Players I Would Target with Raven's Draft Picks in 2020 Draft
Mar 14, 2020
It’s crazy to believe that we’re only a month and a half away from the 2020 NFL draft. I know that most Ravens fans (including myself) still have that bitter taste in their mouth from the playoff loss to the Titans, and are itching for the NFL draft to arrive so that we can officially move on and get excited for next season.
Before jumping in, let’s take a look at the Ravens biggest position needs heading into next season. First, we really need to build a strong pass rush, as it just wasn’t there last year and the Raven’s number of sacks per pass attempt was bottom half in the league. Wink Martindale did a great job of being aggressive and using creative blitz packages to make up for the lack of pass rushing talent, but we must find some guys who can get to the quarterback and create some pressure. Matt Judon is also up in the air, as he’s expected to be franchise tagged. I like Judon, but I don’t think he’s the answer for what we need in a double-digit top-end pass rusher. He’s solid, but he’s not worth the money he wants. I would tag him and then trade him to Jacksonville to obtain Yannick Ngakoue, who is an elite pass rushing talent in the prime of his career at just 24 years old, and also went to University of Maryland. He’s the perfect fit. Ngakoue wants out of Jacksonville and also had the franchise tag slapped on him by the Jaguars. If we can trade away Judon and a third round pick (or Hayden Hurst) to obtain Ngakoue, I would take that instantly. This trade would also allow us to focus on drafting other positions, as we’d have our elite pass rusher locked up in a very weak pass rushing draft class.
The second biggest position of need is wide receiver. We drafted Hollywood Brown and Miles Boykin last year. Hollywood has proven that he has everything you need in a playmaking deep threat. He forces the defense to spread out and respect his speed. He also has excellent hands and brings in almost every pass that’s near him and has made some spectacular catches in traffic with defenders all over him. We can count on Brown as a starter and playmaker and he should only get healthier and better as time goes on. Boykin is someone I wasn’t a big fan of on draft day and still don’t really know that he can be that #1 guy. Yes, he ran an excellent 40 time and had an amazing combine, but his college film reflected someone who didn’t have great speed and couldn’t get much separation, and that’s what I also saw this season for the Ravens. I just don’t think we should be counting on him to be our future #1 receiver. Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, and Chris Moore all got a good bit of playing time this year due to our weakness at the position, but these guys are backup talent in the NFL and would not be starting for most NFL teams. We really need to upgrade at wide receiver and could use more than just one receiver in the draft. I think we should take at least 2 in the first 4 rounds and possibly 3 if the talent falls to us without reaching.
Offensive guards and a center are the next biggest need for the Ravens. Marshal Yanda is one of the best guards of all time in the NFL, but he just announced his retirement and we need to address the guard position now. Ben Powers could be a starting right guard, but I’m not sold on him yet. Bradley Bozeman also looked pretty good last year at left guard, but if he goes down at some point, we need a reliable backup as well. Matt Skura was solid at center before getting hurt, but he’s a free agent coming off a serious knee injury. Mekari did a fine job filling in for Skura last year and could possibly be the starter for the next few years, but we could use more talent and depth, especially if we don’t re-sign Skura.
The fourth and final biggest position of need would be the linebacker position. Our linebackers now are Patrick Onwuasor, Josh Bynes, Jaylon Ferguson, LJ Fort, Jihad Ward, and Chris Board. Yikes. Don’t get me wrong, they played pretty well most of the season after we shuffled things around, but we need some more talent in the middle of the defense who we can rely on for the future. Let’s get a field general at linebacker who can fly sideline to sideline, recognize and get to their gaps quickly, and wrap up tackles.
The Ravens were awarded with compensatory picks in the 3rd (#106) and 4th (#143) rounds. Eric DeCosta has a proven track record of either finding great value in these middle rounds or using them as ammunition to trade up into the first or second round and land the player he’s targeting. Marshal Yanda also announced his retirement, so selecting a future replacement gets a little more priority than it did prior, although is still less of a priority than a #1 WR and pass rusher.
Now that we have a good understanding of our needs, let’s dive into which players I think the Ravens should target with each pick in the draft. The guys I list below in each round are guys I feel that might or should be available in each respective round. As always, if someone higher up on my board somehow slips to either of these picks, the Ravens should jump on them first.
1st Round – Pick 28
• Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
Full disclosure. I have a man crush on Kenneth Murray. He said at the combine that Ray Lewis was his favorite player growing up and he still watches Ray Lewis highlights before every game to get pumped up (watch video above).
