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Ravens News 4/28: Draft Day and more

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 Oregon at UCLA Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ravens draft preview: Why versatile cornerback Trent McDuffie might be the perfect player to fill out a thin secondary

The Ravens covet versatility in their top defenders and that’s McDuffie’s calling card. He’s capable of blanketing a receiver on the outside but perhaps even more comfortable in zone coverage, which he played often and well at Washington. He’s plenty fast, powerfully built and Pro Football Focus described him as the best tackling corner in the class, meaning he could thrive in the slot or even at safety in some scenarios.

He started for three years in a program known as a factory for NFL defensive backs (including Peters) and earned rave reviews for his maturity and football acumen on top of his obvious athletic ability.

“We used to do a thing in Baltimore, and they still do it today, with red-star players,” said NFL Network draft analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah. “You put the red star on the guy that you just want in the building. Might not be the best player in the draft at his position, might not be the best player at his school, but he’s somebody that fits the culture. He’s tough. He’s intelligent. He’s competitive. To me, Trent McDuffie is a red star. He’s a red-star guy. Just everything about him, the way he plays, everything I hear about him from an intangibles standpoint. I would think he would be a good match. They’ve got bigger corners that they’ve had over the years, but I think he’s kind of a DNA match for how they play.”

Ravens Ready to Make Bold Move to Move Up in Draft? - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens have traditionally been willing to move back in the NFL draft to add additional picks.

However, they could buck that trend this year and move up to take a playmaker.

“The Baltimore Ravens, another team that has made calls about potentially moving up in the draft,” NFL Insider Ian Rapoport said.

Charles Cross, offensive tackle, Mississippi State

Analysis: At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Cross has the size the Ravens’ desire with offensive linemen. He is also athletic and adept with both run and pass blocking. Cross, however, is expected to be a top-five pick.

Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback, LSU

Analysis: Stingley is the highest-ranked cornerback in the draft, according to several experts. He is a smart player that rarely gets caught out of the position and has the athleticism to make plays on the ball. Stingley would satisfy a huge need for the Ravens, especially if Peters is still hampered by a knee injury that kept him out last season.

Predicting the first round, prioritizing needs and defining a successful draft - Jonas Shaffer

The Ravens prefer to acquire picks in the draft, but is there a first-round prospect they should move up to grab?

Thibodeaux, but only if he’s still on the board at, like, No. 12 overall. The draft isn’t a science; I’m not sure that Thibodeaux is that much more of a sure thing than the prospect who could be available two picks later. Parting with a second-round pick or a couple of third-rounders to jump into the top eight might secure the Ravens a potentially generational edge rusher, yes. It might also saddle them with a distraction and cost them another Day 1 starter.

Thibodeaux, with his athletic pedigree, is more likely to succeed than not. And concerns about his character should matter less in Baltimore, where the Ravens have built a strong culture with a blend of personalities. But considering the front office’s short- and long-term needs — building a Super Bowl-worthy roster and keeping costs low to help with a Lamar Jackson extension — team officials would have to stomach a headline-making gamble. How convinced would they be that the player they trade up for is worth more than the players they’re theoretically giving up?

My Guys: Top targets in the 2022 NFL Draft - Sam Monson

EDGE NIK BONITTO, OKLAHOMA

Despite his trail of pass-rushing destruction over the last two seasons, the pass-rusher from Oklahoma is being undervalued in a promising class of edge defenders. No rusher in this draft has as many decisive pass-rush wins as Bonitto does over the last two years, nor the win rate he has been able to post.

The 6-foot-3, 248-pounder is a little undersized and doesn’t have the same pedigree against the run other prospects do. However, there is nobody who has the pass-rushing resume he can bring to the table, and that’s still a handy trick to bring to the NFL.

T MAX MITCHELL, LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE

Pre-draft is often where the world falls in love with measurables and freakish athletes, where the world overlooks players who have just been excellent on the field in favor of those who appear more capable in shorts.

Mitchell’s 94.8 PFF grade ranked first among the nation’s tackles last year. Over his last two seasons, he allowed 14 pressures across more than 700 pass-blocking snaps. Though he will have to overcome being undersized and seeing a massive step up in competition in the NFL, he has the ability to stick on a roster and potentially develop into something down the line.

2022 NFL Draft sleepers: Day 2 standouts and Day 3 hidden gems to target - Mike Band

Kaiir Elam

Florida · CB · 20 years old

DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 47

Production Score: 74

Athleticism Score: 80

OVERALL DRAFT SCORE: 82

STARTER PROBABILITY: 62%

PRO BOWL PROBABILITY: 2%

Every team seeks a rare combination of size, speed and strength at the cornerback position. It’s difficult to find all three characteristics in one prospect, especially after Round 1. But this Florida product with NFL bloodlines — his father (Abraham) and uncle (Matt) both spent time in the league — boasts the coveted trifecta of traits.

At 6-1 1/2 and 191 pounds, Elam posted a 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine, and followed it up with a 37 1/2-inch vertical, 6.98 three-cone drill and 4.21 short shuttle at Florida’s pro day. All were threshold-meeting marks, according to our model. Elam is one of just five cornerbacks since 2018 to measure over 6-1, run a sub-4.42 40 and enter the draft with an overall score of 80-plus. The three who are already in the pros: Jalen Ramsey, Greedy Williams and A.J. Terrell. The other is Sauce Gardner, our No. 5 can’t-miss prospect in this year’s class.