The Baltimore Ravens will make their first selection in the 2014 NFL Draft this coming Thursday. Thinking logically and systematically, who might be the first-round pick?
Mock drafts have been going on for months. And though these are interesting and informative, the earliest of these dating back to January are particularly rather futile. Lots of sands have shifted since that time for the Baltimore Ravens.
Immediately after the end of the season, it looked completely obvious that the primary need was for an offensive tackle to fix a very troubled offensive line. Michael Oher was assumed to be gone, and indeed he is. It was uncertain if Eugene Monroe would be signed, though he did so on March 11th for five years at $37.5 million. And Jeremy Zuttah has also been signed.
Nearly as obvious at the end of the season was the conspicuous need for more targets for Joe Flacco. Would Dennis Pitta be re-signed? He has been. It did not look positive to retain Jacoby Jones, but his dancing steps will be back. And who would have thought that the Baltimore Ravens would be the 2014 home of Steve Smith and Owen Daniels?
Now understand – it is possible that a tackle, wide receiver, or tight end might be holding up a Ravens jersey with a big smile as the #17 overall pick in the draft this coming Thursday. All I am saying is that there have been some shifting sands in the “needs” department.
And having said that, it could be successfully argued that the greatest current need is for a free safety. Matt Elam will be moved to maximize his natural strengths at strong safety. I for one have come to embrace this perspective at the top issue to address.
And while some may argue for a priority need to deal with running back uncertainties, that can wait for a subsequent round of the draft and our next article for discussion … the same being true of cornerbacks.
Let’s Get Logical …
Could Ozzie Newsome trade down as he has in the past? There is a successful argument for this possibility in light of the quality players in this deep draft pool. Instead of getting one great impact player, there is the possibility of getting two very, very, very good players. But I think that this time around – higher in the draft at #17 with the possibility of a great player to help the team WIN NOW – Newsome will stick at the prescribed spot. The only way he changes from this is if every one of the players below are already off the board, which seems unlikely. So …
1. Get a safety to address the greatest need presenting the highest possibility of immediate positive impact. If Hasean “Ha-Ha” Clinton-Dix of Alabama is available, he becomes the second safety in two years selected number one by the Baltimore Ravens.
2. If Clinton-Dix is gone, and Calvin Pryor of Louisville remains on the board, it makes sense to take him for the aforementioned need and strategy. More on this in the next article, but this is my prediction as to what will happen.
3. If both of these safeties are gone, move to filling the offensive tackle position if possible. It is unimaginable that Jake Matthews of Texas A&M would still be available, but that would be sweet. The same thing with Greg Robinson of Auburn – though I will render the personal opinion that I was not impressed with his play at the end of the college season.
4. If all four of the mentioned players are already drafted, and if Taylor Lewan of Michigan is on the board, he’s the man. And if he too joins the other four as having already put on a NFL jersey on camera, and Zach Martin of Notre Dame remains, give the 6-4, 308 pounder a purple shirt.
5. If all of those above are gone, therefore bumping North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron down to 17th, this would be a good gain for the Ravens and for Flacco in the coming handful of years.
6. Notice all of the “ifs” we’ve been through? But “if” all of the above is not possible, and it becomes the opportunity to turn to getting a wide receiver, there is no way imaginable that Mike Evans of Texas A&M remains or Sammy Watkins of Clemson, but Odell Beckham of LSU might surely be draft-able.
In all of this discussion, notice how many names have been mentioned just in this little article … here, I’ll count them for you – it is a total of 10. And this does not include the quarterbacks (Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater), or Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack or a handful of other top talents spoken of as top-10 potential picks. This is why I cannot believe that the Ravens will be trading down – the temptation of the quality at the top is too great.
This is an interesting year.