parter is the Houston Texans. The Texans are desperate for a quarterback, and with none having been selected to this point, Houston would have a chance to snag Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky. The Texans have the 25th overall selection in 2017 NFL Draft, and likely would need to move up if they plan to select the top quarterback on their board. If the Ravens move back to the 25th pick, players like Charles Harris, Takkarist McKinley and Tre’Davious White will likely all still be available.

Another potential partner could be the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a wealth of extra picks from deals in last year’s draft, and the team could put them to use in trades this year. In my scenario, Cleveland has traded its second first round pick (12th overall) to New England for Garoppolo, and only has one pick in the first round. Cleveland may look to trade back into the first round in order to grab more talent for a team in desperate need of it. The Ravens may not want to trade within their own division, but the Ravens don’t have to worry about the Browns contending in the coming season.

The third possibility is the Miami Dolphins. Miami truly needs a strong presence at inside linebacker. At the 16th pick, the best inside linebacker, Reuben Foster, is still available. The Redskins are almost assured to pick Foster if available. Thus Miami will be looking to hop over the Redskins who have the 17th pick. Miami has the 22nd pick, so the Ravens won’t have to move too far back.

Finally, the Ravens could look to trade with the Detroit Lions. Detroit has two major needs that could be addressed at the 16th overall pick. Detroit needs an offensive lineman if Riley Reiff leaves in free agency, and the Lions also need a pass rusher. Cam Robinson is a big upgrade over Ryan Ramczyk, and Robinson is likely to be gone by 21st pick where Detroit is currently slotted. Therefore, Detroit could have interest in moving up. Detroit could also have high interest in Taco Charlton who isn’t likely to be available beyond Tampa Bay at 19th overall. Or, the Lions could even look to give Matthew Stafford another receiving threat in John Ross.

With the majority of the top corners and pass rushers gone, as well as the top two wide receivers, this scenario truly is the worst case for the Ravens. However, Ozzie Newsome has many ways to turn the lemons handed to him into lemonade.