Despite team owner Steve Bisciotti’s emphatic support of Joe Flacco at the recent press conference, the notion that the Baltimore Ravens should draft a quarterback in the first or second round round of the upcoming NFL draft has become a popular theme among some national pundits. Picking a quarterback early, potentially even trading up for one in the first round, would be a massive mistake at this juncture of the team’s trajectory. Unless, of course, they are finally ready to accept a long overdue roster rebuild.
Nevermind that they would be sacrificing a significant portion of the value that comes with a quarterback on a rookie contract by putting them on the bench in 2018 when most first round quarterbacks, including Joe Flacco, are starters as rookies. And forget the fact that there are more than a handful of promising college quarterbacks, perhaps better talents than will be available in the middle of the first round and definitely better than what will be available in the second round this year, all in the pipeline to be selected in the next few NFL drafts. The Ravens do not have nearly enough resources to both honestly contend in 2018 and build for the future simultaneously.
Some have said that Ozzie Newsome can leave Eric DeCosta no greater gift than a young franchise quarterback during the general manager transition. That is illogical unless DeCosta hand selects the quarterback, Newsome’s track record at the position is less than stellar. If he truly wants to set DeCosta up for success he should trade for an extra 2019 first rounder this year so Eric has a chance to select a pair of first round Hall of Famers in his first draft as Ozzie did.
However unlikely, it is possible a generational ‘can’t miss’ quarterback approved by DeCosta slips to within draft range for the Ravens. If that scenario occurs, and they pull the trigger, they must embrace a comprehensive rebuilding project. The odds of the Baltimore making a deep playoff run after selecting a quarterback early in 2018 are microscopic. The team has too many needs, and not enough assets to fill them.
After stopgapping their way to a perfectly mediocre record over the last five seasons, the wool has been removed from the eyes of the Ravens fanbase. Their margin for error this offseason is razor thin, and essentially non existent if they take a quarterback with one of their first two draft selections. If a quarterback is the selection, the front office should jettison every single player who is not either a Pro Bowl caliber foundational piece, still playing under their rookie contract or has a place reserved in the Ring of Honor.
Mortgaging the future for eight or nine wins is a foolish strategy. The league is designed for parity and those who attempt to break the mold are doomed to a prolonged downturn. Cap space is a valuable asset, and would be particularly valuable to support a young signal caller with playmaking weapons. If the Ravens chose a quarterback in the first or second round of the 2018 draft, they better embrace a thorough rebuild. All the way or not at all.