Predicting Ravens 1st Round Pick for 5 Years Straight

Oct 10, 2019

Prediction of Ravens First Round Picks for 5 Years Straight

2014 – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Pick #17

The Ravens needed major help at inside linebacker position after Ray Lewis retired following the 2012 Super Bowl title. Daryl Smith was solid, but didn’t have much tread left on the tires at 32 years old. Arthur Brown was drafted in 2013 to be the starting inside linebacker next to Daryl Smith, however he didn’t start in any games as a rookie and only logged 11 tackles and half a sack in 15 games played. It was too early to write him off, but he didn’t show you enough to make you think that you could pass up a pro bowl caliber inside linebacker like CJ Mosley. Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, and Odell Beckham Jr were all in the top 5 of my board and were taken by pick 12. Aaron Donald was also already selected.

Ravens could’ve used tackle help, however elite prospects Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan were already taken. Cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Kyle Fuller were top 10 on my board. Fuller was taken at 14, however Verrett was still on the board. Brandin Cooks was the next best WR, who had blazing speed and playmaking ability. He reminded me of DeSean Jackson and was certainly a viable and intriguing option.

When the Ravens were on the clock at 17, I thought there were only 3 players to consider: C.J. Mosley, Jason Verrett, and Brandin Cooks. I loved what both Verrett and Cooks could do for the Ravens, however CJ Mosley was my 3rd rated played in the draft and I felt he had All Pro potential. Mosley had some of the best instincts I’ve ever seen on tape. He sniffed plays out instantly and hit his gaps immediately. Once he got to the gap, he wrapped ball carriers up with ease. Mosley also showed impressive sideline to sideline speed to track down running ball carriers who tried to get to the edge. His coverage was adequate on tape, although not a strength. Overall, he has everything you could ask for in a franchise inside linebacker. When I watched his film, I remember thinking that this guy is the perfect replacement for Baltimore as the closest guy you were going to find to replace the legendary Ray Lewis. Once the clock hit the Ravens, I said that they were going to take CJ Mosley, and they did just that.

Today, C.J. Mosley is that perennial Pro Bowler I envisioned. Once he hit free agency this year, the Ravens tried to do what they could to keep him, but the Jets made him the highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Nobody dishes out that kind of dough for anyone that’s not one of the best linebackers in the league, and CJ Mosley proved himself to be worth top dollar. Mosley turned out to be that franchise player we drafted him to be, and I was glad to see my prediction and analysis be true.

2015 – Breshad Perriman, WR, Pick #26

This is the point where I admit to being wrong on some picks and I don’t always get things right. I predicted Perriman when we hit the clock at 26, and it hurts to see what became of this pick. Torrey Smith was just lost in free agency to the 49ers. Steve Smith was 36 years old and only had maybe one or two seasons left. The other receivers left on the roster were Chris Givens, Marlon Brown, and Kamar Aiken (ewww). The Ravens were desperate for a playmaking wide receiver and it was by far their biggest need. Every scout will say you need to take the best player on the board, regardless of needs, and that is very much true. However, if you have players in the same tier of talent, and the player that fills a need is only one or two slots behind another player on your board, then you take that player that fits your biggest need. And this is exactly what happened in this draft. Amari Cooper and Devante Parker were both ahead of Breshad Perriman on my board, however they were taken before the Ravens were on the clock at 26. Elite running back prospects Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon were taken and my top shutdown left tackle Brandon Scherff was scooped up top 5. The top defensive tackle Leonard Williams was also long gone. The only other player higher on my board was Duke Johnson, however he was in the same tier of talent as Perriman and we didn’t have a need at running back with Justin Forsett and Buck Allen playing well.

Breshad Perriman just made perfect sense. With Torey Smith leaving, Breshad looked like the guy who was going to come in with blazing speed of 4.2 forty yard dash time and long arms to go along with a 6’2” 212 pound frame. His acceleration and top line speed blew me away on film. Once he caught the ball, he took off and cruised past everyone. He looked like so similar to Julio Jones in so many ways. I admit that I got sucked in with the ridiculous combination of size and speed, and I just kept picturing his playmaking ability and potential. The problem is that I downplayed his bad hands and plethora of dropped passes. He double clutched and bobbled so many catches and then dropped easy balls as well. His routes weren’t super impressive, but I was ok with that, as I thought he just needed to be a guy to stretch the field and catch bombs and quick slants to take to the house. I thought he could be coached up and that the hands would come along. Lesson Learned. You can’t teach hands. You either can catch, or you can’t, and if you’re playing receiver in this league, you have to have solid hands.

