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Ravens News 4/26: QB Landscape and more

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Baylor v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Eight Most Interesting Teams in the 2023 NFL Draft - Nora Princiotti

Baltimore Ravens (22)

The latest on the Lamar Jackson situation is … not much. He hasn’t signed his franchise tender, nor has he received an offer sheet to sign with another team, and as such he is not attending the Ravens’ offseason workouts. Odell Beckham Jr. signed two weeks ago, and there’s no indication that move has spurred Jackson get a deal done. Jalen Hurts’s new contract extension in Philly adds another data point with which to assess the QB market. But while Hurts’s five-year deal set a new record for average annual salary that could serve as one benchmark for Jackson, it didn’t include a full guarantee like what Jackson could be seeking.

So, as the stalemate continues, the Ravens are set up to pick at no. 22 on Thursday. The best bet is that they’ll keep doing what they’ve done all offseason: building the team like they expect Jackson to be there, which would point to taking a receiver or defensive lineman to fill their biggest roster needs in the first round. But what if one of the QB-needy teams we’ve already discussed decides they’d rather make a move for Jackson than gamble on a rookie? It would be the splashiest event of the entire draft. However unlikely that scenario might be, the overall quarterback landscape will be clearer by the end of the first round, which could help push Jackson and the Ravens toward resolution.

Baltimore Ravens big board 3.0: Examining potential options in Round 1 - Jeff Zrebiec

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (6th)

Ravens fans are probably bristling at the thought of the team using a first-round pick on a running back rather than a receiver. It also seems unlikely that the dynamic Robinson will be available in the 20s. However, if he does happen to fall, would he not qualify as the quintessential best player available for the Ravens? He’s considered one of the top players in the draft. He’s a powerful and elusive running back and looks just as comfortable as a receiver, making him a true all-purpose threat. With all three of the team’s current running backs eligible to hit free agency following the 2023 season, grabbing a talent like Robinson would make plenty of sense.

Nolan Smith, OLB, Georgia (11th)

After picking Odafe Oweh in the first round in 2021 and David Ojabo in the second round in 2022, the Ravens probably won’t be in the early-round edge-rusher market. Smith being available could change their minds. He had a modest 12 1/2 sacks in four seasons at Georgia and needs to add to his pass-rushing repertoire. There’s a lot of room to grow, but his talent and tools are off the charts. He might very well be one of the most athletic defensive players in the draft, and his football character gets extremely high marks. He even covered punts and kickoffs at Georgia. Sounds like a Raven to me.

The case for the Ravens trading down in the first round — and five potential deals they could make - Jonas Shaffer

With the No. 22 pick, the Ravens are stuck behind a handful of teams also expected to target so-called premium positions. The Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 17) have been linked to Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks. The Seattle Seahawks (No. 20) and Los Angeles Chargers (No. 21) have been linked to Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers and USC wide receiver Jordan Addison.

“What’s the difference in this class at 22 if I’ve only got 17 first-round players?” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said last week. “And most teams probably have 14 or 15, like, true first-round grades. There’s not a big difference between what you’re getting at 22 and 42. So I’d much rather have another pick or two later in the draft. … and just have more swings at it, get three or four guys versus two guys in the first two rounds.”

Son of rival or homegrown star? How the Ravens can address corner in first round - Jamison Hensley

The consensus top two cornerbacks in this year’s draft — Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez — are projected to go in the top 10. The rest of the top five corners — Porter, Banks and Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes — should get selected between picks No. 15 and No. 25.

According to ESPN Analytics, here are the chances of these cornerbacks being available at No. 22: Porter 5%, Banks 68% and Forbes 90%.

“I think there is a difference (after) the first two guys,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said, “but it’s not a massive gap.”

“He’s got that speed that you look for, the length that you look for,” McShay said. “He’s still kind of putting it together. I like his game and I like his traits. And the other thing about Banks is he’s the most reliable tackler.”

“I think we just find corners that fit what we do,” said Joe Hortiz, the Ravens’ director of player personnel.

Five years after the Ravens made a splash by drafting QB Lamar Jackson, might they do it again? - Walker & Wacker

“If they draft a quarterback, maybe in the later rounds, something that’s not threatening to Lamar,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said. “I think the most important thing that organization has to do is to make sure Lamar knows he’s their guy. With their recent move to bring in [wide receiver] Odell Beckham Jr. and pay him the money they did, I think that was the first olive branch in that situation. Utilizing an early-round pick on a quarterback would not be the wise move, and I don’t expect to see Eric DeCosta, who knows what he’s doing, make that decision.”

Kiper pointed to three possibilities for this year: Fresno State’s Jake Haener, Texas Christian’s Max Duggan, and Stetson Bennett, who spent the past two years playing under Monken at Georgia. Jeremiah offered two more names — Jaren Hall of Brigham Young and Dorian Thompson-Robinson of UCLA — as interesting developmental candidates behind Jackson.