Seeing as we’re all quarantined and, if you’re anything like me, desperate for anything sports, I figured what could be better than yet another mock draft. As a bit of background, I am a lifelong Louisville Cardinal fan who migrated to the Ravens for Lamar. I’ve been impressed with this community for the last few years with the knowledge and passion it holds a feel like it’s high time I give something back. So while I’ve been locked in my house the last few weeks I’ve been obsessing (to an unhealthy level) over what this years draft should look like. I settled on using the Fanspeak draft simulator (no trades allowed for me but allowed for other teams) to make my own and see what came out of it, focusing on getting a difference making WR, filling the Yanda sized hole in the IOL, and getting a plug and play linebacker. Without further ado, here is my draft.
Pick 28: C/G Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Starting off I was a little disappointed. None of the linebackers, edge rushers, or higher end WRs fell to 28. The closest was AJ Epenesa that went a few picks before. Though perhaps its just my Cardinal obsession with keeping Lamar safe but that hole in the Oline is huge and Ruiz was the best IOL in the draft and the top value of the needs that this team has.
Pick 55: DL Marlon Davidson, Auburn
Davidson was overshadowed by Derrick Brown on the Auburn Dline, and rightfully so, but graded out as a plus pass rusher and run defender. With Wolfe under contract for only one year, having a bit of an injury history, and not having quality Dline depth, I wanted to take a quality player who could be used as a rotational piece this year and be groomed to start next year when Wolfe leaves. Looking at what was available, I figured I could overlook my desires at WR, LB, and Edge to take a quality player like Davidson.
Pick 60: LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State
I actually like Harrison more than the earlier choices like Murray or Queen, not necessarily for overall talent but because it was highly unlikely he’d go as early as the other two allowing me to address other needs in the first round. That gamble paid off as he was available here. A linebacker who is position flexible, can blitz, cover, and can spy mobile quarterbacks gives Wink a lot to play with and fills a major hole in the middle of the defense. Getting Harrison at 60 was making me feel pretty good about this draft.
Pick 92: WR Gabriel Davis, UCF
Remember when I said I was feeling good about this draft? Yeah, that didn’t last long. I was ecstatic to have such a deep WR class going into the 3rd round until remaining WRs started flying off the board. Four of the six picks before this one were WRs that I had my eye on. Davis was not a pick I wanted to make but when the pick came to me I looked at the board and at my needs and saw that there was about to be a major drop off in WR talent and if I didn’t take Davis right then and there there wasn’t going to be one who could help this coming year. I had to chose between taking a quality upside, yet flawed edge rusher or a quality upside yet flawed receiver. There were a bunch of edges along with TEs, OTs, and depth safeties available for the next few picks so I chose Davis. He’s a downfield threat and a bully to CBs. Routes need works and doesn’t have Hollywood’s raw speed but was very productive at UCF, though admittedly against weaker competition.
Pick 106: RB Zack Moss, Utah
Remember when I said I was feeling good about this draft? Remember when I said there were a bunch of edge rushers available? Yeah, that didn’t last long either. In the fourteen picks between 92 and 106, SEVEN(!!!) pass rushers went off the board! Anfernee Jenkins? Gone. Curtis Weaver? Gone. Jonathan Greenard? Gone. As this was unfolding I was pulling out what little hair I have left an wondering WTF was happening. It got to me and all I could think as I looked at the board was there are no players at the positions I need within twenty spots of where I’m picking and that the draft gods are laughing at me from on high. However, the best player available was Moss (I think the draft board had him ranked #86 but I cant remember as I’m writing this) and I remembered how ineffective our run game looked with Ingram not 100% against Tennessee. I’m usually hesitant about taking prospects with injury questions but Moss was incredibly effective at Utah even with his overuse. He could provide quality depth at a position that always has injury worries for a team that loves to pound the rock. He’s a thumper and would not be expected to carry the load like he did at Utah. At least not for a couple years.
Pick 129: S Julian Blackmon, Utah
At this point I’ve resigned myself to the fact that finding day one contributors is going to be a little harder to come by so finding developmental gems for this coaching staff to mold into beasts becomes the priority. Safety, edge and backup OT were still needs that needed to be filled and at this point I just had to choose one for this pick. I figured with the franchise tag of Judon, additions of Campbell and Wolfe, the (hopeful) progression of Ferguson and the drafting of Davidson and Harrison, the pass rush is already in way better shape than last year so I could focus elsewhere. The secondary, though arguably the best in the NFL, lacks depth at safety. Thomas and Clark are great and all but football is football and, you know, injuries. Enter Blackmon. At Utah Blackmon converted from corner to safety and it shows in his tape. He’s got the physical tools to be a quality starter he’s just lacking the experience. However, he doesn’t need to start for a couple years so learning behind Thomas and Clark and working with this coaching staff for a year or two could do wonders for his ceiling.
Pick 143: EDGE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
Yes, I finally took and edge rusher. Some of you are probably screaming at me by now but the way the board fell I just figured there were better options given the mistakes that I made. Taylor is similar to Blackmon in that he is a developmental prospect with all the tools to be a front line starter he just needs to put it all together. Playing as either a 4-3 end or standing up in a 3-4, he faired well against top end SEC competition but did so mostly due to natural physical gifts and not technique or discipline. I see Taylor as having similar trajectory as Ferguson: hone his skills for a year or two while working with the coaches and veterans and hope he can translate his physical gifts into on field production. Again, a project a not day one starter. Don’t like it? Sue me.
Pick 170: G Shane Lemieux, Oregon
This pick made me mad. The last of the OT’s that were even given a slim chance of being able to stick at tackle in the NFL were pretty much gone and I’d completely forgotten about replacing Hurst at tight end until there was a run on them between 155 and 165. Looking at the draft board there was just nothing interesting around. Plenty of RBs and maybe I could have gone for a depth corner but nothing caught my eye. Perhaps its still my neurotic fear from going to Louisville and watching how terrible there Oline play was for half a decade but to me you can never have enough depth in the trenches. Besides, I liked what I saw in Lemieux. He’s a smart, experienced, technically sound guard who is a force in the ground game. The pass game? Not so much. He will, barring emergency, sit and learn with the upside of an average NFL starter. But hey, it’s the 5th round so you take what you can get. I trust this coaching staff.
Pick 225: TE Stephen Sullivan, LSU
Sullivan was not productive at LSU. Sullivan is not a great in line blocker. Sullivan is just an inflated slot receiver. But Sullivan does one thing very well. Sullivan blocks in space. I am under no illusion that somehow Sullivan will be a Pro Bowl tight end. But with the ravens running game, Sullivan can carve out a niche that I think will allow him to be an acceptable third tight end. Whenever Lamar throws a screen pass, takes off and runs, or the running backs bounce outside, Sullivan can make downfield blocks that will allow Lamar and Co. to pick up the extra yards or, hell, take it to the house. Not a sexy pick and purely developmental but one that can be helpful if he makes the roster.
This draft did not go how I wanted. I think I got a little cute in taking Davidson at 55 and that hurt me at places of need for several rounds after that. I also think that if I’d not been lazy and allowed myself to dig deeper with trades, I could have sacrificed some of the draft capital for a little better quality in the first three rounds. I also am not as intimately familiar with the Ravens roster as I’m sure many of you are so some of these picks may not have even been necessary. So tell me what you think, I’m all ears. #Roastme