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Ravens News 2/28: Trade Avenues and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Lamar Jackson will be hot topic at NFL combine, but Ravens have plenty to do - Jeff Zrebiec

Have a handle on potential trade avenues to get more picks

The Ravens are set to enter this draft with a few major needs, not much draft capital to fill them, and significantly less margin of error than they normally have at this time of year.

The Ravens love to move around the draft. Just by moving back a couple of spots in the first or third rounds, they could acquire a few extra picks. Those decisions won’t be made until during the draft. The other avenue to acquire picks — and potentially open up cap room — is by trading players. Those conversations can be had in Indianapolis.

Is there a market for veteran safety Chuck Clark, who could ultimately be a salary-cap cut? Could a few younger players with salary-cap numbers that take a significant jump, like running back Gus Edwards or wide receiver Devin Duvernay, garner a good enough return to justify a deal? Would the Ravens consider moving young inside linebacker Patrick Queen before officially deciding on his fifth-year option? Queen is an ascending player, but it’s going to be awfully difficult to pay big bucks to two inside linebackers, and Roquan Smith’s deal is already on the books.

Trades can’t become official until the new league year on March 15, but the groundwork for deals can be laid in Indianapolis.

NFL combine preview: As Ravens head to Indianapolis, they need ‘clarity’ with Lamar Jackson - Jonas Shaffer

Evaluate QB market

If the Ravens do trade Jackson this offseason, their replacement could be an in-house call-up. Backup Tyler Huntley, a pending restricted free agent, had a solid QBR of 55.0 in 2021 before falling to 41.3 last season, when he dealt with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.

More likely, though, Jackson’s successor would have to be acquired — and propped up in ways that Jackson never needed to be.

The draft is one avenue. But the Ravens would have to wait until late April, and even then might have to move up in the first round to find a franchise quarterback-caliber option. Ahead of the combine, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis are all consensus top-10 picks. Florida’s Anthony Richardson, an athletically gifted if inexperienced prospect, could soon merit similar consideration.

Daniel Jeremiah’s Favorite Wide Receiver Prospect for Ravens - Ryan Mink

Jeremiah likes Boston College wideout Zay Flowers, a shorter-statured, but electric playmaker.

“Zay Flowers is an overall player I love,” Jeremiah said during a media conference call Friday. “The suddenness there I think would be a fun player to match up in that offense.”

“It’s one of those deals when you watch, gosh, he reminds me of TY Hilton, and then when you pull the numbers they’re like twins,” Jeremiah said. “I think [Flowers] is a great player. I think he is going to go somewhere into the late first into the early second round. We’ll see how he runs, but I’m a big fan of his.”

The reason why Jeremiah likes Flowers to Baltimore is because of that speed and elusiveness. New Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken talked about building the passing game around “space players” and that’s what Flowers can create. Plus, with as dangerous as the Ravens are on the ground, Baltimore needs speedsters to take advantage of big-play opportunities over top safeties creeping into the box.

“I think complementing that with speed is always the way to go [for the Ravens],” Jeremiah said. “Where you can hit a slant and somebody can go. You just have to break one tackle where you can get on top of coverage because you have flat safeties because they have to come down and play the run. So I’m always going to lean towards guys that can really go.”

2023 NFL Draft: Breaking down the top 5 prospects at each offensive position heading into the combine - Chris Trapasso

Wide receiver

1. Quentin Johnston, TCU (9)

T2. Jordan Addison, USC (12)

T2. Zay Flowers, Boston College (42)

T4. Jayden Reed, Michigan State (175)

T4. Parker Washington, Penn State (215)

Johnston has some awkward movements because of his height and long legs. On film I saw not just a vertical weapon but a gazelle in the open field not exactly easy to corral and bring to the turf. Addison is a less-lanky DeVonta Smith. Does everything well. Doesn’t have an imposing frame — which is fine in today’s NFL. Flowers is dynamite, and he’s short not small at 5-9 and 182 pounds. If he was a little taller, he’d be a locked-in top-half-of-the-first-round selection. He’s sudden, wins routeinly after the catch and plays bigger than his size in traffic downfield.

Reed was significantly held back by his quarterback play and the offensive line at Michigan State. He provides everything teams want out of an alpha receiver in today’s NFL. And talk about playing bigger than his size — Reed tracks the ball magnificantly and has the route-running savvy and pure athletic gifts to get open in the NFL. Washington is your D.J. Moore/Deebo Samuel WR in a RB’s body.

Ravens 7-round mock draft (Version 1.0): Addressing the biggest needs entering NFL scouting combine - C.J. Doon

Round 3, No. 86 overall: Penn State wide receiver Parker Washington

With the Ravens trading their second-round pick to the Chicago Bears for linebacker Roquan Smith, there will be plenty of anxious moments on Day 2 of the draft — especially if Baltimore passes on a wide receiver in the first round.

But fans shouldn’t fret about missing out on some of the top pass-catchers in this class. While it isn’t a highly praised group of wideouts, there are plenty of intriguing names who could still be available when the Ravens make their second selection.

Washington, a three-year standout at Penn State, is one of those players. Although he’s listed at just 5-10 and 212 pounds, he’s an exceptional athlete who posted some of the best SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness) testing numbers in the country as a high school prospect and finished his college career with an elite 71.4% contested-catch rate, according to Pro Football Focus.

Round 4, No. 125 overall: Ohio State edge defender Zach Harrison

With Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul entering free agency and 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh coming off a disappointing sophomore season, the Ravens could use some help at edge defender. Enter Harrison, a former five-star prospect.

Listed at 6-6 and 272 pounds, Harrison has the frame and strength to be an impact pass rusher at the next level — if he can take advantage of his size. Although he never quite lived up to the recruiting hype, he was consistent throughout his career and is coming off his most productive college season, recording six sacks and 24 quarterback hurries on 256 pass-rush snaps.