Shortly after 4:00 PM on Thursday, April 30, 2015, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be “on the clock” to kick off the NFL Draft. That will begin hours of intense discussion, tactical maneuvering and contingency planning by Baltimore Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens “war room” staff.
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The decisions made by Newsome and his counterparts on the other 31 NFL teams will profoundly affect the lives and futures of the 255 young men who will be drafted during the three days shopping tour. However, their decisions will also affect countless undrafted free agents as well as a handful of GMs and coaches that find themselves on the wrong end of those decisions.
“Winston is a better football prospect than his two Heisman winning predecessors and is unlikely to fall lower than the first overall pick.”
Much of the Draft’s initial mystery involves the first overall pick. This year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the dubious distinction of owning that selection. Most observers believe the Buccaneers will take Jameis Winston, the talented but troubled Heisman winning Quarterback from Florida State University. Winston, like fellow Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel, has garnered a lot of media attention but unlike Tebow and Manziel, Winston’s skills and college experience are more compatible with the NFL style of play. Despite reports that he has doubters among the NFL’s elite, Winston is a better football prospect than his two Heisman winning predecessors and is unlikely to fall lower than the first overall pick.
The Baltimore Ravens, on the other hand, were a playoff team in 2014. As one of the NFL’s best, the Ravens will have to wait until pick number 26 to make their intentions known. While it’s true that Baltimore has a few obvious holes to fill such as Cornerback, Safety and pass rusher, none of these needs require a first round selection. The Ravens could also use a Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End and a Running Back but many of those positions can be filled in the middle to late rounds.
Smart money says that Baltimore will attempt to trade out of the first round to accumulate more middle round picks. However, if the Ravens are left standing at the altar, they will probably use the pick to bolster their interior offensive or defensive lines, unless Corner Back Marcus Peters, Defensive End Randy Gregory or Wide Receiver Devante Parker is available.
If Peters, Gregory and Parker are all off the board when the Ravens pick (I doubt they will move up more than a few positions if a blue chipper falls) and they cannot find a trade partner, they will most likely choose Offensive Lineman Cameron Ervine (who can play Center, Guard and Tackle), Arizona State Wide Receivers Jaelen Strong or Breshad Perriman (WR) from the University of Central Florida. Perriman ran the 40 at his pro-day in 4.24 seconds.
Other early second round possibilities for the Ravens would be Defensive Tackle Eddie Goldman from Florida State and Offensive Tackle D. J. Humphries from Florida.
Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome (SOURCE: YARDBARKER)
Ozzie Newsome has a nose for value, so a typical move for him might be to trade back to the early part of the second round, draft Breshad Perriman, Wide Receiver Phillip Dorsett (Miami of Florida) or Cornerback/Safety Eric Rowe out of Utah then trade the Ravens assigned second round pick (number 58) for more picks in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. At this point, it appears that the Ravens will make every effort to trade their first round pick, opting to use days 2 and 3 to replenish the roster.