Dale Money | April 7th, 2020
After suffering such a rise and fall last season, how will Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens respond? With Ben Roethlisberger now back from last seasons injury, and Baker Mayfield looking to rebound with his Cleveland Browns, It’s certainly going to be interesting to see where this AFC North division takes us.
Anthony Levine will continue to play with the club for at least one more year after re-signing with Baltimore for just over $1.6 million dollars. In Levine’s time in Baltimore, he has been a jack of all trades, playing in several different positions on the defense and also spent a lot of time helping out the special teams unit.
Their most recent free-agent signee, Derek Wolfe, agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal ($3 million of which is guaranteed). Wolfe played eight seasons with the Denver Broncos and was a large part of that vaunted Denver defense that helped lead Peyton Manning to his Super Bowl victory.
So without much further ado, let’s take a look at some of the team’s needs heading into April’s draft. Edge rusher, wide receiver, linebacker, and center are all positions that will need to be addressed. The Ravens will have nine picks in this draft, with five of them being in the first three rounds.
To help with this mock draft, I used the Fanspeak mock draft simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team mock drafts here.
Round 1, Pick 28: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Heading into free agency the future of Baltimore leading linebackers Matt Judon and Patrick Onwuasor was still in question. Fast forward to now, Onwuasor has since joined the New York Jets and Judon got the franchise tag placed on him. Given Judon was one of the only stable pass rushers last season, it was certainly the wise move. However, they did not make any new additions in response to the loss of Onwuasor, leaving a big hole at the inside linebacker position.
With Baltimore ranked 23rd in the league in defensive sacks last year, replenishing the linebacker pool is prudent. Murray plays a quick psychical type of football, that would suit the Ravens’ style of play. Has a strong vice-like to grip, when wrapping up opposing players and yanking them to the ground. Illustrated by his past two seasons with the Sooners, in which Murray racked up over 100 tackles in both of them.
Round 2, Pick 55: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
The Ravens ranked 21st last season in sacks and dead last in total tackles. It’s pretty cut and dried, they’re going need to invest heavily in an attempt to help secure the sagging pass rush. Weaver isn’t garnering a lot of attention compared to names such as Yetur Gross-Matos and A.J. Epenesa. So there is a strong possibility the former Bronco slips down to the 55th selection and if that should happen, the Ravens can’t be second guessing themselves. After three seasons at Boise State, Weaver leaves as the school’s all-time sacks leader. Weaver will need to be used more in the pass rush, as he does lack skills when it comes to defending the run.
Round 2, Pick 60: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
The center position is full of question marks going into the draft. Matt Skura is still in the early stage of continuing rehab from a late season-ending knee injury. With the strong possibility of Skura missing the 2020 season, or at the very least a decent size chunk of it. I like for them to invest early in a quality center. A three-year starter, Ruiz is a dual-threat on the offensive line, in that he can be used at both center and guard. Ruiz has a lot of nice traits for an offensive lineman, including size, strength, and hands. A very talented blocker, he is very adept at eliminating the edges. Ruiz can afford Jackson the pass protection needed, to make those timely decisions in the pocket.
Round 3, Pick 92: Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
The Ravens double up on edge rushers with two of their first four selections, in an attempt to best secure their pass rushing deficiencies. Taylor would suit their needs, having ranked first in team sacks, both in 2018 and 2019. Offensive linemen just couldn’t control Taylor, during his three years at Tennessee. Taylor’s combination of quality pass-rushing moves, along with his explosive speed off the edge, left many opposing quarterbacks looking over their shoulder.
Round 3, Pick 106: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
This Ravens receiving corps is still in need of work. Adding Marquise Brown in the first round last season was a unique move, for a team that’s identity hasn’t been centered around the west coast style of offense. Pittman is a large-bodied receiver at 6’4″ 220 lbs, with long arms in which to snare footballs. Had a very fine 2019, as his 101 receptions were tied for fourth in the NCAA. Pittman would be a fine weapon for Jackson and should slide right into that number two role opposite of Brown.
Round 4, Pick 129: Calvin Throckmorton, G, Oregon
In early March, 13-year veteran Marshal Yanda finally made the public announcement that he had decided to call it a career. Regardless of Yanda’s decision to finally hang up his cleats, it most likely wouldn’t have had any real bearing on whether or not the Ravens would choose to go after a guard in the upcoming draft.
Not your average guard, Throckmorton is like a chameleon in the sense he has swapped out every single position on the offensive line in his four years with the Ducks. However, Throckmorton would spend the majority of the playing time at right tackle, having played 2,706 of 3,650 snaps at the position. His pass-blocking grade was ranked seventh among all tackles. Was voted both AP Pac-12 All-Conference first team and AP All-America third team in 2019. Despite playing most at right tackle at Oregon, Throckmorton is projected to move inside at the NFL level.
Round 4, Pick 143: Dane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh
The club created some minor reshuffling at the cornerback position in late March. They would first decline Brandon Carr‘s contract option, saving themselves $6 million dollars in cap space, then about a week later Jimmy Smith would re-sign on a one year deal at $3.5 million dollars with added incentives. With Tavon Young returning to the team after missing all last season, due to a serious neck injury and Marlon Humphrey now playing out the final year of his current contract. This leaves the team with a lot of uncertainty going into next season, all that in mind adding a young corner in the mid-rounds makes a ton of sense.
Jackson is a very physical corner, that when given the chance will clobber the opposing ball carrier. In his three years as a player at Pittsburgh, Jackson would compile 148 tackles, and four forced fumbles. He was also selected All-ACC second team. With the future at cornerback in question, adding Jackson in the fourth round is a smart move.
Round 5, Pick 157: J.R. Reed, S, Georgia
With Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark holding down the two starting safety spots, it doesn’t leave much depth behind them. DeShon Elliott is still healing up from a knee injury and Jordan Richards considered more of a special teams player than a pure safety. They will need to draft another player to fill out the depth at the safety position. Reed played three full seasons at Georgia, combining for just under 200 tackles. He was a Thorpe Award finalist, alongside two notable names coming into the draft, Grant Delpit and Jeffrey Okudah. Having felt overlooked as far as draft projections go, Reed came to the scouting combine with the intention to raise his draft stock. In the 40-yard dash, Reed ran a 4.54, which was ninth fastest among safeties.
Round 7, Pick 225: Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina
Gus Edwards will continue his role as backup to Mark Ingram for at least one more season after the Ravens decided to pick up the exclusive rights free agent tender. After next season theirs a possibility they could just decide to let Edwards walk. Dowdle had a superb showing at the Combine, having posted the second-best athleticism score according to Next Gen Stats. With the club’s last pick in the draft, selecting a possible backup plan for next year wouldn’t be the worse decision.
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