Apr 13, 2019
Below are players I think the Ravens should target in each round. The Ravens have a ton of needs to fill going into next year, with the primary positions of need being receiver, left guard, center, defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker. I know the Ravens are going to be a run first offense, but we must get some talent at wide receiver. The idea of going into the draft with Seth Roberts, Chris Moore, and Willie Snead as the starting receivers is just downright ugly and scary. Lamar Jackson must develop as a passer and become more accurate. We have to assume and hope that he gets better, and we must get some playmakers on the outside to give Lamar a chance to succeed. Since this is a run-first offense, we need to fill the huge holes at left guard and center. Ronnie Stanley is solid at left tackle and Orlando Brown had a good rookie season and should get even better as a reliable right tackle. Marshal Yanda is a perennial pro-bowler and a lock at right guard. He may only have another couple of years left in the tank, so you can’t draft too many guards. Matt Skura and Alex Lewis are huge liabilities and weaknesses at center and left guard and don’t fit at all for the bully type of offense we want to build. The starting inside linebackers are down to Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young, who could get the job done after losing CJ Mosley to free agency, but it’s far from a lock or something you feel confident about heading into the season. The losses of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith leave holes on the outside as well. With all of the holes to fill, let’s dive in to some good options in each round:
1st Round – Pick 22
Clelin Ferrell, DE
Ferrell is a dominating edge defender who can do it all. He’s strong enough and has the awareness and instincts to set the edge and know where the ball is going. He can anchor well and doesn’t get pushed around. He can fight through blocks to plug the hole and is a very strong and solid tackler. He is also one of the most dynamic edge rushers I’ve seen this year (behind Bosa and Allen). He has an amazingly quick burst off the snap, especially for a man of his size. He has very quick and light feet to go along with the burst, and uses that combination of skills to win on the outside consistently. When he gains an advantage on the outside, it’s over, as his strength does not allow the defender to shove him off his feet and he has the unique ability to hug turns extremely well while running full speed. He also has excellent lateral mobility which allows him to stop on dime and then cut inside, where he usually displays a beautiful inside swim move to finish his man off. He’s a true playmaker and can do it all.
I have Ferrell as a top 5 talent on my draft board and while I think it’s unlikely that he falls to 22, I think there’s a slim chance that it could happen. If he does, it’s a no-brainer. Not only is he an amazing talent, but he fills a huge need after losing Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith.
Cody Ford, T/G
Cody Ford is my favorite lineman in the draft and one of my favorite players overall. His size and strength is ridiculous, but what’s really impressive is how great his footwork, quickness, and lateral mobility are. He can obviously handle any bull rush and can take on the biggest defensive tackles without a problem. But he also has the footwork, speed, and lateral mobility to match speed rushers. I only saw him get beat once or twice when watching tape (only because he leaned or lunged or got sloppy on footwork and that rarely happened). I’ve heard the rumor floating around that he’s not quick enough to play tackle and I just don’t buy it. I think he would completely dominate as a guard, but I think he’s also the best right tackle in the draft. He’s an excellent run blocker, as he can completely plow defenders over. His amazing speed in open field allows him to get out ahead in screen passes and when pulling as the lead blocker inside and he will plow his man out of the way. On top of being excellent in the ground game and great in pass protection, he’s a tough, mean, and nasty guy who brings it hard on every play. I want this man on my team and think he’s well worth a first round pick with all-pro ability and potential in the NFL. Ford is a perfect fit for a team like the Ravens who are looking for a mean and nasty lineman who can dominate in ground game and pass game. Plus, he blocked for Murray, whose running ability is similar to Lamar Jackson. Perfect fit for Ravens. It’s also a nice added bonus to have a guy that can play guard or tackle. If someone gets hurt or isn’t playing well at guard or tackle, it’s nice to have the flexibility to plug Ford in at any spot.
Dalton Risner, G/T
Dalton Risner is a nasty man. He’s big and strong and is a true mauler in the run game. He can plow multiple defenders out of the lane in the same play. He loves to bully defenders and make sure they know he’s the boss. There are so many times on tape where he puts guys on their back and then puts all his weight on top of them as he falls on top of them. And then he’ll just lay there on top of them and give them another shove as he stands up and stares them down. He gets great angles and has the strength to sustain blocks and seal off lanes. He has the athleticism to swing out and lead block in the open field. At the goal line, he will just drive defenders back and open up holes. Although he played tackle in college, I’m not sure he has good enough footwork or lateral mobility to match NFL pass rushers. He’s much better suited at guard where he can just bully and maul defenders inside and just get low, drive his legs, and plow ahead. He would also be excellent in pass protection as a guard, where he doesn’t have to worry about matching the speed of edge rushers. I believe he has the strength to handle interior defensive linemen and the transition to guard would be the perfect fit. When Eric DeCosta mentioned that he wanted to build a team around “nasty” offensive linemen and really “build a bully”, I think this is the exact type of guy he is talking about. I would not be surprised at all the see the Ravens take Risner. I want this man on my team. Every offensive line needs a mean and nasty guy like this.
