The Baltimore Ravens will enter this year’s draft with 12 picks, the second most in the league behind the San Francisco 49ers, who have 13 picks. The selections will give the team an opportunity to add some talented players, with five of the picks coming in the first four rounds of the draft, and seven more picks in the final two rounds of the draft.
Baltimore could opt to select 12 players, or use some of their picks to trade up or down in the draft. The Ravens have a history of trading picks for players; in fact, they haven’t drafted a player in their original first round position in any of the past five drafts.
Baltimore traded out of the first round last year and took outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw with the third pick of the second round, 35th overall. The year before, they passed over making the 26th pick of the draft, trading down and selecting cornerback Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick. During the 2010 draft, they traded out of the first round and selected outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, and in 2009 they traded up from the 26th overall pick to the 23rd overall pick to select offensive tackle Michael Oher. In 2008, they moved around in the first round multiple times to get their hands on quarterback Joe Flacco.
They may be on the move in the first round again this season, especially since their first opportunity won’t come until the 32nd pick, the last selection of the first round of the draft.
“There will be some players that if they are on the clock, we will consider trading away from them, acquiring value and then trying to select another player,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. “Having [so many] picks we can trade gives us the opportunity to maybe make some moves. If we covet a player that’s still available, maybe we go up and get him. Maybe we deal some of those picks for some value next year in that draft.”
During the past month, the Ravens have addressed many of their needs via free agency acquisitions; they needed a pass rusher to fill the void of outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who left to the Cleveland Browns for a huge contract deal, so they signed Pro Bowl caliber outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil. They needed to strengthen their defensive line, so they signed defensive tackles Chris Canty, formerly of the New York Giants and Marcus Spears of the Dallas Cowboys. They even took a step toward replacing legendary middle linebacker Ray Lewis by signing former Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain, who was the 8th overall pick in the 2010 draft. But they could give McClain more help by drafting a young linebacker like Manti Te’o of Notre Dame, or Alec Ogletree of Georgia.
The Ravens also have to add more depth at the safety position and the receiver position, two areas where they lost impact players including future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. They’ll also have to add a new left offensive tackle if they choose to bring back veteran Bryant McKinnie, who anchored the position for the team throughout the playoffs last season. They could possibly trade up to address that position, as they did when they traded up for Oher in 2009.
The Ravens added former first round pick Michael Huff in free agency after he was released from the Raiders this summer. But they may still end up drafting a younger talent at the safety position, and may even use one of their first picks on that position. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said this year’s draft class is very deep with safeties.
“It’s a great safety class,” said Mayock. “Best safety class I’ve seen in years. … [Kenny] Vaccaro [of Texas University] to me is a really good football player on tape. I’ll be surprised if he gets past the top 15 or so, which is pretty high for a safety. Matt Elam from Florida, another really good football player. I have him in the second round. And then after that, I have at least 10 or 12 safeties jumbled together. Some are only strong [safeties], some are free [safeties], but some could play both that you can get in the second and third rounds.”
Regardless of who Baltimore selects, it will be well planned out far before the draft begins.
“Believe it or not, the decision’s made before the draft,” DeCosta said, adding that the team has a game plan for the draft, just as if they were game-planning for a game.
“We stick to [our game plan],” DeCosta said. “We don’t deviate from it at all. We have a plan going in; it’s very well organized. … It really is scripted and we cover that exactly like we’re calling plays of a game.”
Here’s where the Ravens will be picking in all seven rounds of the draft:
Round One: 32nd overall
Round Two: 62nd
Round Three: 94th
Round Four: 129th and 130th
Round Five: 165th and 168th
Round Six: 199th, 200th and 203rd
Round Seven: 238th and 247th