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Mock draft: Ravens make no trades and acquire plenty of talent

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft is officially just four days away and for the Ravens, as well as other teams around the league, this year’s draft is one of the most highly-anticipated in recent memory.

GM Eric DeCosta and the Ravens are well-equipped to add an infusion of talent to their roster with a total of nine selections under their belt. Given the flexibility they have, there’s a very good chance that the Ravens will end up making a trade or two in some capacity.

However for the purposes of this mock draft, let’s assume that no enticing offers come DeCosta’s way and Baltimore opts to stand pat with each of their selections.

Let’s mock and roll.

Round 1, No. 28: Cesar Ruiz, IOL (Michigan)

There are many directions the Ravens could go with their first-round selection, including drafting a wide receiver, inside linebacker or pass-rusher. They could also surprise some and draft a defensive back like Grant Delpit or Xavier McKinney, should one of them slip.

However, the safest selection possible would be landing Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, the consensus top center in the draft. It’s certainly possible that Ruiz is off the board by the time Baltimore is on the clock but an early run on quarterbacks, offensive tackles and receivers would help push Ruiz further down the board.

This is the scenario I envision occurring in this mock draft and it will make Ruiz prime for the taking at No. 28. Ruiz is NFL-ready and has all the tools to become a high-level offensive lineman right away: size, physicality, power and technique. The Ravens can plug him into the lineup as a Day 1 starter at either center or left guard.

Not necessarily the flashiest pick but a no-brainer.

Round 2, No. 55: Terrell Lewis, EDGE (Alabama)

Acquiring the 55th overall selection in the Hayden Hurst trade could turn out to be a shrewd move on the part of Eric DeCosta. This draft class is very deep and having two second-round picks just five selections apart from each other is a great position to be in.

Maybe I’m higher than most on Miles Boykin’s future but I don’t see receiver as a must-draft position this early, especially given the depth of the position in this prospect class. Instead, how about a high-upside Alabama product like Terrell Lewis?

Lewis is a name who has been linked to the Ravens for quite some time now and the organization seems to be fairly high on him. He was limited by injuries a bit in college but has all the athletic tools to be an impact player at the next level. For his size (6-foot-5, 258 lbs), Lewis bends extremely well, while also possessing tremendous explosiveness and fluidity.

There’s some room for improvement in areas like play recognition and stand-up coverage but with the proper coaching, which he’ll get in Baltimore, Lewis can grow into a more well-rounded player while providing a pass-rushing impact in the short-term. Adding him to a defensive front that features Matthew Judon, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, Derrick Wolfe is too enticing to pass up.

Round 2, No. 60: Willie Gay Jr., LB (Mississippi St.)

Offensive lineman? Check. Edge-rusher? Check.

With another selection just five picks after landing Lewis, this a prime spot for the Ravens to address their biggest remaining need and land one of the top linebackers available on the board. There’s more than a few options likely to be there for the taking but either Malik Harrison (Ohio St.) or Willie Gay Jr. (Mississippi St.) would seemingly be the most optimal.

For my money, there’s a decent chance that Harrison will already be gone at this point but it’d be surprising if Gay weren’t still in the board. Harrison may be the better prospect but any comparison between the two is splitting hairs because Gay is not far behind.

Gay doesn’t have a boatload of collegiate experience to his name but was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school - and it’s easy to see why. He jumps off the screen any time you watch him play. He put on a show at the NFL combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, cranking out 21 reps on the bench press and posting a 39.5-inch vertical.

Gay is an athletic freak and extremely hard-hitter, two qualities the team currently lacks at inside linebacker. He has some issues with awareness and taking poor angles at times, which are worrisome in general but can be minimized on this defense.

The Ravens won’t need him to relay play-calling duties and Gay will be sandwiched between an elite secondary and top-notch defensive front, which will allow him to float, roam and make plays on the ball - which is what he does best.

Admittedly, there’s some risk involved in this pick. Gay is fairly inexperienced and needs some legitimate refinement in key areas. It’s possible taking him here is a bit of a reach, but I’d be willing to take a chance on his upside and potential.