Devin Bush, ILB
Bush is extremely fast and plays about as well sideline to sideline as you could ask for. He has the feet and lateral mobility to hug turns at high speeds as he bends and flexes to make sacks. He has a nice shoulder dip and can split the gap quickly. Amazing burst off the ball and can line up on the edge or shoot up the middle to create pressure in the pocket. He also has amazing instincts and play recognition and sniffs out where the ball is going on a consistent basis. He gives full effort on every snap, hits hard, and wraps up almost every tackle. He rarely misses a gap assignment and is there to plug the hole. Uses hands well at the point of attack to shed blocks and make plays. In pass coverage, he not only has the obvious speed to keep up, but he has some nice natural ability to stick with the running back on wheel routes, tight ends over the middle, and has even stuck with a wide receiver in man coverage on the outside. He needs to become a little more consistent, but there’s nothing that he can’t do and has all the potential in the world to be great and should be an instant contributor in his rookie year. He’s the perfect replacement to fill the void that CJ Mosley left.
Josh Jacobs, RB
Josh Jacobs really impresses me. He has an amazing combo of speed and strength. He uses his lateral agility and solid footwork to go along with great acceleration and burst. Jacobs also has incredible vision to go along with his size and speed. He runs hard on every play, always looking to lower his shoulder and keep his legs driving forward for yards after contact. He’s also a great receiver and can do a lot of damage in the open field, especially when he lowers his helmet and trucks over safeties. As a Ravens fan, I see the strength and downhill running ability of a guy like Gus Edwards, but he also has excellent speed, elusiveness and receiving skills to add to that. Josh Jacobs might be my favorite running back in this draft. He can step right onto any NFL team and make a difference immediately, with the upside to become even better. As a bonus, since he was in a timeshare at RB at Alabama, he has a lot more tread left on the tires than most backs coming into the draft. Jacobs is another player in my top 10 on my draft board, but RBs get devalued in drafts. With all of the needs to fill for the Ravens, they may be reluctant to spend the 22nd pick on a running back, but he is a game-changer and worth every penny. If we can somehow trade back, get more picks and still land a stud like Jacobs in the second round, it’s a huge win.
Garrett Bradbury, C
Bradbury is strong with the ability to handle defensive tackles in pass protection and on the run. He is also very quick and athletic, with great lateral mobility and is dangerous on screens and in the open field because of his speed and athleticism. He’s a consistent blocker up front and doesn’t get beat very often. He's the best center in the draft and can do it all in the passing and running game. With Skura being a liability against big and strong defensive tackles, and with the Ravens running the ball all day long, it makes sense to upgrade with a sure bet like Bradbury.
2nd Round – (Ravens don’t have a 2nd Round pick this year, but here are possible players we might target if we trade out of the first round):
Hakeem Butler, WR
Hakeem Butler is a monster. He has a huge frame at 6’6” with long arms and legs. He licks his chops in man coverage and will win a large percentage of balls in man coverage. Average acceleration, but great speed for his size. He’s a good route runner, with decent hands (does struggle with drops at times, but more due to mental lapse than having “bad hands”) and excellent with jump balls. He’s great in traffic, boxes out and uses his frame well, and has great release in press coverage. He’s also a playmaker and looks like a man among boys on many occasions. On top of the receiving upside, he also knows how to use his big body as an excellent blocker. He’s the perfect fit for Lamar Jackson and this Ravens run-first offense. If defenses load up the box and dare Lamar to throw, Butler is the perfect guy to toss up a jump ball to and let him go high point it and win. It doesn’t have to be a perfect ball in stride on a perfect timing route with Hakeem Butler. Just let him box out and use his big frame. If we draft Hakeem Butler in the first round, I have a feeling the Ravens will trade back to the end of the first round or even into the second round to make this happen and not at 22. I think they’re hesitant to draft anyone that isn’t known for having excellent hands after the misses they’ve had at WR over the years. I think the Ravens will be happy to take the chance on Butler if we can add another mid round pick to slide back a bit. I have a first round grade on Butler and if the Ravens take him at 22, I’ll be perfectly happy.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR
Whiteside is a big, strong, physical possession wide receiver and red zone beast. He boxes out defenders with his size and strength and wins a lot of jump balls and fades. He has amazing footwork, runs excellent routes, and gets excellent release. His great footwork and his release allows him to beat defenders off the line and get a step. He is also a great blocker. His 4.49 40 time at his pro day was impressive and looks a bit quicker than his game film shows, but that's a great sign. Acceleration is just average. He's not going to take the top off the defense, but he will make plays. He reminds me of a cross between Mike Evans and Anquan Boldin. Certainly not as physically gifted as Evans, but he has the size and physicality. He’s a great possession wide receiver and red zone target. This is another scenario where I think the Ravens could trade back out of the first round to accumulate more picks and fill a need like JAW fills.
