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Where should the Ravens focus in on the Draft?

Determining the area of the draft the Ravens should attack

NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combline Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The night of the draft fast approaches and the Ravens hold ten in the clip. It’s a good number to have when trying to hit a target but therein lies the problem. They aren’t trying to hit a single target, but rather many targets, with only a single shot for each. With each pick, they have to aim at a different target. The later in the draft the pick is, the smaller the target gets, making it harder to hit. So how do you make the target easier to hit? Well, you move closer and make the target bigger.

The Ravens are situated pretty well right now with nine picks in the first four rounds, all 150 or lower including four picks in the top 100 and eight in the top 140. That’s a pretty good first nine shots to have. But can they do better? And more importantly, should they? That’s what we are going to explore here. The different tiers of the draft and where the Ravens should put the sights on.

The tweet above is what sparked this thought experiment but we are going to go a bit deeper and split the parts of the draft up by talent rather than just the rounds. We’ll discuss the top 25 picks of the first round and call it Tier 1. Next, we’ll consider 25-60 Tier 2 for those first-round guys that slip out and those tweener second-round guys that just missed the cut on the big boards. Around the 60-90 area will be Tier 3, for the tried and true day two guys. Lastly, Tier 4 will be the rest of the day two pool of talent and the early day three guys, picks 90-140. This is the area where the Ravens currently have most of their picks, with five in Tier 4 and only one pick in the other tiers.

Tier 4, 90-140

The best place to start is probably the most likely. While General Manager Eric DeCosta has been rather coy about the Ravens moving around during the draft and whether or not they end it with more or less than 10 picks, it’s difficult to see predict anything different from the usual Baltimore plan. More likely than not, they’ll do some tiny moves, stay where they are for the most part and let value fall to them.

It’s not a bad year for that. With college players being gifted an extra year of eligibility, this draft is extra deep with what is essentially an extra class of seniors coming out with it. That loads up the later rounds, usually filled with a lot of questions, with guys who would have been third or fourth-round options in a normal draft. There are many intriguing names in this round that Raven fans have become accustomed to as the draft closes in.

The cornerbacks in this area are especially enticing for a team that has elite-level starters but has major depth to fill. Names like Coby Bryant, Montaric Brown, Josh Jobe, Zyon McCollum and Mario Goodrich are some names that have intrigued the Flock as of late. There are a lot of offensive line options for development at this point in the draft as well, with center options like Brock Hoffman, Cam Jurgens and Luke Fortner as well as some tackles such as Max Mitchell, Zach Tom and Abraham Lucas all possibly falling into this range of picks.

This is a very easy area for the Ravens to stack depth and develop guys without having to spend capital and find trade partners.

Tier 3, 60-90

This is an interesting grouping of players in this tier. You’re likely to find both players that will be your typical depth in this area, who might not see many snaps, while also having a possibility of finding players that can compete for starting jobs depending on their position. There are more corners to be found here such as Alontae Taylor, Tyriq Woolen, and Cam Taylor-Britt, three intriguing options that might be able to give snaps but certainly need time to develop as well.

There's a more serious group lineman here as well, both offensive and defensive. Cole Strange is a popular pick who could come in and immediately compete with Patrick Mekari for the starting center job. Rasheed Walker is another popular prospect who can fill the highly sought-after swing tackle role while also possibly being an option at left tackle should Ronnie Stanley not be ready to go. Defensive linemen Phidarian Mathis and Zachary Carter seemed poised to go in this area as well.

There are also some highly regarded edges that may slip in this range, such as Josh Pascal, Sam Williams and Drake Jackson. This is a very talented area of the draft that might not be too difficult to trade into for good depth contributors and maybe a possible starter or two.

Tier 2, 25-60

This is an area that the Ravens could trade back into from 14. Filled with good and great, maybe not elite level, players, there are plenty of Day 1 starters at all sorts of positions. The corners of this tier include Kaiir Elam, a Day 1 outside starter and Roger McCreary, an inside-outside versatile guy who could immediately offer an 80% snap share. There also seems to be a high possibility of Andrew Booth Jr., an arguable top 10 talent in this draft, slipping to this range due to a lack of testing numbers and some medical concerns.

There is a ton of talent in this area outside of that position as well. Edge players such as David Ojabo, George Karlaftis, Arnold Ebiketie, Boye Mafe, and Nik Bonitto are all superb players who could range anywhere from filling roles such as run stoppers and third-down specialists, to possibly starting opposite Odafe Oweh. Interior pressure can also be found here with Travis Jones, Logan Hall, and Perrion Winfrey. Offensive linemen such as Trevor Penning and Kenyon Green could slip into the 20s while blockers like Daniel Faalele, Bernhard Rainmann, and Jamaree Salyer should be early-round two picks.

There are also some non-desperate need positions that can be had for good value. Off-ball linebackers to help out Patrick Queen, such as Nakobe Dean, Chad Muma and Quay Walker, will be drafted in this area. Plenty of wide receivers in this range with first-round talent, including Treylon Burks or Drake London, mightight slip. Or prospects Jahan Dotson, John Metchie, Calvin Austin, and Ravens Flock favorite, George Pickens could be at the top of the draft board. Safety options such as Dax Hill, Lewis Cine, and Jaquan Brisker should also be available.

Tier 1, 1-25

The most well-known group of guys. This is a fluctuating draft, more than ever. It seems as though no analyst can really agree on a top group of guys. Even the first 3 picks aren’t agreed upon. We could see guys like Kyle Hamilton, Derek Stingley, Sauce Gardner and Travon Walker all go as high as the second pick in the draft or fall all the way to the Ravens at 14. Will any wide receivers go top 10, top 15 or even top 20? Will the Lions take their future quarterback at two or will there even be a first-round quarterback this year? Nobody seems to be able to give a set-in-stone answer. A wide receiver likely does go top 15 and there are probably multiple first-round quarterbacks, though nobody knows where the run will start.

All this goes to show the violent tempest that is the top end of the first round. Because of this maybe Baltimore has a chance to make a move. Sneak into the top seven to grab Kayvon Thibodeaux and perhaps trade back up into the late teens to grab a Jordan Davis. There are plenty of interesting names to be had. The early tackle options like Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross would certainly take the stress off the questions at left tackle. Front seven players such as edge Jermaine Johnson, defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt and linebacker Devin Lloyd have all been heavily studied by the Baltimore community and would certainly give an immediate impact.

One thing is for certain: getting multiple picks in this range would cost a pretty penny and would give the Ravens multiple bonified starters from this draft.

The Verdict?

The best range for the Ravens to attack is that Tier 2 range. They hold pick 45 already, can likely pick up at least two more with a trade back from 14 and hold tons of ammo in rounds three and four for a trade into the 50s if they wanted. With anywhere from three to four picks in that range, they can fill a lot of the holes they have, including a reliable cornerback, edge players to pair with Odafe Oweh and help ease an injured Tyus Bowser back, getting younger on the defensive line or adding a playmaker at wide receiver to push the offense over the edge.

While Tier 1 would be nice, it’s a little rich, both for my tastes and likely Eric DeCosta’s taste. Tiers 3 and 4, while having nice depth and possible starter potential shouldn’t be enough to satisfy a team that is looking to chase rings for the next couple of years. With such a deep class coming out, pushing talent down the board, and with all the ammo the Ravens currently have stocked away, it’s a very good year to make everybody’s jobs a little easier and shoot away at some closer targets.