With the 16th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Ravens are in a tricky situation. Just outside of the realistic range for the top elite prospects, and too early to reach on most wide receivers or tight ends. However, there is a chance for one of the top players, such as Florida State safety Derwin James, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, or Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to fall to the 16th pick for Baltimore. Out of those three, who would be the most ideal for the Ravens?
James would be an immediate contributor to Baltimore’s defense, despite the Ravens already having two starting safeties in Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. James is versatile and could even play linebacker next to C.J. Mosley in obvious passing situations. James has the ability to cover just about anyone on the field, including tight ends, which gave Baltimore’s defense fits last season. James is a rangy, but hard-hitting player on the back end of the defense. He could be a special player, and would be the obvious replacement for Weddle when his time with the Ravens comes to a close in the near future. It’s highly unlikely that James falls to Baltimore, but if he does, it would be an absolute no-brainer pick for General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
Smith is a bit undersized for a middle linebacker, but his elite speed is what makes him special. Smith has incredible sideline-to-sideline speed, but tends to struggle with getting off of blocks sometimes. He would benefit greatly from playing beside Mosley in the Ravens’ defense, who would allow him to run freely more often and make plays in the backfield. Smith currently lacks the size and ability to shed blocks for a Mike linebacker in a 3-4 defense, so it is unlikely for him to potentially replace Mosley if he signs elsewhere next year.
Edmunds, 19-years old, has possibly the highest ceiling of any player on this list. Edmunds is big, lengthy and strong. He has the ability to cover tight ends and running backs, which Baltimore lacked from it’s linebackers in 2017. Edmunds is viewed as the top linebacker in the draft by most, so it’s highly unlikely for him to fall even out of the top 10. His potential is sky high, and pairing him with Mosley would be a dream come true. If Mosley under performs in 2018, then Baltimore’s decision to move on from him would be much easier with Edmunds on the roster.
The ideal prospect, out of these three, for Baltimore is Derwin James. The Ravens have shown a knack for finding quality linebackers time and time again. While Smith or Edmunds would certainly be luxuries, it would be easier to find someone at their position. James gives Baltimore the heir to Eric Weddle and a nasty, intimidating, rangy presence on the back end of their defense, which they have lacked since the great Ed Reed. James could be the missing piece for the Ravens’ defense.