Erik McCoy, C
McCoy was impressive overall against Clemson and Alabama. He’s strong and tough and can get push. He can handle defensive tackles 1v1. He has quick feet, is super athletic and is great at the point of attack. He doesn’t quite dominate in the power run game, but is a great asset in the screen game or when pulling outside, as he can use his athleticism in the open field to make blocks and open things up.
Chris Lindstrom, G
Lindstrom has decent size and strength but he’s not overwhelming by any means. He has quick and excellent footwork in the passing game with great pad level and lateral mobility, all of which combine to make him excellent in pass protection. He’s very consistent and always plays hard. He pulls quickly and is fast in space and at the second level. The one concern and downside to his game is that he doesn’t have elite strength and really struggles against big and strong defensive tackles who can drive and bend him backwards. He also leaves a lot to be desired in the run game where he should plow through linebackers and defensive backs easily and will either get knocked off balance or really not move them the way he should. If I’m investing a 1st or early second round pick in a guard, I need a guy who can make things happen on the ground to open holes up. He is excellent in pass protection, so it may be worth it for heavy pass teams. Even so, he could struggle with big and strong defensive tackles in pass protection in the NFL because of his lack of pure strength. I like him as a late second round pick at the earliest.
3rd Round – Picks 85 and 102
Darrell Henderson, RB
Henderson is a playmaker and can take it to the house on any play with his electrifying speed and elusiveness. He’s also a great receiver and route runner and has good strength for a smaller back, which allows him to break and spin out of tackles or pick up a few extra yards. He’s a mix of Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Darren Sproles with the home run ability on any play that this Ravens offense is in desperate need of.
Miles Sanders, RB
Living in Saquon Barkley’s shadow is tough, but Sanders replaced him well this year and was impressive. He’s shown great speed, elusiveness, patience, vision, route running and receiving skills. He’s also very tough as you see him lowering his shoulder when he could just run out of bounds. You also see him fighting and pushing forward for extra yards. I think he could easily go late second or early third round. He’s a talented back, however running back value overall continues to dip and good running backs are falling to middle rounds. His 4.49 40 time backs up the home run potential speed that we need.
David Montgomery, RB
David Montgomery is quick and elusive with great vision and instincts. He’s also aggressive and has the strength to break tackles and pick up yards after contact. Solid pass protection goes undervalued at times and Montgomery doesn’t slip up very often. His 40 time as 4.63 will cause him to slip a bit, but his lateral mobility, burst, vision, and aggressiveness will make up for top line speed.
Dre’mont Jones, DE
Dre’mont Jones is listed as a defensive tackle, but he is certainly never going to make it as anything more inside than a 3 technique lineman, which is perfectly fine. If he plays in a 3-4 scheme he would make a great end at the 5 spot. He is just a little undersized and not quite strong enough to handle big NFL interior linemen and fill gaps. Even so, he would still make a great defensive end. He has amazingly quick feet to pair with some of the best hands I’ve seen from a defensive lineman so far in this draft. He has an extremely high motor, great lateral agility, and a spin move that beats a lot of guys. Once he gets free, his burst is explosive and his pursuit skills are impressive. He’s borderline first round or early second round talent and potential that might slip to the 3rd.
4th Round – Pick 113 and 123
Michael Deiter, G
Deiter really impressed me in the game against Michigan. Up to this point, competition had been weak and it was tough to get a feel for how Deiter stacked up against good talent. He certainly thrived in the spotlight, as he must’ve racked up about 10 pancake blocks where he just completely dominated and put defenders on their back. He was fundamentally sound with great and quick feet, great pad level, good hands, and was fired up and intense. He’s a mauler and he’s nasty. He brings it every play. Didn’t see him get beat once against Michigan against the run or pass. He keeps his pad level low and drives with his legs. He doesn’t lean or lunge. Has great lateral mobility to keep up with quick defenders. Has the strength to more than hold his own against 350 pound defensive tackles. He’s quick and athletic when pulling on the lead block or in the open field where he is light on his feet and gets great angles. He has a high football IQ as well. There’s everything to love about Deiter and not much to dislike. Deiter is not getting enough hype. If the Ravens like him in round 3 and feel he might not be there in the 4th, I’m more than OK with him being selected earlier.
