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Ravens News 4/25: Draft Confidential and more

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 TaxAct Texas Bowl Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The case for the Ravens drafting Maryland CB Deonte Banks in the first round - Jonas Shaffer

He wasn’t afraid to challenge receivers in college. According to SIS, Banks lined up in press coverage — an aggressive alignment starting about a yard off the line of scrimmage, designed to disrupt a receiver’s release — on 45% of his pass defense snaps last season. Only Alabama’s Eli Ricks (53%) had a higher rate among cornerback prospects in this draft class.

Even if Pro Bowls aren’t in Banks’ future, his arrival in Baltimore could offer the secondary much-needed protection in a critical area. The Ravens allowed the fourth-most completions of at least 20 air yards last season, according to TruMedia, and the league’s highest completion rate on those throws (52.8%). They were also among the league’s worst deep-ball defenses in 2021.

Banks’ elite speed projects as an effective deterrent. He allowed just three completions on 20 deep targets over his final three seasons at Maryland.

He has a high ceiling as a run defender — ESPN analyst Todd McShay called him the most consistent tackler in the cornerback class — but can be too passive at times. His technique in press coverage and anticipation in off-coverage will have to improve.

Still, Banks’ tools and temperament are unique. The Ravens’ defense could use both.

“I physically impose my will on people all game,” Banks said at the combine. “I press all day, and I’m real physical. I feel like that’s what separates me.”

Ravens 7-round mock draft: Trading back, filling biggest needs early, adding depth late - Jeff Zrebiec

Round 2 (No. 33, from Houston): Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

Forbes may not be for everyone, but the Ravens love instinctive and aggressive corners who get their hands on the football. Forbes fits that profile. He understands route concepts and uses his 4.36-second 40-yard-dash speed to break quickly on passes. His ball skills are outstanding. In three college seasons, he had 14 interceptions and returned six for touchdowns.

Round 3 (No. 73, from Houston): Jonathan Mingo, WR, Mississippi

There are perceived flaws or question marks with pretty much every wide receiver in this draft class. Mingo is not a burner and his best college season was last year when he caught 51 passes for 861 yards and five touchdowns. However, he’s big (6-foot-1, 220 pounds), has strong hands and is dangerous after the catch. He had 10 catches of 30-plus yards as a senior and two of 70-plus yards. That he’s also a willing blocker puts the cherry on top for the Ravens.

Ravens draft preview: Whether it’s safety or slot corner, there are opportunities in the secondary - C.J. Doon

After the Ravens traded veteran safety Chuck Clark this offseason, there are question marks at the back end of the defense. Will standout rookie Kyle Hamilton reprise his role in the slot or take more snaps as a deep safety next to Marcus Williams? Will star cornerback Marlon Humphrey play more often on the inside? Will a rookie start at outside corner? Will Brandon Stephens and Geno Stone have a role?

Middle: Illinois’ Jartavius “Quan” Martin

A five-year starter at Illinois, the 5-11, 194-pound Martin also played the “star” position for the Fighting Illini, rotating between the slot and single-high safety. He did his best work after moving to the slot as a junior, totaling 22 passes defended and four interceptions over the past two seasons. He wasn’t afraid to be physical near the line of scrimmage, either, earning a 91.0 run-defense grade last season, according to PFF.

2023 NFL Draft: Each team’s most ideal pick in Round 1, including the Bucs replacing Tom Brady - Garrett Podell

22. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston

TCU • WR • #1

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston is the most athletically gifted wideout in the draft at 6-3, 208 pounds while running around a 4.50 40-yard dash as well as posting a 40.5” inch vertical jump and 11’2” broad jump. The Ravens need more playmakers on the outside even with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. Johnston would be in a good spot to learn from OBJ and provide Lamar Jackson with a young, dynamic weapon after the catch and in the red zone.

NFL Draft 2023 Confidential - Bruce Feldman

How do you feel about this class of wide receivers?

QB coach 3: “I think this year’s class of wide receivers is really weak. Maybe only two of them go in the first round. I do think Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a great player, but is he a slot only? They never get pressed at OSU. Great hands. I like (USC’s Jordan) Addison, but I don’t think he’s a first-rounder. I like Zay Flowers.”

On USC’s Jordan Addison

WR coach 2: “I think he’s the best route runner in the class. He’s similar to Wilson. He’s really smooth and fast, but he’s really light. He needs to get a lot stronger.”

On Boston College’s Zay Flowers

WR coach 2: “I think Zay (Flowers) is a stud. He did everything for that team, and they had nothing around him. He’s quick and fast and will get dirty. It’s just he’s little, and as small as he is, I don’t think he can be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, and you probably can’t take him in the top 20.”

On Michigan State’s Jayden Reed

WR coach 1: “He’s a really twitchy guy who can make plays. He plays bigger than his size. I really like him. Great acceleration. He plays inside and out and didn’t have great quarterback play. Also has return value.”

Five-year NFL Draft analysis: Ravens move to top spot as Giants, Jets both rise - Brian Costello

1. Baltimore Ravens (2)

Pro Bowlers: 4

Best Pick: Lamar Jackson (2018, first round)

Worst Pick: Hayden Hurst (2018, first)

Baltimore is the only team in the NFL that has drafted an MVP in the past five years. Jackson, who won the 2019 award, is a big reason why they are on the top of this list. In Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown and Devin Duvernay, Baltimore has some other players who have racked up accolades. The Ravens also don’t have many players who could not get on the field. Almost all of their draft picks have contributed in some way.