Round 3, No. 92: Van Jefferson, WR (Florida)

It’s been a need-based draft so far for the Ravens and that should continue here with their first of two third-round picks. Eric DeCosta has stated that he feels the team can find a starter-caliber receiver in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft and a player like Van Jefferson fits that bill.

Jefferson, who turns 24 in July, is on the older side for a rookie and has some injury history to his name. Other than that, there’s nothing not to like about him as a prospect. The senior out of Florida is a crisp route-runner and pure technician at the position.

He may not be a burner like Henry Ruggs III or a contested-catch maestro like Chase Claypool, but Jefferson falls has a good mix of skills, athleticism and intangibles. He simply knows how to create separation, plays the correct angles and uses solid leverage.

Jefferson is an eerily-similar prospect to Calvin Ridley, who was drafted in the first round back in 2018. The Ravens had a chance to draft Ridley back then but can now land a near-identical prospect in the third round of the 2020 draft instead.

If he’s available at this spot, this would a great value pick.

Round 3, No. 106: Amik Robertson, CB (Louisiana Tech)

Having already addressed the team’s three biggest needs - wide receiver, linebacker and interior offensive lineman - Eric DeCosta can now play with house money a bit.

You’ve heard the expression plenty of times: “You can never have too many cornerbacks ...”

In a sense, this is true - and the Ravens have made it a point to build up their secondary in recent seasons. While cornerback may not be a pressing need, it’s an incredibly valuable position and if the board falls this way, adding a player like Amik Robertson with their second third-round pick would be a solid selection.

On paper, the Ravens are four-deep with starters at cornerback in Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young. However, only one player from this group - Tavon Young - is a true slot or nickel corner. Young is working his way back from a serious back/neck injury and has missed two full seasons in his four-year career thus far.

Therefore, adding some depth and insurance at the nickel spot is important. Enter Amik Robertson, who actually profiles and compares to Young quite nicely. Like Young, Robertson stands at 5-foot-9 and compensates for a lack of size with aggressiveness, ball skills and playmaking ability.

The Ravens have a recent history of drafting players from Louisiana Tech (Kenneth Dixon and Jaylon Ferguson) and met with Robertson at the combine earlier this year. He’ll provide depth at a crucial spot and add value on special teams, too.

Round 4, No. 129: Kenny Robinson, S (West Virginia and St. Louis Battlehawks)

Like cornerback, the Ravens are well-off at safety with a strong starting duo of Earl Thomas III and Chuck Clark, as well as capable depth in Anthony Levine Sr., DeShon Elliott and Jordan Richards.

However, with the long-term in mind, adding another versatile defensive back into the mix at this position makes a ton of sense. I briefly mentioned LSU’s Grant Delpit earlier in the article as a potential option at pick No. 28 and there’s a reason for that.

For as good as he is, Thomas isn’t getting any younger and has an injury history. If he were to miss any time next season, the Ravens defense would surely suffer as a result. They lack another safety with range and ballhawk coverage skills in the backend, which is why Delpit would be such a perfect fit in Baltimore.

Instead, the Ravens can settle for a solid consolation prize in Kenny Robinson. Robinson was an All-Big 12 selection in his sophomore year at West Virginia but was kicked out of school for an academic fraud violation. If the Ravens are willing to look past this, they’d be getting a heck of a talented player.

Robinson then joined the XFL as a member of the St. Louis Battlehawks and recorded 21 tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups in just a few games. Like Delpit, albeit to a lesser extent, Robinson is rangy and could thrive as a single-high safety with the proper growth and maturation.

Round 4, No. 134: Leki Fotu, DL (Utah)

Adding a tight end in the middle rounds has quickly become a popular prediction with Hayden Hurst no longer in the mix at the position. This would be a good spot to do so but I’m personally not too keen on the idea. I think the Ravens can find Hurst’s replacement on the undrafted market or get by with an in-house option like Charles Scarff.