Even though Perriman turned out to be a bust, I still think he was the right choice based on the players left on the board, given the talent and potential that he offered, and the desperate need we had at the receiver position. Go back and look at the players who were taken after Breshad at 26. The only two players picked soon after that who would’ve been solid pickups in that range were Byron Jones and Landon Collins. Our secondary was in good shape and it wasn’t a huge need. While it’s painful to see how bad Perriman busted, I really do believe it was the right pick at the time. We all have to chalk up a loss here and there, and I clearly missed on this pick, even if my prediction was correct. Lesson learned. Receivers must be able to catch footballs.

2016 – Ronnie Stanley, LT, Pick #6

Offensive line was a clear need heading into this draft. Eugene Monroe was set to be a cap casualty, as he was making too much for what he was producing. Kelechi Osemele was a top guard, however he was going to hit free agency and everyone knew he was going to get paid more elsewhere than we could afford to pay him here. Sure enough, both players went elsewhere and we had a glaring need on the offensive line, primarily at the left tackle position, where we were left with the scary idea of starting James Hurst if we didn’t land anyone in the draft. To make the decision easier, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, and Jalen Ramsey were all taken in the top 5. Most pundits had Laremy Tunsil as the highest rated prospect at left tackle and I didn’t hear anyone talking about Ronnie Stanley. I remember thinking that I must be missing something, but I trusted my gut and told everyone I knew that I thought the Ravens would end up taking Ronnie Stanley to fill their huge need at left tackle and do so with a Pro Bowl talent player. Laremy Tunsil was slightly shorter and had shorter arms. His footwork needed a little work and he struggled with quick edge rushers, as he tended to lean and lunge. With Ronnie Stanley, I saw amazing footwork where it looked like he was dancing half the time. He could keep up with any edge defender and his technique was sound. His tape was outstanding and I knew the Ravens needed to lock him up and fill the need at left tackle for the next decade.

On the day of the draft, Laremy Tunsil had a video leaked of him wearing a gas mask and bong looking high as a kite. At this point, I knew even if the Ravens were thinking about Tunsil, there was no way that they would touch him after this video leaked. Once the Ravens were on the clock, I thought for sure they would take Stanley, and they did. PFF recently ranked Stanley as the 5th best tackle in the league and label him as arguably the best pass blocker in the NFL. Stanley continues to get better and is already playing at an elite level. He’s everything I’d hoped he would be at the blindside. This prediction and analysis was on point and I’m sure the Ravens continue to be ecstatic to have this elite left tackle locked up for the future.

2017 – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Pick #16

The 2017 pick of Marlon Humphrey was by far my favorite prediction. This was the first year I became aware that the Ravens had a contest on their website for those who predicted the Ravens first round pick prior to the start of the draft.

After watching all of my film and fully evaluating the top 200 prospects, I took a look at my draft board and lined it up with the Ravens top needs. I figured that 3 quarterbacks would be taken (Trubisky, Watson, Mahomes) before 16. Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Jamal Adams, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Corey Davis, and Mike Williams all seemed likely to be taken prior to 16 based on hype and draft projections. I thought that Marlon Humphrey was flying under the radar and would be the best player left on the board at 16. He also filled a need for the Ravens, as Jimmy Smith always seemed to be hurt, and both Smith and Brandon Carr were right around the 30 year mark. With Antonio Brown and AJ Green in their prime in the division, the Ravens rightly knew that taking a top-rated cornerback was a smart move.

Marlon had everything you could look for as a cornerback. He had 4.4 speed, amazing footwork, size, physicality, and played hard on every snap. Every time I watched Marlon, I thought that he could compete with any wide receiver in the game and could step in from day 1 and be a playmaker. His passion for the game was evident all throughout his game film. He’s a competitor and hates to lose as much as he loves winning. There was everything to love and very little to not like.

I was a bit lucky on Humphrey lasting until pick 16 and also lucky that no other top prospects fell to 16, however there was a lot of skill and analysis involved in predicting who would be drafted before 16, which players might be left at 16, and which top players left on the board fit the Ravens needs the most. This thought process and exercise allowed me to make an extremely educated prediction that came to fruition. A few weeks later, I received an authentic draft day jersey signed by Marlon Humphrey, along with a certificate of authenticity and a draft day Ravens hat. I now have this jersey and certificate of authenticity framed and hung in my basement and it is one of my favorite pieces. Marlon Humphrey has become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL today. Every time I look at this jersey, I remind myself of not only the talent I have in player evaluation, but also the extreme passion I have to pursue this dream and eventually land a job in the NFL one day to help build a championship team. This jersey gives me so much motivation to continue in pursuit of my dream.