Murray has great size and strength with a super hot motor and aggressive style of play. He’s mean and nasty. His sideline-to-sideline speed is elite and he has an innate nose for the football. His lateral mobility and change of direction skills are impressive. Murray is an excellent pass rusher as well, with great burst, amazing bend and flex, and a shoulder dip that beats a lot of defenders and allows him to get to the QB. Murray is also solid in coverage. There’s not much he doesn’t do extremely well, although his angles are a bit off every now and then. Overall, Murray should be a dominant linebacker in this league and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that he fell to the Ravens at the end of the first round. He’s a top 10 talent on my board and there shouldn’t be any reason he falls that far, but if he does, we must scoop him up quickly.
I’m also not very high on Patrick Queen or any of the other inside linebackers in this draft, and see the rest as 3rd round talents. This makes Kenneth Murray’s demand for the Ravens even higher for me.
• Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Justin Jefferson has a great combination of size and speed (4.43 forty time at combine) to go along with good hands. He runs some nice routes and is tough and physical. He will go up and win jump balls and he’s not afraid to take a hit over the middle or scrap in the redzone. Jefferson was a consistent producer at LSU and he should continue to be a consistent producer in the NFL. Jefferson is the perfect complement to Hollywood Brown and has the playmaking talent that we are missing. Boykin just doesn’t have the separation skills necessary, and Jefferson can separate consistently. Jefferson is also a winner and has that strong desire to be great and win. Lamar and Jefferson will feed that energy to the rest of their offense.
• Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Tee Higgins is huge at 6’4” 216 pounds. He looks the part of a true #1 possession wide receiver. He’s physical, has a huge catch radius, uses his position well to box out, and wins in the red zone or along the sidelines in jump ball situations. He doesn’t have elite speed by any means, but his speed is respectable. He runs solid routes, beats press coverage well, is a very good blocker, and has reliable hands. The main knock on Higgins is that he doesn’t get a ton of separation, but he seems to make up for that with great route running and uses his position and size to go up and beat his man. I don’t like Higgins as much as Jefferson, due to my concerns of separation. He didn’t run the forty time at the combine due to lack of preparation time. He said his goal is to hit 4.4. I want to see what time he runs at his pro day. If it’s a 4.4, he's right there with Jefferson for me. If he runs a 4.6, I’ll be dropping him down my rankings a bit. If he falls into the 2nd or 3rd round due to slow time, the Ravens should take the excellent value.
• Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor has tremendous speed and acceleration to go along with amazing power. He also has excellent patience and vision, as he waits for a hole to open up, spots it right away, and then uses his acceleration and speed to take over from there. He also has great lateral agility and showcases his elusiveness in the open field by making defenders miss one-on-one. He’s a true 3 down workhorse and should get drafted in the first round after his ridiculous combine showing, where he ran a 4.39 forty time and excellent vertical and broad jump numbers. Taylor is the perfect fit for the Ravens, as he has the patience, vision, and elusiveness, to go along with home-run speed that we need. Mark Ingram is getting older and doesn’t have much left in the tank. He also lacks the juice needed to take the ball to the house once he gets some open field in front of him. While Justice Hill has the speed needed, he really hasn’t progressed as a running back between the tackles and certainly is far from a 3 down back. Jonathan Taylor checks all the boxes.
• D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Swift is a special running back. His combination of excellent speed and acceleration, elite elusiveness, and power throughout his entire body is astounding. He’s a playmaker whenever the ball is in his hand and he as the special ability to make something out of nothing and turn 10 yards into a 60 yard touchdown run. If that wasn’t enough, he also displays excellent patience and vision with some of the best lateral agility you will find. He certainly has that extra gear and has shown his ability to burst past the secondary. He’s a complete 3 down back and he has plenty of tread left on the tires, since they didn’t run him into the ground during his time at Georgia. I know that running back value keeps being deflated by NFL teams, but I have no issue with him being drafted in the top half of the first round. Elite talent is elite talent, and I will not drop him in my rankings just because he’s at the RB position. I would be absolutely ecstatic if the Ravens were to draft Swift at the end of the first round. Like Taylor, Swift checks all of the same boxes. The upside to Swift is that he has much more tread left on the tires. Taylor was run hard and took a lot of beatings. Swift might have a few more years more than Taylor left in the tank. Swift also seems to be a one cut guy who hits the hole quickly and gets upfield. He may even fit the Ravens run style a bit more than Taylor. I’m not sure if the Ravens will spend a first round pick on a running back, but if they do, I will be more than ok either of these guys.