Therefore, why not add another defensive lineman? Even after adding both Calais Campbell and Derrick Wolfe to the front seven in free agency, the Ravens could use an infusion of youth at defensive tackle. Brandon Williams isn’t getting any younger and rising sophomore Daylon Mack has yet to prove he’s a viable long-term option.

Utah’s Leki Fotu projects as more of a developmental talent than surefire starter but attractive upside as a mid-round option. At 6-foot-5, 337 Ibs, Fotu is an imposing force and possesses tremendous explosiveness for his size. He can penetrate fairly easily and has an impressive motor, too.

Fotu could compete with Mack for rotational snaps in Year 1 while learning behind Williams and Campbell, two tested veterans who can show a young player like Fotu the ropes.

Round 5, No. 157: Tyler Johnson, WR (Minnesota)

At this point in the draft, it’s very possible that the Ravens have already double-dipped at a position. However, with this specific mock draft, that has yet to happen - although the fifth round is a good place to make a luxury selection.

Landing Van Jefferson with the 92nd pick was good value, but selecting Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson here may be even better. If not for the loaded talent at wide receiver in this draft, a player like Johnson would certainly not fall into the fifth round.

Johnson had an extremely productive collegiate career, specifically over the course of the past two seasons. In 2018, he caught 78 balls for 1,169 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2019, his senior season, Johnson recorded 86 receptions, 1,318 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns - while also averaging 15.3 YPC.

Johnson would add a pass-catching element to the depth chart that other complimentary receivers on the roster like Chris Moore and Jaleel Scott have failed to do.

Round 7, No. 225: Chris Orr, LB (Wisconsin)

With their final selection in this draft, the Ravens could obviously go in a number of different directions. Normally in the seventh round, teams are taking fliers on players with the expectation that they may or may not end up making the 53-man roster, let alone actually compete for significant snaps in Year 1.

Last year, the Ravens took QB Trace McSorley in the sixth round, who essentially redshirted his rookie season as the third quarterback on the depth chart. This year, they could draft a player who may actually be ready for a somewhat prominent role right away in LB Chris Orr.

The younger brother of Zach Orr, Chris Orr had a productive career at Wisconsin and possesses a multi-faceted skill set at the linebacker position. He’s rangy, can blitz and has shown the ability to make plays in space.

“Wink” Martindale should be able to find a suitable linebacker platoon out of some combination of Willie Gay, Chris Orr, L.J. Fort, Chris Board and Otara Alaka.

Final Tally —

Round 1: Cesar Ruiz (C/G)

Round 2: Terrell Lewis (EDGE) and Willie Gay Jr. (LB)

Round 3: Van Jefferson (WR) and Amik Robertson (CB)

Round 4: Kenny Robinson (S) and Leki Fotu (DL)

Round 5: Tyler Johnson (WR)

Round 7: Chris Orr (LB)

Analysis —

Overall, this draft would be a major win for the Ravens. They found themselves an instant, plug-and-play starter at either center or guard in Cesar Ruiz, added multiple linebackers who can make an impact right away (Willie Gay Jr., Chris Orr, Terrell Lewis) and found a pair of high-upside receivers in Van Jefferson and Tyler Johnson.

Furthermore, with the way the board fell, drafting Amik Robertson and Kenny Robinson could wind up going a long way in suring up depth in the defensive backfield behind Earl Thomas III and Tavon Young.

Out of all of these selections, Leki Fotu is the only selection I wouldn’t necessarily be too excited over. However, even that pick represents good value in my opinion and exiting the draft without a defensive lineman seemed like a poor decision.

If there are any potential gripes with this mock, it could be waiting too long to draft a wide receiver or inside linebacker, failing to add a tight end and not double-dipping at a position like edge rusher or offensive lineman.

What are your thoughts on this mock draft for the Ravens? Share your comments below and join in the conversation! Be sure to stay tuned for much more exciting draft-related content here at Baltimore Beatdown in the coming days, too.


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