2018 – Lamar Jackson, QB, Pick # 32

I told everyone I knew prior to this draft that it was time to move on from Flacco and that Lamar Jackson was the best quarterback in this draft and would not only bring an exciting brand of football back to Baltimore, but the potential to win us a Super Bowl one day.

His ridiculous speed and ability to step out of the pocket and scramble downfield were the first things that caught my attention. His pocket presence and ability to feel pressure and move around in the pocket or roll out is what really stood out to me. He can make an average offensive line look good. Lamar could extend any play and forced the defense to contain and spy him at all times to make sure the defense didn’t get burned on a 30-yard scramble. This kept defensive ends from pinning their ears back and rushing the pocket like they would with the majority of quarterbacks.

Beyond his speed and pocket presence, he showed the ability to make any throw. He not only has a strong arm, but he can get the drop the ball in to the open receiver. Yes, he missed throws here and there and needed work with his mechanics and footwork to reach his potential, but he had all the traits needed to be a great quarterback, including from the obvious speed and playmaking ability on the ground.

When Lamar was on the board at 22, I thought for sure the Ravens would lock the pick in. When it was announced that they traded down to the 25th pick with the Titans, I was a disappointed, but thought they believed that none of the teams in the next 3 picks would take a quarterback, and that they could still get Lamar at 25 and gain a 4th round pick to trade down.

When the 25th pick came along and Lamar was still there, I was ecstatic and thought they’d go ahead and select Jackson. When the clock ran low and they announced that they selected Hayden Hurst, I was extremely disappointed. Not only did they not take the guy who I thought would be the best quarterback in this draft and the playmaking franchise quarterback for the Ravens, but they took a 25 year old tight end who in my opinion, was a 3rd round talent and graded behind Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert. My first comment after drafting Hurst was, “Mark Andrews is a better tight end and you can get either of these guys in the 3rd round. Why didn’t you take Lamar!?” (When we later landed Andrews in the 3rd round, it felt like prophesy).

I sulked on the couch after the Hurst pick and was prepared to watch another team take Lamar with one of the final picks in the first round. Even if nobody took Lamar in the first, I knew he wasn’t going to fall to the Ravens in the late second round. When the Eagles were on the clock at 32, I was getting ready to shut the TV off, knowing that they weren’t going to take a quarterback and I’d watch the second round the next night to find out what other team landed Lamar Jackson. All of a sudden, it gets announced that the Eagles traded the 32nd pick to the Baltimore Ravens. At this point, I knew it had to be Lamar Jackson. He was the only guy worth trading up for at this point. When the pick was official, I jumped off my couch in excitement and instantly received multiple texts from friends who were both happy about getting Lamar and amazed that I had called this pick months ago after watching film.

Lamar Jackson is one of my favorite players to watch. I bought tickets to his first NFL game and went with my dad. This turned out to be the day before my twins were born, so there are many fond memories associated with this event. Not only did I buy Lamar’s jersey and wear it to watch his first NFL game alongside my dad, but we waited for 3 hours after the game outside of the media exit in hopes of spotting Lamar and getting an autograph. He did finally come out after his postgame interviews. He was sick as a dog, as he had the flu and had to get IVs at the hospital the night before. Even as sick as he was, and considering that he could’ve been off celebrating his first NFL win or heading home to rest, he made time to sign autographs for fans. I held out my jersey and he took it and signed it with the Sharpie. I told him I’m a huge fan and to keep grinding and he was going to win a championship one day and he looked up and smiled. The guy loves his fans and has that hunger to succeed and win. You can’t help but love the guy.

2019 was the first year that I did not correctly predict the Ravens first round draft pick and broke the 5 year streak. I did have Hollywood Brown rated as my 2nd best receiver in the draft right behind AJ Brown and thought that his game breaking speed and playmaking ability would cause him to be the next DeSean Jackson. I did, however, think that the Ravens were going to stick to and build on the run-first offense and would want to find a big and nasty offensive lineman to fill the needs at the left guard position. My prediction was Cody Ford, with Dalton Risner neck-in-neck. It’s hard to argue with the talent and playmaking ability that Brown has shown, and he’s proven to be a staple of this offense with his ability to stretch the field, catch the ball, and take it to the house at any time. I’m glad I incorrectly predicted this pick, as the Ravens are much better off with Brown over a lineman. I’m looking to start a new streak with next year’s draft, but let’s enjoy this 2019 season first, as the Ravens win the division with Lamar, Hollywood, and Humphrey leading the way.