It’s never too early and it’s always fun to project an NFL mock draft, particularly on a day when the Senior Bowl will be broadcasting live from Mobile, Alabama. Draftniks such a myself simply live for this kind of stuff, and will keep a close eye on this game at 3:00 p.m. on the NFL Network. We’ll look for rising and falling players, to see who would look good in a Ravens uniform on April 30, 2015.
The Ravens has 6 picks in the 2015 draft, one in rounds 1 – 4, and 2 in the 7th. They got the extra 7th when they traded away Bryant McKinnie. The Ravens don’t have a 5th because they used it to acquire center Jeremy Zuttah, and they also gave up a 6th for a 7th rounder in a trade with the Browns in last year’s draft to acquire Michael Campanero.
The Ravens should get 3 compensatory picks due to the loss of Arthur Jones, Michael Oher, Corey Graham, and James Ihedigbo. Plus the Ravens should receive a 6th round draft pick from the Dallas Cowboys for the Rolando McClain trade. That should give the Ravens a total of 10 picks in this year’s draft. Since 1994 when the league started handing out compensatory draft picks, the Ravens have acquired 41. The next closest teams are the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers with 33. The Ravens have done a great job – easily the best in the league – in restocking their roster with compensatory draft picks.
I expect the Ravens to get a 4th, 5th, and 6th round compensatory pick from the league in the 2015 draft. Here is the direction that I think the Ravens are going to in the draft:
1. CB Marcus Peters – Washington. The 6′ 198 pound junior was suspended from his team November 6, due to arguments with the coaching staff. He’s not a bad guy, just very immature. The Ravens have a history of drafting immature prospects such as Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Smith. Peters is arguably a top 15 prospect, and would certainly represent a “boom or bust” pick for Ozzie Newsome and company. The Ravens like to draft “red star” players, particularly this early in the draft. They also like to draft senior captains, and Peters is neither a captain (obviously) nor a senior. However, the Ravens were a shutdown corner away from advancing to the AFC Conference Championship, something that is not lost upon Newsome/DeCosta and company. The much less riskier pick – Trae Waynes – will be off of the board way before the Ravens pick, and the best of the rest (Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, PJ Williams) are undersized and have a future at nickel back in the NFL, and don’t make sense for what the Ravens are looking for in this spot. The Ravens could pick Ekpre-Olomu here (he’s a senior captain), but to me it would be a bit of a stretch.
2. WR Justin Hardy – East Carolina. He comes in at just under 5’11 and 190 pounds. He is the FBS career leader in receptions, he is a senior and a team captain. Hands like glue, great instincts, and feisty competitor. In the Senior Bowl practices this past week he’s displayed another gear while the ball is in the air. He has also shown the ability to gain separation, particularly when he is getting in and out of his breaks. The only weakness I’ve seen is that he’s about 50/50 on jump balls, where his (lack of) height is a bit of a hinderance. Other than that, Ozzie Newsome turns in his draft card quickly if Hardy is still there at #56 in round 2.
3. DE Nate Orchard – Utah. A 6’3″ 252 pound senior, Orchard signed with Utah as a wide receiver. That was obviously before his growth spurt, but it also shows the type of athlete that he is. With Dumervil and Suggs getting up there in age, and with the probable loss of Pernell McPhee to free agency, this pick makes sense here. He’s had a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, and has really helped his draft status. Another name that we could possibly see here is Owamagde Obdighizuwa, a 6’4″ 266 senior DE from UCLA.
4. TE Maxx Williams – Minnesota. Only a redshirt sophomore, the 6’4″ 250 Williams looks an awful lot like Jason Whitten when your roll the tape. He is a bruising TE that does everything well. If he is gone by the time the Ravens pick, I still think they go TE in this slot, and take Jeff Heuerman, the 6’5″ 255 pound senior TE out of Ohio State. Heurman can flat out play, as his biggest problem in college was that the ball wasn’t thrown much in his direction.
4. RB David Cobb – Minnesota. A 5’11” 229 pound senior, Cobb has been another Senior Bowl standout during practices. He has good vision, and he is a downhill runner – traits that will endear him to coach John Harbaugh. He doesn’t do anything particularly great, but does everything well, including pass blocking. With uncertainty at the running back position (Forsett, Pierce), this pick makes sense here.
5. DT Marcus Hardison – Arizona State. 6’3″ 311 pound senior, is a very active and agile player. With uncertainty with age and cap space consideration along the defensive line (Ngata, Canty) coupled with injury concerns (Lewis-Moore, Urban), the Ravens could use some young moldable clay here.
6. CB Nick Marshall – Auburn. The Ravens take a shot here with Marshall, Auburn’s starting QB who’s attempting to make the transition to CB at the pro level. At 6′ 2″ 205, he has desirable length for the position. He’s also a very good athlete, and is a worthy gamble. Plus the Ravens need corners you know.
6. ILB Taiwan Jones – Michigan State. 6’3″ 258 pound senior, he’s an “old school” linebacker who has been the most physical player at the East-West Shrine Bowl practices. He’s also proving that he can be a 3 down linebacker, and with Daryl Smith approaching the end of his career, Jones is a fit here.
7. CB Byron Jones – Connecticut. The 6’1″ 196 pound senior missed the entire 2014 senior with shoulder surgeries. His career has been plagued by injuries, but when healthy Jones has shown the ability to play. Good size and speed, he tackles like a safety and he was also a senior captain.
7. P Kyle Loomis – Portland State. At 6’2″ 222 pounds, the senior punter absolutely booms the ball. The Ravens can save $2.5 million dollars by cutting Sam Koch, and would only absorb a $600k cap hit. Koch is a heck of a punter, but Ravens make a business move here.