Ravens: First round draft plan for 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens is seen in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens is seen in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

How will the Ravens attack the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft?

I’m not going to talk much about the loss on Sunday. However, I am just as deflated as the rest of you. But all the griping isn’t going to change anything that happened, so lets look ahead to a promising 2018 year. Draft time and free agency might be my favorite time of the whole year. I am planning on doing an article as outlooks for each round in this years draft. The Ravens enter this offseason with a lot upgrading needed. The offensive side of the ball, as we all know, is the group that needs the most upgrading.

However, as we learned from last year, never assume what Ozzie Newsome will do. We all thought they would go offense last draft, too. But then their first three rounds were all defense. This year, they are in the bottom five in cap space available, so this draft better be good. It will be interesting to see where Baltimore goes from here.

The Ravens are going to pick 16th yet again. So there will be some intriguing options there. Fans expect the Ravens to go offense, but I think that unless one of the top three quarterbacks are there, you should go defense. You don’t want to reach for an offensive player in the first round if you’re not completely sure about them (See: Breshad Perriman). Unless Calvin Ridley drops, there isn’t a receiver worth taking this round. You’re going to find out that this is a defensive heavy draft. In the first two rounds, I would say about three-fourths of the top 64 prospects are defense.

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With that being said, don’t be surprised if Ozzie goes BPA (Best-Player Available) here. Baltimore needs inside linebacker help, so Roquan Smith out of Georgia or Josh Allen from Kentucky could be help here. “Peanut” Onwuasor did about as well as he could this year, but C.J. Mosley needs help. The Ravens struggled in run defense at times and they couldn’t cover the middle of the field to save their lives.

Think wide receivers and pass rushers:

However, just for the fans that want offense, lets look at some receivers. Calvin Ridley will be gone. So a guy like Courtland Sutton from SMU is worth a look. He is 6’4″ and has excellent strength and speed.

But there is one guy I really like from Florida State: Auden Tate. At 6’5″ and 225 lbs. He is a serious red zone threat with strong hands. He won’t blow you away with speed, but he can jump with the best of them and is reliable. If he does enter this draft, which there has been speculation he won’t, then I think the Ravens can see him in the second round. Baltimore might not want to reach for him in the first.

I think they stay away from defensive and offensive linemen. They have plenty good ones. I also think they stay away from secondary here, although it wouldn’t shock me to see them replace an aging Eric Weddle with a young, play-making safety. Furthermore, I don’t think they go running back here unless Saquon Barkley miraculously drops.

One way I could see them going is pass rush. They haven’t selected a pass-rusher in the first round since Terrell Suggs. Considering his age, they might want to select a top guy. Baltimore’s pass rush was non-existent at the end of the year. They have drafted a pass rusher in each of the last three drafts. However, I can see them trading Za’Darious Smith in a Timmy Jernigan-like trade.

Final thoughts:

Tim Williams was a disappointment, Matthew Judon is good, nothing special. We are all undecided on Tyus Bowser still. So a guy like Clelin Ferrell out of Clemson can be special. at 6’5″, 260 lbs, he is one of the quickest guys I have seen at that position. Clemson has one of the best defensive fronts in football, and Ferrell is their best pass-rusher.

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Overall, there is a ton of good options here that can contribute immediately. I trust in Ozzie and Eric DeCosta, so I know they will make a good pick here. I am interested to see where they go, however. There is a ton of pressure from fans to go offense, but I will continue to repeat for all the fans: you don’t want to reach. After a tough loss, the Ravens are just a couple of pieces away from being Super Bowl contenders, and they can find those guys in this draft.