In previous installments of this offseason roundtable series, first round draft prospects and free agency were discussed. Now with the scouting combine complete, the Baltimore Beatdown staff was asked to identify a few mid-round prospects the Ravens should target in the 2020 NFL Draft:
Willie Gay Jr. (ILB/OLB, Mississippi St.)
Gay turned in back to back elite seasons in coverage as an ILB/OLB for Mississippi St. He possesses excellent change-of-direction ability, good length, engages with blockers and sheds well. He lacks polish, and missed time due to injury and suspension, but Gay projects as a plus defender against the run and the pass. Any player who can matchup with slot receivers, running backs, tight ends in coverage, shed blocks and make plays in tight quarters gets a spot on my roster.
Chris Orr (ILB, Wisconsin)
Orr, the younger brother of former Ravens standout ILB Zach Orr, is the best player you’ve never heard of. Orr produced prolific numbers as a blitz heavy ILB in Jim Leonhard’s defense, notching 11.5 sacks and 14 TFL as a senior. Orr is short, but had good length and outstanding pop in his pads. He looks competent in hook-curl zone coverage, getting his hands on five passes during his senior year, which is more than media darling Kenneth Murray has in his three year tenure at Oklahoma. He projects as a “Mike” linebacker, who has prowess between the hashes, but enough range to make plays sideline to sideline. He was the biggest combine snub in my opinion, and is on par with the best linebackers in this year’s class. Orr identifies blocking concepts well, and when he hits opposing ball carriers, the play is over.
Anfernee Jennings (OLB, Alabama)
Jennings displays an outstanding football IQ, is stout at the point of attack, and has good length. He uses chops, rips, clubs and long arms blockers when rushing the passer. A three year starter for Nick Saban’s defense certainly leads by example. Jennings has an uncanny ability to clog throwing lanes and swat passes, batting down 16 passes over the past two years. While Jennings is a tad stiff, he plays with a plan, has definitive power in his hands pads and legs, possesses good length, and projects as a solid starter.
Frank J Platko:
Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
Many people, including myself, envisioned Jalen Reagor dominating the NFL combine and working his way onto the first round radar. Reagor’s measureables were solid but the combination of a “meh” showing in the 40-yard dash and lackluster three-cone finish could very well cause him to slide in what is shaping up to be a historically-talented draft class at the wide receiver position. This would be a terrific scenario for the Ravens, as he could be available in the second or third round. Reagor is faster on tape then his 4.47 speed would suggest. He flat out burns dudes in the open field and possesses quite a bit of untapped potential in my eyes. At TCU, he was primarily utilized as a deep threat and return specialist - but his athletic tools and skill set suggest he could be much more in the NFL. For a speedy guy, Reagor has a strong build, good ball skills and a 42-inch vertical leap. I’m still of the belief that he would be a great addition to this offense.
Josh Uche (EDGE, Michigan)
The Ravens were able to manufacture pass rush this past season despite a lack of established edge players, thanks in large part to the blitz-heavy scheme of “Wink” Martindale However, it’s apparent that adding more juice to the outside linebacker position is necessary, especially with the future of Matthew Judon still up in the air. If they look to do so on Day 2 or 3 of the draft, someone like Josh Uche could be a prime target. Uche is a talented pass-rusher who racked up a combined 15.5 sacks for Michigan over his final two collegiate seasons, doing so in more of a rotational role as opposed to being an every-down player. Uche’s exact fit in the NFL is unclear but what he lacks in size he makes up for with athleticism and motor. Uche has great get-off when rushing the passer and the athleticism to hold his own in coverage against many tight ends and running backs.If he falls down the board on draft night, Eric DeCosta should pick up the phone.
Netane Muti (IOL, Fresno St.)
Addressing the interior offensive line is quietly a pressing need for the Ravens this offseason, which only becomes more important if Marshal Yanda decides to retire. Netane Muti is an interesting developmental piece who could pay dividends as a mid-round draft selection. Whether or not he falls that far after posting a whopping 44 reps on the bench press at the combine remains to be seen but he possesses some intriguing traits. Muti is hard-nosed, gritty and aggressive, three qualities that the Ravens tend to look for in offensive lineman. In addition, he’s agile enough to pull in space and has great upper body strength. The biggest question with Muti is durability. His injury history is quite lengthy and he’s struggled to stay on the field over the past few years. Still, as a flier in the later rounds, Muti has upside and potential to become a starter down the line.
