ESPN’s Todd McShay put out his Mock Draft 2.0 on Wednesday. With the 16th overall pick, McShay has the Ravens selecting Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell. McShay wrote the following analysis for the pick, “McDowell is arguably the best interior pass-rusher in this class. He didn't play with the same passion and toughness this season, which could cause him to slip a bit. But if you trust your defensive coaching staff and locker room to develop him and keep him motivated, McDowell could be a steal at this point in the first round. Another intriguing option is Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, given the Harbaugh connection and the Ravens' need at safety.”
Yes, McDowell is arguably the best interior pass-rusher in this class. However, interior pass rushing is far from the Ravens biggest need coming into the draft.
McShay’s board played out poorly for Baltimore, as both Mike Williams and Corey Davis were selected in the top 10 (Davis at fifth overall to the Titans, and Williams at 10 to the Bills). Before the Ravens selection, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette were both off the board. In addition, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, Jamal Adams and Teez Tabor were all previously selected. Only two quarterbacks were selected ahead of the Ravens (Deshaun Watson at two to the 49ers and Mitch Trubisky at 12 to the Browns). The Ravens are likely hoping that a third quarterback comes off the board before the 16th pick in order to increase the odds of the Ravens getting the players at the top of their board.
Instead of selecting McDowell, the Ravens would have been much better looking to Florida CB Quincy Wilson, Alabama OT Cam Robinson, Michigan LB/S Jabrill Peppers, Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, or the best pick given this scenario, Washington CB Sidney Jones.
Between the top two remaining cornerbacks, Wilson and Jones, Wilson comes with a higher ceiling, but Jones has a much higher floor. Wilson is a near clone of Jimmy Smith with slightly better ball skills. But if the Ravens selected Wilson, the outside corners would lack the quickness to stay with the quicker and shiftier receivers that roam the AFC North (*cough* Antonio Brown *cough*).
Jones is much faster than Wilson, and is probably a better cover corner. The Washington product very much resembles the skill set of former Huskies star, Marcus Peters, and Jones doesn’t have any of Peters’ personality concerns. Jones needs a little more upper body strength, but compliments Smith better than the other options the Ravens have at 16 in McShay’s draft.
In addition, Jones is the best option in this scenario because he is the safest pick. Keep in mind, the Ravens are not looking necessarily to replace Jimmy Smith as the top corner, they are looking for a reliable option to line up on across from Smith, and one that can keep the secondary at a high level if Smith gets hurt. Jones does not come with an injury history, having only missed one game in his college career (that game being the very first of his career). Therefore, a safer pick at corner makes much more sense than someone with a higher ceiling, because it will take time to reach said ceiling. The Ravens need secondary depth sooner rather than later.
Malik McDowell is a solid interior lineman, he just isn’t the right pick for Baltimore. Instead, the Ravens should look west, and find Sidney Jones.