A Plausible Prediction.
Trying to craft a reasonable prediction of the Ravens draft this year reminds of what we hear from our winter weather forecasters that tell us "it all depends on the track of the storm." The storm of Lamar’s contract clouds analysis of team perspectives and team needs.
I’m convinced that the Ravens earnestly and genuinely want Lamar to be their long term QB. They’ve worked on an extension for two years now, showing the patience of Job with him. They made a top of the ‘traditional market’ (read: discredit the Watson deal) offer to him and publicly and repeatedly trumpet his importance to the team moving forward. They’ve given Lamar all the time and space he wants and/or needs to fully assess the market and his situation, hoping that at some point they can come together and make a deal.
The tell of the validity of their continued commitment to Jackson are the several voidable-year contracts they’ve recently made. This is a material change from past contract approaches, and demonstrates their recognition of the need to do things differently as regards cap management and roster construction in a ‘Franchise QB, 2d Contract’ era. And more importantly, of their willingness to do so.
Did the Hurts contract alter the current stalemate? Did the Ravens reach out to Jackson, point out the additional clarity the Hurts deal gave the QB market, and again express their willingness to negotiate in that neighborhood? Did a Lamar response provide a realistic expectation for a future contractual touchdown, or finally convince the team that their effort at making a long-term deal with Lamar is a fool’s errand and, however reluctantly, that it’s finally time to pull the plug on Lamar and move on. Who the hell knows! The Ravens showed last year how secretive they can be about draft day trades and intentions. Still, we’ve seen nothing from them inconsistent with their continued aim and willingness to stay the course with Lamar, and that’s my expectation.
Always subject to the vagaries of the board and the need for a trade partner, with the depth of good starter-quality CB prospects and the Ravens incessant desire for more picks, a trade down of 22 & 199 for 33 & 65 (Texans) or 36 & 69 (Rams) are credible scenarios. I’ve added 5th (175) and 6th (200) round picks as placeholder returns for traded vets or other draft maneuvers, and come up with this plausible prediction:
33/36 – Emmanuel Forbes, CB (the need at corner is for a starter-caliber prospect to play opposite Humphrey, not another depth piece like we’ve added in recent years. We need to aim higher and this year’s CB draft class perfectly aligns with that need. Forbes has elite instincts, ball & cover skills; yes he’s lean, but he’s an aggressive baller who many comp to Marcus Peters) (alt picks: Cam Smith, Kelee Ringo)
65/69 – Derick Hall, Edge (Our outside pass rush is consistently inconsistent. Oweh remains a question mark, Ojabo’s still an unknown, and the vets run out of steam as the season goes on. There’s too many good stand-up edge prospects in this draft for us not to get one. Hall’s lengthy, athletic, and shown pass rush ability, a three-year SEC starter and team captain) (Isaiah Foskey)
86 – Marvin Mims, WR (Our new OC has expressed a desire to get guys in space and use the whole field. Mims tracks the ball well, provides explosive, home run plays, and can also return punts and kicks) (Jonathan Mingo, AT Perry, Tank Dell, or your flavor of choice still on the board)
124 – Isaiah McGuire, DE (an improved pass rush from the down defensive line has been and remains a need; McGuire has good size, agility, power, and shown pass rush skills) (Yaya Diaby, Dylan Horton)
157 – Jalen Redmond, DT (provides interior DL depth given that Washington, Madubuike, and Pierce will all be free agents after this season; Redmond is powerful and athletic, shows quicks and some pass rush juice, plays with a high motor)
175 – McClendon Curtis, OL (Ben Powers is gone at LG and the guard prospect group is thin. Isn’t this what Ben Cleveland was drafted for? OL depth is always needed, and Curtis is the perfect developmental prospect. Big, athletic, NFL-ready body, has played both guard and tackle; small school prospect who’s raw and will need time)
200 – Mohamoud Diabete, LB (This pick can go in many directions, reflecting what we’ve done or still need to accomplish. Just like with the DL, our RB room looks bare after this season, but I didn’t see anyone I liked here. Diabete’s athletic, fast, aggressive, good on special teams, and can help fill out the LB room when Patrick Queen’s time with the team inevitably ends before or after this season) (Jarrick Bernard-Converse, DB, a plus athlete, experienced and versatile DB, plays safety and corner, special teamer)
This approach gives us a top cover corner, with DL and edge additions focused on pass rush traits and abilities, provides another big-play offensive play maker, OL depth, and adds team speed. Will it happen? That depends on the track of the storm.