The Super Bowl champions are the subject of a lot of speculation leading up to tonight’s first round. With twelve draft picks, flexibility won’t be an issue for the Ravens if they choose to wheel and deal to select the players they want. With that being said, many experts are saying that the top overall position with top notch talent in this year’s class is the offensive tackle position. Names like Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M and Eric Fisher from Central Michigan are projected top five picks and possibly the first two picks in the draft overall. However, the third name that has sparked major attention over the past couple weeks leading up to the draft is Lane Johnson.
Johnson, who has protected Landry Jones for the last two years at Oklahoma, has skyrocketed and is now projected to be taken within the top ten picks. With teams within the top ten possibly looking to move down and the Ravens need at offensive tackle, speculation is blossoming that Ozzie Newsome could pull off a blockbuster to move into the top ten from pick thirty-two to scarf up Johnson.
To jump over twenty picks in the first round, the price would be very steep. One would think it would take two or possibly three of the Ravens top picks to make a move that drastic. However, Ravens fans have confidence that if anybody could pull a move of this magnitude off, it would be their trusted general manager. That leaves two questions: What team would be willing to move back that far to the last pick of the first round? And also, Is the price that the Ravens would pay worth it for just one player, let alone an offensive tackle?
It would be tough to justify a team trading back from a top five position in the draft to the very last pick of the first round, so I personally would rule out the Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Detroit. The possible exception to that theory would be the Detroit Lions, a lot of people, including themselves, didn’t expect them to be in the position of drafting in the top five in this years draft. They of all the top ten teams, seem to have the best roster and the most talent. They could possibly be willing to move out of that top five position or at least listen to offer of moving back in the draft. The teams at the back end of the top ten are definitely the best option if Johnson even falls that deep into the draft. Buffalo has already talked about shopping their number eight pick to move back for more picks and the New York Jets have two picks in the first round at nine and thirteen. So with all of this being said, I would say the best option if the Ravens are looking to move up would be the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills only have six picks in the draft this year. The Ravens could put together a package that could allow the Bills, a team looking to build more toward the future possibly to have nine or ten picks in this draft. A young team with the opportunity to gain that amount of picks might have a hard time denying that package. Also, the Bills have been open about their desire to draft a franchise quarterback in this years draft. The speculation has been that they will address that desire quickly in the first round. However, in this years draft class there is a lack of top-notch quarterback talent and if the Bills feel like their franchise quarterback is reachable at thirty-two, that would make them more open to falling back in the draft order.
Now the question that remains is how high of an asking price the Bills or any other team will have for their top ten pick. Unless the Ravens are willing to throw players into the deal as well, it would more than likely take at least three or four draft picks to make this deal happen. I think the Ravens would d have a hard time justifying giving up that amount of picks for an offensive tackle. The last team to make a drastic jump for a player was the Falcons for Julio Jones in 2011. That high risk trade ended up paying off as the Falcons now have one of the highest powered offenses in the NFL. I don’t believe Lane Johnson could have the same amount of impact on an offense that a guy like Julio Jones can. Also you can’t ignore the amazingly high price that the Redskins paid for Robert Griffin III last year. But just like Jones, Griffin came in with an immediate impact and totally changed the shape of the Redskins franchise. A quarterback and a wide receiver have impacts on the game that offensive tackles simply cannot have. With that being said, the Ravens need to be careful to not to give up too much for one need. Making this trade would make it so the Ravens wouldn’t be able to address other needs until possibly the third or fourth round. With other needs at linebacker, wide receiver, and safety, the Ravens simply can’t make this trade and give picks in high rounds with so many holes left to be filled.
Lane Johnson is not worth giving up so much for. If the Ravens can minimize the amount of picks they have to give up in the trade, and possibly include a player that isn’t an essential part of their roster, then consideration should be given to making this deal. Another situation that could make this move justifiable would be if the team making the move would allow the Ravens to space out the picks over a drawn out period of time. Other than those circumstances, the Ravens should stick to their guns and wait it out to select someone like Matt Elam, Manti Te’o, or Alec Ogletree at pick number thirty-two. Any one of those three players could come in and have an instant impact on the team without causing the team to give up other opportunities they could have over the course of the next three days.