When the Baltimore Ravens are on the clock in this year’s 2016 NFL Draft, GM Ozzie Newsome and his scouting department will be under tremendous pressure to select players that can come in and contribute right away. With the Ravens missing the playoffs 2 out of the last 3 years, and sporting just a 23-25 regular season record since their Super Bowl victory over the 49ers, owner Steve Bisciotti has to be running out of patience.
Along with the Ravens faithful fan base, he has watched an unusually high number of draft picks play way below their draft grade/position. Players such as Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody, Matt Elam, and Arthur Brown quickly come to mind. Even last year’s top draft pick WR Breshad Perriman has yet to see field action in an NFL game. In fairness to Perriman he did suffer a knee injury in training camp, but the bottom line is that has not been able to contribute, and even more disturbing is that the team has been awfully quiet in regards to how well his recovery is progressing.
The Ravens cleared up a bunch of cap space by releasing several players (Daryl Smith, Chris Canty) and restructuring the contracts of others (Marshal Yanda, Jimmy Smith). They are currently $12.5 million under the cap, and are in talks with players such as WR Mike Wallace. No doubt Ozzie Newsome will also fill some holes after the June 1 cuts.
With the signing of Shareece Wright to a new deal, I don’t think that CB is the Ravens top priority. Putting pressure on the QB is still the best way for a team to improve their pass defense, which is why I think DeForest Buckner, the 6’7″ 290 pound DE from Oregon makes sense for the Ravens with the 6th pick in the first round. He is a capable replacement for Chris Canty, and he is built like an AFC North defensive end. If he is gone by the time it’s the Ravens’ turn to pick, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa would be a solid option. Bosa plays the run better than Buckner, but does not get after the QB as well. Buckner is also a better fit with the Ravens from a scheme-fit standpoint.
Hopefully the rookie QBs will shake-up this year’s draft and make the Ravens an attractive trade partner. It would be great to see the team trade back – even one spot to the QB needy 49ers – and pick up another 2nd round draft pick. That would present the ideal, best case scenario. But if the board holds true and there are no trades, here are 9 players that could be Ravens at the conclusion of the draft:
First round: No. 6 -DeForest Buckner, DE Oregon
Second round: No. 36 – William Jackson III, CB Houston
Third round: No. 70 – Le’Raven Clark, OT Texas Tech
Fourth round: No. 101 – Tyler Matakevich, ILB Temple
No. 127 – Spencer Drago, OG Baylor
No. 132 – Harlan Miller, CB NE Louisiana
No. 134 – Malcom Mitchell, WR Georgia
Fifth round: None (swapped picks with Denver in Gradkowski trade)
Sixth round: No. 182 – Justin Simmons, FS Boston College
No. 209 – Yannick Ngakoue, OLB Maryland
Seventh round: None (traded to Miami for cornerback Will Davis)