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What Will Ravens Do In The First Round Of The NFL Draft?

April 17, 2017
The answer is "I honestly have no idea." 

The question? "What will the Ravens do with the 16th overall pick in the NFL Draft?”

A year ago, there were only a handful of even reasonable possibilities when the Ravens selected sixth overall in the first round. With Eugene Monroe's future significantly in doubt, it wasn't hard to imagine the team would address left tackle, particularly if high-level defensive talents Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey were already off the board. The Ravens took Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

This year is far different. This year when player names are called April 27 in Philadelphia, it feels like the team could go one of any number of directions with their 16th pick in the first round. But I'm going to try to walk through all the possibilities in just a few inches of column space. 

1. (Very likely) If Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis or Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams are still available at No. 16, the Ravens ignore their brutal history with first-round receivers and roll the dice once more. 

While Washington wide receiver John Ross has also been lumped into the first-round conversation, his skill set does not seem to match the Ravens' needs. It's also worth pointing out that at the team's pre-draft news conference April 5, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta was quick to lump USC wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster in the first-round category as well. Perhaps he could be in the mix if the Ravens trade back in the first round, or he could be a consideration in the second. 

2. (Fairly likely) The Ravens have already fallen in love with one of the many potential first-round pass rush options and are prepared to line them up across from linebacker Terrell Suggs the moment commissioner Roger Goodell announces the name. 

It is difficult to determine which of the edge rushers behind Texas A&M's Myles Garrett would be the right fit for the Ravens. Options early on include Stanford's Solomon Thomas, Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Michigan's Taco Charlton, Missouri's Charles Harris and UCLA's Takkarist McKinley. Which of those players is best suited for a stand-up role in a 3-4 defense? That determination could go a long way into figuring out which player the Ravens might take if multiple rushers are still sitting at 16. 

3. (Somewhat likely) The Ravens already know Alex Lewis isn't going to be the team's right tackle next season. Knowing this isn't a deep draft for tackles, they pull the trigger on Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk, Utah's Garett Bolles or Alabama's Cam Robinson in the first round. 

But if the Ravens either know Lewis will be the team's right tackle or believe he is capable of winning the role between now and Week One, they won't spend the 16th choice on a tackle. 

4. (Reasonably likely) Despite adding free-agent Brandon Carr, the Ravens remember Jimmy Smith isn't particularly reliable and add another corner with their first choice. 

No position is more difficult to figure out than corner at this point. The consensus is Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore will be the first off the board, but the rest of the group is murky. Washington's Sidney Jones seemed to be the likely second corner off the board before he suffered a torn Achilles during his pro day. Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, LSU's Tre'Davious White and Washington's Kevin King seem to be the other possibilities to go in the first round. 

(Only likely enough to warrant a short note) Despite the backs they already have, LSU's Leonard Fournette or Florida State's Dalvin Cook is there at 16 and the Ravens can't help themselves.
While it isn't a "need" at this point, it certainly couldn't hurt. 

6. (Not particularly likely)  Somehow Alabama's Reuben Foster is still there when the Ravens pick at 16 and general manager Ozzie Newsome calls his name quicker than you can say "Roll Tide." 

The Ravens do still need another inside linebacker to replace the retired Zachary Orr. While it would seem more likely the role could be filled from within the organization or via a later-round pick, Foster is the type of talent that could change that.

7. (Not likely at all) Repeat all of No. 6 but replace the name "Reuben Foster" with the name "O.J. Howard."

Going into the draft, the Ravens have more tight ends on their roster than the Bengals have players who have been or will be suspended for getting into a fight on theirs. But if the receivers don't pan out, and Newsome (who would know) believes Alabama tight end Howard can be a powerful offensive weapon, it isn't impossible.

And 8. (More likely than you want to admit) We all sit down April 27 to watch anxiously, and they just trade out of the first round again anyway.

Issue 232: April 2017