Germaine Pratt, ILB
Pratt converted from safety to linebacker just two years ago, so he is still raw as a linebacker and the fact that he plays it as well as he does with such limited experience is impressive. He’s got great speed and range sideline to sideline, which isn’t a surprise at all since he used to be a safety. He has excellent instincts and play recognition and is an great tackler. Great burst off the snap, hugs turns well on the outside, and gets pressure on the quarterback. Pratt also has the best cover skills you will find from a linebacker, as he’s seen on tape multiple times lining up on the outside on wide receivers and shuts them down. Yes, he’s a project and will take some work to get polished, but he has all of the tools you look for and I think he can be a solid starter in this league with a total skill set that is hard to find.
Joe Giles-Harris, ILB
Joe Giles-Harris isn’t very quick and he has limited lateral mobility which at times makes it tough for him to cover quick guys sideline to sideline, but he has almost everything else you could look for in a prototypical MIKE linebacker. The first thing that stands out with JGH is his IQ, natural instincts, play recognition, and the intuition to just know where the ball is going and to be there every down. He plugs gaps on a consistent basis, he’s disciplined, he takes excellent angles and he’s a great tackler. His motor runs hot and he plays with fire and intensity every play. He has a quick first step and shows a nice bull rush with the ability to dip his shoulder and swat with hands to beat his man and create pressure. He is coming off of an MCL injury which is somewhat of a concern, but all sign point to him being good to go and I will gladly take him at a discount if he slips because of that. I think he’s worth a late second round pick and if you can snag him in the 3rd or even 4th round, it’s a steal.
5th Round – Pick 160
Ross Pierschbacher, C
Great value in the 5th round. This guy has solid strength, is consistent and well rounded, and can be a solid contributor. While he’s nothing super flashy and his lack of athleticism caps his potential, he’s certainly an instant upgrade over Skura and you can land this guy in the 5th. Sign me up.
Te’Von Coney, ILB
Coney is flying under the radar. He’s fast with the ability to cover sideline to sideline and is also one of the best linebackers in this draft in terms of coverage skills. He has excellent instincts, stays patient and covers his gaps, and rarely misses an assignment or gets taken out of a play. He is great in pursuit and shows a lot of hustle. Instincts are impressive and allow him to get a nice jump on the ball and beat the ball carrier to his lane and also jumps routes and intercepts the ball. He’s a playmaker and has a nose for the ball as well. Overall, one of my favorite inside linebackers in this draft.
6th Round – Picks 191 and 193
Gardner Minshew, QB
Look, I know, the Ravens draft Lamar Jackson and he’s their starter and they want a backup who they can plug in with the same skillset and play style, but why not go with a flier on a more traditional passer whom you could from over the next few years? Minshew is really impressing me with his skillset and the things he does on tape shows me that he can be a legitimate starting NFL quarterback. Solid arm, great accuracy, can sling it all day, strong pocket presence, mobile, makes good decisions, has fire, and just seems to be able to do it all. Not sure why this kid is not really being talked about right now with 70% completions, 4,800 yards passing, and 38 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.
Brett Rypien, QB
This sounds scary, but I see some Tom Brady in him. From a skill set standpoint, he won’t wow you with his average arm and he’s small at 6’2” and only 200 pounds. But what he lacks in size and arm strength, he more than makes up for with his great accuracy, touch, progressions, pocket presence and decision making. He took a big step last year and threw for 3,700 yards with 30 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions with 67% completions. I’d love to have a more traditional quarterback known for his smarts and accuracy.
Overall, I know that the Ravens need wide receivers and offensive linemen desperately and it would enrage a lot of fans to see us go with a defensive player in the first round, but if an elite talent like Clelin Ferrell or Devin Bush are on the board and they fill a huge need on a defense that lost Suggs, Mosley, Smith and more, how can you pass that up? With that said, I do think the most likely scenario is that both of these guys are taken prior to 22. If Dalton Risner or Cody Ford are available still, I would love to have them and would be fine with them taking with at 22.
Assuming that Ferrell and Bush are taken and no other major players miraculously drop, I think that the most likely scenario is that Ravens trade back into the second round and scoop up more picks later on in the draft. In the second round, there are so many good players in that second tier of talent. Risner could fall to early second still. Josh Jacobs could slip due to RBs being undervalued. One of the two best centers in Bradbury and McCoy could also be available. At wide receiver you should still see Hakeem Butler or JJ Arcega-Whiteside on the board in the early half of the second. Given the high numbers of needs the Ravens have, they’re going to trade back unless an elite talent falls to 22 and I’m more than ok with that.
If I had to take a stab in the dark at a prediction on who we take first, I will go with Dalton Risner. One of my favorite players in this draft, he fills a huge need at left guard and has the mauling ability in the run game that we desperately lack. His mean and nasty personality is also exactly what this offense needs.