Bringing back Ronald Darby could change Ravens 2024 draft plans

Darby could alter what Eric DeCosta does in April.

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens
Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens had one of the best secondaries in the league last year, as stars like Kyle Hamilton and Marlon Humphrey were supplemented by less-heralded young players like breakout stud Geno Stone and reliable veterans like well-traveled cornerback Ronald Darby.

Darby has bounced around the league as a mercenary for anyone who needs defensive back depth, but his performance in his last few stops started to fall off just a tad. He was revitalized in Baltimore, as the very specific role they created for him in Mike Macdonald's defense made him an unheralded member of the league's best defense.

Darby is one of over 20 Ravens players who are hitting free agency this offseason, and Baltimore might decide to use one of their top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft on a replacement. Multiple mock drafts have the Ravens using either their first or second-round pick on an immediate defensive back upgrade.

If the Ravens bring back Darby (which they should so considering he isn't going to break the bank, Baltimore may see their entire 2024 NFL Draft strategy changed. Why invest premium draft current into the secondary when Darby, Humphrey, and Brandon Stephens are a more than reputable unit?

Baltimore Ravens' NFL Draft strategy could change by signing Ronald Darby

Darby recorded two interceptions while ranking near the top of the NFL in lowest separation allowed. With his speed still above-average, Darby took to the role of nickel cornerback quite well for Macdonald. His performance will likely demand a raise when compared to the $1.7 million he earned last year.

The Darby-Humphrey-Stephens trio could be a quality line of defense for 2024, even if Humphrey's status for beyond next year is in question. Cornerback as a priority need could be pushed to 2025, leaving the Ravens with three Top 100 picks to address other areas of need.

The offensive line is losing many of their more reliable players to free agency, and the defensive line could use one more edge rusher next to a free agent like Jadeveon Clowney. In a very deep class at wide receiver, Baltimore could spend high-end picks on a receiver instead of a Darby replacement.

Darby turning his career around was one of the main reasons Baltimore was able to go from a good defense to a great one. The Ravens would be shooting themselves in the foot if they replace him with a random third-round pick.