Why Baltimore Needs To Nail The Draft
Free agency is underway, but most of the major deals were done before the league year technically started. The top QB free agent, Kirk Cousins, is signing with the Minnesota Vikings, the Cleveland Browns traded for Jarvis Landry, and Philadelphia Eagles got better by adding Michael Bennett. The problem for the Baltimore Ravens is that it appears that more teams were able to be aggressive early because they had cap space to work with. This issue happens when a team must overpay for free agents because their lack of success in the draft, and unless someone falls into their lap, the Ravens are going to need to succeed in this upcoming draft.
#Ravens fans watching every other NFL team in free agency pic.twitter.com/qhBhcHk0Cl
— Billy Hargrove (@badmonjonny_) March 13, 2018
So far, Baltimore has re-signed OL James Hurst to a $17.5 million, $8 million guaranteed deal, and have signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, as well as John Brown to a one-year deal. This isn’t a big splash that fans were expecting, but the Ravens have been operating in salary cap hell for years now, and signing Jarvis Landry to $15 million annual deal was unrealistic. At the same time however, Signing Michael Crabtree (who turns 31 this year) and John Brown (who can’t seem to stay on the field) doesn’t make the offense better, but keeps them more of the same from 2017. It seems to be clear that the Ravens need to be focused on the draft in April.
Steve Bisciotti: We’ll be making some free agent splash signings this year
*Wakes up to notifications of every good receiver NOT signing with the Ravens* pic.twitter.com/Ci51CFpF7y
— 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐧 (@BrendanBmore) March 13, 2018
It has been discussed that the Ravens need wide receivers, but Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry and Allen Robinson are now off the board, leaving the cupboard bare when it comes to game-changing talent. To be honest, the draft WR crop doesn’t provide much hope, as most scouts have only Calvin Ridley listed as first round talent, but that is only because he is the best of an average bunch.
NFL.com states, “Long, press corners cause hesitation in his release. Hasn’t learned to use hands as press counter. Too easily impeded by contact. Routes can be redirected by quality bump and run talent. Inconsistent using body positioning to leverage target area along deep sideline. Despite natural hands, struggles with focus drops when he senses a hitter nearby. Had 20 drops over three seasons. Scouts question toughness to catch in NFL traffic. Dances after catch on hitches rather than getting it upfield. Runs after catch can be thwarted immediately by first contact.”
Certain negative attributes are what fans griped about on Perriman and Maclin, and drafting their hybrid won’t help the Ravens move forward. I could understand spending a top pick on a Julio Jones or Antonio Brown-type player, but with his clear weaknesses and lack of development of wide outs already, Ridley will not improve in that system.
Flacco will likely be out of Baltimore after the 2019 season, with Harbaugh along with him. With that, Eric DeCosta will want to rebuild the team in his image now that Ozzie is stepping down. Unless a QB like Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson, or an OL such as Orlando Brown or Isaiah Wynn is there at #16, the best bet for the Ravens is to trade down a few spots and get some picks for days two and three.
The Ravens need an influx of talent on offense, and they could grab a D.J. Moore or Christian Kirk late in the first round and still be able to pick up running backs in Sony Michel or John Kelly and perhaps a tight end in Mark Andrews. The Ravens, whether some fans want to come to terms or not with it, are not in retool, but full rebuild mode, and it is greatly needed. There is no shame in admitting that it’s time to start over, because every team must go through it at some point. The way the Ravens have played football the last 20+ years has gotten them two Super Bowls, but if they want to compete for more, it’s time to adapt or die.
Jason Miller/Getty Images North America
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