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Glenn Clark: No Wrong Answers As To What Ravens Should Do In Draft

April 22, 2019
The single dumbest question I get asked every year at this time is the same. 

"What's your favorite flavor of Peeps?"

You think there might possibly be an acceptable flavor of Peeps? Delete your palette. The second-dumbest question I'm asked around this time every year is less obvious. 

"What are the Ravens going to do in the NFL Draft?"

I don't know. Plain and simple. 

Perhaps you're reading that as "I don't have any inside information." That's not what I'm saying. I couldn't possibly tell you if I have any inside information. For the record, some years I have. Some years I haven't. 

I don't know what the Ravens are going to do in the draft because they don't know what they're going to do in the draft. They can't. There are 31 other teams who might also like the same players they like, or those teams might make surprising decisions that alter what the Ravens are capable of doing in the draft. The team does try to get a feel for what they expect other teams will do, but it's an imperfect science at best. 

So what's a more reasonable question to ask? How about something like, "What should the Ravens do in the NFL Draft?" That's totally fair. That one I can give you a good answer for. 

I don't know. Plain and simple. 

In fact, I've never had less of a feel for what the Ravens should do going into an NFL Draft. I don't think they should take a quarterback in the first round. But I do think they should take a quarterback. I don't think they should prioritize cornerback. But you can never have too many cornerbacks. 

I think they're covered at offensive tackle. But if you're telling me there's a special player available at 22 who just happens to be a tackle, I guess figuring out what to do with Orlando Brown Jr. could be a good problem to have. 

And I guess defensive tackle isn't their biggest issue. But this is the Ravens. They're DEFINITELY going to draft a defensive tackle or two. 

The team's most pressing needs couldn't be clearer. In whatever order you prefer, wide receiver, pass rush and interior offensive line would seem to be the biggest needs. Perhaps adding another inside linebacker or pass-catching back could be considered needs as well -- but to a lesser degree. 

But solving this seemingly requires a flow chart from hell. "Are the Ravens committed to opening up their offense?" would be the first question. "Yes" brings us to the question, "Is Lamar Jackson capable of running a more pass-intensive game plan?" From there, we might select "no" because it's the closest option to "not yet," and then the next question becomes, "Can you surround him with enough talent to get him to that point?" Or maybe it becomes, "Do you want to start over?" 

That's what makes this so freaking difficult. It certainly appears as though the Ravens are committed to sticking with the zone-read offense that involves running the ball a ton and not throwing much at all. If they weren't, naming Greg Roman offensive coordinator would be utterly illogical. So if the team isn't committed to opening up its passing offense, do they really need to invest early picks at wide receiver? Wouldn't they be better off strengthening the offensive line to better run the ball or go the pass rush route to make sure their defense is as dominant as possible to back up a ball-control offense? 

ORRRRR does that actually make receiver even more important? If the team believes they need to continue with a run-dominant attack, is that because they believe Jackson is limited as a passer? And if that's the case, don't they need to use the top of the draft to find the players with the absolute biggest catch radius possible to try to bail out the former Heisman Trophy winner? 

You might think to yourself something along the lines of, "That's why they shouldn't draft a receiver early this year. They should wait and see if Jackson can develop as a passer, and if he can, they should select receivers next year." While that seems like sound logic, it brings us back to the eternal question of whether the receivers develop the quarterback or the quarterback develops the receivers?

And since we're here, which came first: the Cadbury Chicken or the Cadbury Egg? 

There's just no correct answer to any of this. The Ravens' 2019 season will be defined by what the Ravens decide to do with Jackson and how capable he proves himself to be of doing it. Only if that works out will it even matter what their early-round picks are capable of doing in their rookie seasons. 

Maybe you think this means they should trade the 22nd pick and acquire more early-round picks to address multiple needs. But this is a roster that still lacks high-level, game-changing types of talent. As if addressing other eternal questions wasn't enough, this particular conundrum brings "quality vs. quantity" into play, to boot. 

So yeah, there are no wrong answers here. Or right ones. I think. I mean, maybe don't draft a kicker. That's what I've got.

Photo Credit: Stan "The Fan" Charles/PressBox