Van Jefferson (WR, Florida)
The Ravens fielded the least productive wide receiver unit in the league last season. That was partly was due to low volume, yet with Seth Roberts and Chris Moore set to hit free agency, the front office has a great opportunity to add talent that will enable a more diverse offensive attack. Depending on how the draft board falls, DeCosta may opt to double dip into the highly regarded crop of 2020 receivers.
Jefferson, one of the most polished receivers in the class, could be a value pick because a foot injury that requires surgery was discovered at the scouting combine. Jefferson’s father Shawn is the Jets wide receivers coach. Naturally, Van has been well schooled in the nuances of the receiver position. Lacking special speed or size, he is a tremendous route runner with excellent releases off the line and the ability to uncover at the top of the route. Jefferson is also shifty after the catch and adept at making contested catches.
Ben Bredeson, (IOL, Michigan)
Interior offensive linemen are a major need for Baltimore this offseason. Losing the battle for the line of scrimmage has been a significant factor in the two consecutive playoff defeats. Furthermore, Marshal Yanda appears to be on the cusp of retirement, which would leave the Ravens in a precarious position between their Pro Bowl bookend tackles. Fortunately, this class boasts decent depth at center and guard.
Bredeson has a strong pedigree as a four-year starter, team captain and All-American. With 6’5 315 pound size and impressive power, he is the quintessential mauler with to-the-whistle competitiveness. In pass protection, Bredeson displays a stout anchor and good awareness of stunts. Not the most agile athlete, nonetheless, he could be a plug-and-play mid-round blocker capable of executing his assignments in Greg Roman’s dynamic blocking scheme.
Alton Robinson (EDGE, Syracuse)
Edge rusher is another significant need. Generating pressure on the quarterback without blitzing and especially containing outside runs were defensive deficiencies in 2019. Ideally, the defense would roster five edge rushers, but only Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson are currently under contract. Regardless of his free agency decisions, DeCosta should select at least one prospect at this sought after position. And the Ravens have traditionally had much more success with Day 3 pass rushers compared to their returns on Day 2 picks.
Robinson could be the next in line. An All-ACC performer with 26.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks over the last two season. He checks the boxes from a size and athleticism prospective. Robinson has a quick first step, speed, strength and the bend required to translate his production to the next level. His inconsistent edge setting, hand usage and lack of counters can be corrected with better technique. Alton could serve as a situational pass rusher initially while the Ravens groom him into an eventual starter.
Devin Duvernay (WR, Texas)
In an extremely strong wide receiver class, Devin Duvernay will likely to slip to the 3rd or 4th round. Duvernay has game-breaking speed and arguably the best hands in the draft. He recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds at the combine, which was tied for 5th among wide receivers. According to PFF, he had the lowest dropped pass percentage of any Power 5 wide receiver during the last two seasons. Drafting Duvernay would give the Ravens another offensive weapon at a great value.
Bradlee Anae (DE, Utah)
With Matthew Judon’s future in Baltimore still uncertain, bolstering the pass rush should be a priority. Bradlee Anae is coming off a productive season at Utah, where he recorded 13 sacks. He also was impressive at the Senior Bowl with three sacks. He is a skilled player, who can beat offensive lineman with a variety of pass rush moves. He also has a great motor. Anae doesn’t have elite speed or explosiveness, but his other traits compensate for that. He could still be on the board in the 3rd round.
Logan Wilson (ILB, Wyoming)
Logan Wilson had a fantastic college career. In his 4 seasons at Wyoming, he had 409 tackles, 34.5 TFL, and 10 interceptions. He was solid at the combine running 4.63-second 40 yard dash and posting a 32 inch vertical. Wilson excels against the run and showed promise in coverage. In due time, he would be an upgrade at a position of need.