Perhaps the main factor that has prevented the Ravens from earning a place in the postseason recently is a lack of truly elite talent. Top-shelf players who can physically beat the opposition’s best head-to-head with the game on the line. Baltimore’s roster boasts plenty of quality depth and solid players, but currently not enough great players.
Fortunately, the Ravens have a great opportunity to correct this issue in the upcoming NFL draft. After observing the offensive portion of the scouting combine, it has become apparent that this draft class features outstanding depth at each offensive position. And many potentially elite players should be available in the second and third rounds.
It would be difficult to dream up a better draft scenario for the Ravens than the framework that exists this year. The team is already set at cornerback and outside linebacker, two spots where this draft class is relatively weak, which should prop up lesser prospects at these premium positions. It is also a historically deep quarterback crop, which could help the Ravens reap value as teams with a pressing need under center use their early picks at quarterback.
Dynamic receivers Deon Cain, Anthony Miller, Equanimeous St. Brown, D.J. Moore, Marcell Ateman and Auden Tate should be available on Day 2. Powerful running backs Rashaad Penny, Kerryon Johnson, Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman, Bo Scarborough and Kalen Ballage are also likely to be obtainable in the middle of the second round or later. Pass catching tight ends Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, Ian Thomas and Mark Andrews have been pegged as Day 2 prospects. Furthermore, offensive lineman Billy Price, Frank Ragnow, Brian O’Neil, Tyrell Crosby, Jamarco Jones, Austin Corbett and Braden Smith also carry second and third round projections.
All in all, the 2018 draft class is aligning perfectly for a Ravens team that desperately needs an infusion of talent at almost every offensive position. The offensive players expected to be available on Day 2 should represent excellent value. Now that the Ravens know they will not receive a third round compensatory selection, they should do everything in their power to acquire additional second and third round picks.
According to the draft trade chart, the sixteenth overall pick is worth 1,000 points, or roughly two second round and a third round selection. Hypothetically, the Ravens could negotiate an even better return when trading down if a coveted quarterback such as Josh Allen or receiver such as Calvin Ridley lasts until #16. Baltimore could also attempt to trade for another third round pick by combining several of their Day 3 picks. If the team is honestly in ‘win now’ mode, trading a 2019 draft pick for an additional Day 2 selection in 2018 is not a terrible idea either.
Surely, it would be tough to pass on a top rated defender if they are considered the best player available when they go on the clock in the first round, but the Ravens defense will never be legitimately dominant without a premier free safety. While the wide receivers, offensive lineman, tight ends and running backs remaining at Baltimore’s pick in the first round may be graded higher than the players expected to be selected on Day 2, recent history proves All-Pro caliber players can be unearthed at these positions in the second and third rounds of the draft.
Baltimore’s best opportunity to upgrade their depth chart to the level necessary to win the Super Bowl is to accumulate as many Day 2 draft picks as possible, and use all of them to fortify their offense.