This Week we are outlining the Ravens first round draft options. Yesterday I looked at option #1, Trade Up. Today Lets take a look at their options if they stay put with the 32nd overall pick.
If the Ravens stay put, I think there are about 7 prospects they could be targeting. These are in no particular order.
1. Keenan Allen, WR, Cal- Allen is a player I wrote that the Ravens might be interested in trading up for, it is also possible that they might be able to snag him by staying at 32. if they could manage that, He would be a complete and utter steal. Put it this way, barring an absurd tumble by a player like Alec Ogletree or Kenny Vacarro, Keenan Allen will, without a doubt, be the best player available by probably 10-12 spots. I have Allen rated as my no. 1 WR and no. 14 overall prospect. So, why would he be availiable this late? Allen has a knee injury and has been unable to work out for teams while Tavon Austin, Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson have shot up draft boards thanks to incredible workouts. Allen has become the forgot man and he could end up being on of the better first round picks in the draft. Allen would immediately start opposite Torrey Smith.
2. Manti Teo, ILB, Notre Dame- I know that Manti Teo is not the most popular man in the draft with Ravens fans. He has flaws, obvious and glaring flaws. So does every other rookie in the draft. Tavon Austin might be the most popular man in the draft and the dude is the size of the average 15 year old(seriously, Dexter McCluster had very simular college production and speed and has basically done nothing in the NFL). Every player has flaws, none of them are slam dunk picks. Beleive it or not, Teo is actually one of the safer picks in the draft. The reason for that being that worst case scenario Teo is a really good situational player. The low risk though, comes with a relatively low reward level because his ceiling is basically average NFL starter with serious leadership potential. Teo probably wont be the Ravens best option, but he almost certainly wont be their worst option. He would start from day one.
3. Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU- I might be alone here, but I am not a huge fan of Kevin Minter. He is a slightly shorter, slightly heavier, slightly slower player than Manti Teo. Minter is a liability in coverage (where Teo at least is passable) and his slow speed make him a liability on any play that isnt already coming right at him. Minter does not have the burst to be a serious pass rushing threat like Dannell Ellerbe. What he does do well is play the inside run. Minter is a space eater on the interior of an OL. The issue with Minter to the Ravens is that the other AFC North teams(you build a team first and foremost to win your division) all have weak run games. The Steelers dont have a starting calibre RB on the roster, the Bengals are starting a backup and the Browns have a young player who has yet to prove he is an elite level back. Where does Minter fit in a division that has 3 very good young QBs and a litany of talented TEs and WRs? Minter would do well in run heavy divisions like the NFC west, but in the AFC North, a former run heavy, now pass heavy division, He will constantly be out of place and over his head and will never be a 3 down ILB. I will support him as a player if the Ravens draft him, but I stand by my evaluation, Minter is a mid 2nd round prospect that will be drafted in the 1st.
4. Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama- Williams is a player I love. The Ravens have been linked to him a few times. Williams is capable of playing all three spots on the Ravens defensive line. He is supremely athletic and has potential as a pass rusher, though he does not have that ability right now. Williams is a space eater and a block occupier. The Ravens are likely to be starting either rookies or average talent players at both ILB positions so having a ton of block eating defensive lineman is a must for the Ravens to stay elite in the front 7. The Ravens focus all offseason has clearly been to put pressure on the QB, Williams would be an extension of that focus. He is very raw, but in a couple years he could be one of the top 5 DLs in the league.
5. John Jenkins, NT, Georgia- Like Williams, this is a continuation of the Ravens focus on the front 7 and another player the Ravens are rumored to be targeting. Jenkins is a nose tackle in the purest definition of the term. Jenkins is nothing but a gap consuming, block wrecking nightmare of a defensive lineman. He offers little pass rush, but a NT isn’t really concerned with pass rush unless the QB is running up the gut(like to get away from Suggs and Dumervil on the edges). Jenkins would be a very good pick and I have little doubt he would be a great pro player. however, the Ravens have made a concerted effort to get Haloti Ngata back to playing NT, so why draft a NT in the first round if you have the best player on your defense already playing the position.
6. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee- Justin Hunter has been getting more and more buzz around him. Some of you might remember me rating him as my no. 2 WR(behind Keenan Allen) back before the combine. I still have him in my top 5, though i have since upgraded Cordarelle Patterson(previously 3, now 2nd) and Tavon Austin(5th to 3rd). Hunter is a very good player though. He has some injury issues that scare me a bit because he runs so high and has knee issues, but he has the talent of a poor mans Randy Moss. Legit vertical speed, great at pulling down jump balls and decent route running fundamentals add up to hunter being a first round talent. depending on how the draft plays out, he will have a pretty good shot of being availiable for the Ravens. The only problem is that hunter isnt really a great possesion WR like Keenan Allen and Anquan Boldin. that would leave the Ravens with 3 WRs who are all pretty much vertical guys(Smith, Jones, Hunter).
7. Matt Elam, FS, Florida- The Ravens lost Ed Reed, now for the first time in almost fifteen years(Reed was drafted before Rod Woodson left), they have to find a free safety. They signed Michael Huff, but Huff is more of a short term solution than a long term one. Could Elam be the next Ravens safety? Elam is a pretty talented player in all aspect, except his size. to say Elam is 5’10″ is generous. in a world full of AJ Greens, Larry Fitzgeralds and Calvin Johnsons, can Elam ever be truly successful when opposing QBs know that any jump ball is going to be out of his range against a tall WR? Matt Elam had a lot of trouble in the game against Louisville playing against a very talented QB(Teddy Bridgewater, likely top pick next year). Bridgewater simply threw over him on several occasions and that makes me believe that NFL QBs and offensive coordinators would do the same. All that said, Elam has terrific instincts for the ball and is very good at cutting off routes underneath. His size is a concern, but he has playmaker written all over him.
8. Jonathan Cyprien, FS, Florida International-I love Cyprien. I flat out love his game. He is one of my top 3 favorite players in the draft (note: favorite, not best). I love his size and instincts. Cyprien is also a big hitter(though not as big as some would have you believe). So you are telling me I can have a player that plays like a FS and hits like Bernard Pollard? sign me up! If you dont know about Cyprien, check out his game against Louisville. again, against a very good QB, Cyprien had one of his best college games. his interception in the second quarter is perfection at the FS position. He looks like Ed Reed on the play. Cyprien is a guy likely to get a few 15 yard personal foul penalties per season, but he also looks like a superstar in the making. I would be overjoyed were the Ravens to land Cyprien.
Let me hear it Ravens fans, who is the best option at 32? vote below.
Who Should the Ravens take at 32nd Overall?
- Keenan Allen (38%, 22 Votes)
- Jontahn Cyprien (36%, 21 Votes)
- Manti Teo (14%, 8 Votes)
- Matt Elam (7%, 4 Votes)
- Kevin Minter (3%, 2 Votes)
- Jesse Williams (2%, 1 Votes)
- John Jenkins (0%, 0 Votes)
- Justin hunter (0%, 0 Votes)
- other(let me know in the comments) (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 58