Well, that was fun.
After selecting LSU LB Patrick Queen with the 28th overall pick in the first round, the Ravens entered Day 2 of the draft with four selections under their belt. They ended up selecting four players but not before making a trade and surprising many at the No. 55 spot.
Here are some winners and losers from last night’s action.
Winner: “Best Player Available”
This is seemingly the strategy that Eric DeCosta and company have rolled with in this draft so far, at least for the most part. Selecting J.K. Dobbins at No. 55 and Justin Madubuike at No. 71 were certainly not need-based picks, but rather solidified an already strong group and project as more beneficial in the long-term.
Dobbins was clearly one of the best overall prospects remaining when the Ravens selected him and Madubuike was seemingly high on the team’s board, too. Additionally, the Ravens opted to draft a linebacker with the 98th pick - Malik Harrison - despite already investing their first-round pick at the same position.
Why? Because Malik Harrison had no business still being on the board and was definitively the top prospect still available. Even the selection of WR Devin Duvernay, despite filling a need at wide receiver, could be viewed as a BPA-type pick.
Winner: Ben Powers and Patrick Mekari
The biggest question of the Ravens offseason thus far has been obvious: how will the team replace retired veteran Marshal Yanda?
Many expected them to draft an offensive lineman early, like a Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan at the end of the first round. Ruiz was obviously taken by the Saints at No. 24 so the Ravens had no shot unless they sought to trade up. Then, in the second and third rounds, Baltimore passed on a number of guard and center prospects.
They didn’t address the offensive line until pick No. 106, which was the final selection of Day 2. Even so, the player they did select - Tyre Phillips from Mississippi State - is more of a developmental prospect than NFL-ready starter. What does this mean?
It suggests that the front office is confident in rising sophomores Ben Powers and Patrick Mekari, who are currently in the driver’s seats to start at right guard and center barring the health of Matt Skura.
Winner: Miles Boykin
Similarly to Powers and Mekari, WR Miles Boykin is another player who emerges from Day 2 as a winner for the same reason.
With the 55th overall selection, the Ravens were in a prime position to select the top remaining wide receiver on the board, Denzel Mims out of Baylor. They also could have selected Florida’s Van Jefferson and possibly could have traded down a few spots from No. 60 to select either player, too.
Then, after trading back 11 spots to No. 71, they opted to select a defensive tackle with a bevy of talented wideouts still on the board. They ultimately did end up addressing the position but not until the 92nd pick. Their patience in waiting to select a wide receiver bodes well for the prospects of Boykin and suggests the team is high on his potential.
Incoming rookie Devin Duvernay doesn’t fit the profile as a big-bodied “X” receiver, either, so Boykin will have a prime offensive role in 2020 regardless of Duvernay’s presence.
Loser: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and/or Justice Hill
Didn’t expect any of the team’s running backs to fall into the “loser” category after this draft but it’s the addition of Dobbins into the mix certainly creates a murky situation.
Even if Dobbins was the top player on the front office’s board, they rarely draft running backs as high as the second round. They did so in this case, though, despite already having a three-headed stable at the position. What does it mean?
Well, it could mean a few things:
1) The Ravens don’t envision Mark Ingram being on the roster after this season
2) One of Gus Edwards or Justice Hill won’t factor into the team’s long-term plans
3) They’re concerned about Ingram’s age and injury vulnerability
4) A combination of 1, 2 and 3
5) “The rich get richer”
It’s entirely possible that the Ravens carry four running backs on the 53-man roster in 2020 and in fact, that may even be the most likely scenario. However, it’s hard to imagine that Dobbins wasn’t selected with the long-term in mind, which doesn’t bode well for the futures of at least one of the RB trio - possibly even two of the three - moving forward.
Loser: Daylon Mack
Miles Boykin, Ben Powers and Patrick Mekari are second-year players who were seemingly given a vote on confidence last night. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Daylon Mack, who the same can’t necessarily be said for.
Mack wasn’t expected to contribute much in his first year but an injury sidelined him and essentially turned his rookie season into a redshirt one. To no fault of his own, he wasn’t able to carve out a role for himself on defense. Based on what’s transpired so far this offseason, that doesn’t appear likely to happen in 2020 and he could potentially be a candidate for the roster bubble.
The Ravens chose a defensive tackle with the 71st pick, despite more having more pressing needs and more gaping holes to fill. Instead, they went with the luxury selection and landed Justin Madubuike, Mack’s former teammate at Texas A&M.
Madubuike is a better prospect than Mack was in last year’s draft and figures to quickly leapfrog him on the depth chart at some point - if he hasn’t already on paper. Nevertheless, the team’s decision to draft Madubike with their first of four third-round picks suggests they aren’t too confident in Mack’s short-term nor long-term prospects.
Loser: Linebackers not named L.J. Fort
Entering draft weekend, the Ravens inside linebacker depth chart consisted of L.J. Fort, Chris Board, Otara Alaka and Jake Ryan.
To call this group uninspiring would be polite. Fort, who played solid football last season and earned himself a two-year contract extension, was essentially the only ““sure thing” out of this platoon.
Board is a special teams guy, Alaka was an UDFA last year but didn’t see the field and Ryan, who signed with the Ravens just last week, hasn’t played meaningful football since 2017. After the Ravens drafted two players at the position in the first three rounds, the stock for these guys is on the decline.
Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison and Fort are going to play the majority of defensive snaps at the position, if not all of them. Baltimore could either roll into the season with just these three players on the 53-man roster or carry a fourth linebacker, too.
Either way, at most there’d only be room for one of Board, Alaka and Ryan to stick around. The fact that the Ravens double-dipped at the position tells you all you need to know about how confident they were in their in-house linebacker talent.