Round 2 – Pick 60
• Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Aiyuk is super athletic, with a long and lean frame. He’s a playmaker and a solid deep threat since he has very good speed for his size and good tracking ability on the deep ball. Aiyuk is a solid route runner with excellent feet. He does need to improve against press coverage, but that can easily be coached. He has the knack for winning jump ball battles and red zone matchups. He’s also very elusive with good lateral agility and is very good at changing directions, which is probably why he was used as a kick returner for Arizona State. Aiyuk is a very intriguing prospect with a ton of upside. He gets a late first round grade and it’s very likely that he’s still on the board for the Ravens in the second round. This draft class is so deep with talented wide receivers and I want to take any of the upper tier talents that are available in each round. Lamar will love to throw it downfield to Aiyuk and will also love his ability to go up and win a 1v1 jump ball.
• Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Tyler Biadasz has good size and great strength. He is an excellent run blocker and that is well evidenced on film as he opened up consistent holes for the best running back in college football in Jonathan Taylor. Biadasz is a nasty farmboy who loves to maul through the defense. His anchor is impressive, he plays with great pad level, has quick feet and good lateral mobility. The way he sustains blocks and seals off running lanes is outstanding. Tyler is just an ok athlete and is not the fastest guy to the second level, but other than that, it’s hard to knock his game. He is also a very good pass blocker. Biadasz is a late first round talent who is flying under the radar and could be a really nice value pick in the late second round. With the Ravens having Skura coming off a major injury and only having Mekari to rely on at center right now, Biadasz gives us a major boost at center and gives us some much needed depth with Mekari, who can play guard or center.
• Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Gallimore is a bit undersized at 304 pounds, however he is athletic and plays with solid strength and has one of the hottest motors you’ll find. His main strength is his impressive get-off and pass rushing ability. He uses excellent and violent hands to shed blocks and has some really nice rip/swim/spin moves. Gallimore also has a unique ability as a big man to hug turns as a pass rusher. His hips look good and he shows nice lateral mobility. Instincts are impressive and he seems to have a nose for the ball. Gallimore is one of the most underrated players in this draft and could very easily be there in the second round. He provides much needed talent on the defensive line, as Michael Pierce will most likely not be back due to salary cap reasons. Gallimore would be an ideal 3 technique for our defense and it will be really nice to finally have an interior defensive lineman who can generate pressure in the backfield and get to the quarterback.
• KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
KJ Hamler is small in stature, but he is a playmaker with game-breaking ability on every snap. He has elite speed and acceleration and is elusive in the open field. Hamler has reliable hands and is a dynamic kick and punt returner. His routes need improvement, however that’s pretty common for a burner and won’t affect his ability to be a huge threat to a defense every Sunday in the NFL. If we can get Jefferson or Higgins as our #1 big body WR, then line up Hollywood Brown on the other side, with Hamler in the slot, teams are in trouble. You have to respect Hamler and Hollywood’s speed, which are very similar, and you have to find a way to try to load the box to stop the Raven’s potent run offense as well. Good luck.
• Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia
Marshal Yanda retired, so if there’s a top guard like Kindley available at the end of the second round, you have to lock him up for the future. Solomon Kindley is a monster of a man, checking in at 337 pounds. He is extremely strong inside, has a super solid anchor, handles very well at point of attack, and fairly earns the ‘mauler’ label. Kindley plays hard every snap, and that should not be underestimated. He does have pretty heavy feet, along with subpar balance and lateral mobility, which is tied to him being a bit overweight. If he drops 15 pounds and really gets his footwork and lateral mobility figured out, he will be a beast. He is pretty good in pass protection, however he does reach when he loses a step, as he has a hard time recovering. He also has a hard time getting to or doing anything at the second level. Kindley handled Quinnen Williams pretty well last year and has shown a ton of upside. Even with the concerns, I still think he’s a late first round talent who may fall to the second round.
Round 3 – Pick 92 and 106
• Logan Stenberg, G, Kentucky
Another great option as a Yanda replacement, Stenberg has great size with excellent strength, which allows him to dominate at the point of attack. He also has great footwork and balance and pulls well with his athletic build. He is excellent in the run game and opens up massive holes, gets to the second level quickly, and knows what to do once he gets there. Stenberg also has that nasty personality that you crave from your offensive lineman. His pass blocking is solid overall, however he does have slightly tight hips, which holds back his lateral mobility and ability to match speed rushers. Overall, Stenberg has a ton of potential and can step in now and be a contributor. If he maximizes his potential, he will be a monster.
• Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
Let’s go with one more Yanda replacement option. Bredeson has good size and solid strength. He’s a pretty decent athlete with great balance and he pulls quickly and smoothly. He gets to the second level with ease and is great in the open field and on screens. He’s a good blocker in both the run and pass game. His lateral mobility and anchor are just average. He gets beat by speed rushes on occasion and especially susceptible to the spin move. He does tend to lean and lunge at times, which needs to be corrected by moving feet more and keeping those hips loose. I really like Bredeson’s upside.
• Davon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State
Hamilton is one of my favorite and most underrated players in this draft. He seems to be flying under the radar, even though he had an impressive combine and led all defensive tackles with 33 reps on the bench. He has great size to go along with his excellent strength and has a hot motor. Anchor is solid, he sheds blocks well and plays with great pad level and balance. Change of direction and lateral mobility are both impressive. Hamilton also shows excellent instincts and always seems to be near the ball. He shows great burst and quick feet and he has some nice pass rush moves, which allow him to put constant pressure on the quarterback. I think Hamilton has first round upside and would love to be able to snag him here.
Round 4 – Picks 119, 124, and 143
• AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
It’s more likely that the Ravens wait at the running back position, as Ingram is still a solid starter and there are more pressing needs elsewhere. Also, running back values always seem to fall more and more each year and you can find a good back later on. Dillon only has decent speed and acceleration, but he put up very impressive numbers at the combine, which shows he may be a little quicker than I originally thought he might be. He is a HUGE running back, who would make a really nice change of pace back to Ingram. Hand Dillon the ball and make defenses wear down as they take a beating trying to bring him down. Think Marshawn Lynch. He’s 245 pounds and is mean and powerful. He also shows great vision and patience and moves well laterally to make defenders miss.
• Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is underrated. He had a solid combine performance and ran the 6th fastest 40 time (4.51 seconds) among all running backs. His game film backs that number up, as he showed many times that he has the juice to make big plays if he gets some space. Vaughn also shows great patience and vision with very smooth footwork. Not only does he have speed in the open field, but he also has excellent lateral agility and can make defenders miss routinely. Toughness is not a question, as he uses his low center of gravity to lower his shoulder and drive hard with his legs. He’s a strong dude. Pass protection is also impressive. Vaughn shows nice hands and receiving skills out of the backfield. He will be a very nice pickup at the end of day 2 and an absolute steal if he drops to day 3.
• Willie Gay Jr., OLB, Mississippi State
Willie has a ton of talent and upside. He can fly sideline to sideline and tackles well. He was a stud towards the end of the 2018 season and made a lot of impressive plays. In 2019, he got into trouble, got suspended for a good bit of the year, and then came back looking a little sluggish. At the combine, he looked like he had worked hard to prepare and put up impressive numbers. There’s certainly risk here, but considering all of the upside at a 5th round price tag, I’ll take him.
Round 5 – Pick 153
• Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland
Again, talented running backs seem to fall way too far each year. McFarland has home running hitting speed and acceleration, with great vision and good patience. He also has decent power for a 5’9” back and fills out well at 208 pounds. Not a 3 down back by any means, but he reminds me of Alvin Kamara Lite. I think he can definitely make a difference as a change of pace running back.
• James Proche, WR, SMU
Proche is a playmaker with great speed and great acceleration. He has quick feet and great lateral agility, which allow him to be elusive in the open field. His hands are excellent and he makes some great back shoulder and red zone catches. On the downside, he is undersized, has trouble with press coverage, and his breaks are sloppy. He’s raw, but has tons of upside and is a steal in the late rounds.
Round 7 – Pick 203
• John Hightower, WR, Boise State
Hightower has excellent speed (ran a faster 40 time than Jerry Jeudy and Jalen Reagor) with impressive acceleration. He also has reliable hands and looks to have the ‘it’ factor as a playmaker. His change of direction and cuts are instant. Footwork is on point and he’s a pretty solid route runner. Hightower also put on some weight and is now just under 190 pounds, which is respectable. He’s flying under the radar and will be available late in the draft. If we don’t get KJ Hamler in the 2nd or 3rd round, Hightower has the blazing speed and playmaking upside that we could use opposite Hollywood Brown (or in slot) to really stretch defenses. It’s hard to cover two speed demons.