With the Ravens' Liars Lunch just concluded, were we able to glean a direction that the team is headed? Well, it was a liars' lunch so that may not be that useful. However, KZ is useful. I have posed some Raven-centric questions to him and he may be able to point us in the right direction. So, here goes Thirteen Questions and a Prediction.
Many GM’s have said it’s the deepest draft in 30 years. In my 10 years of doing this, it is easily the deepest I have seen. The amazing thing this year is that it’s deep across all positions. We have all heard this is a WR draft or this is a QB draft, but 2014 is an everything draft. You can get solid day one NFL starters from the 5th or 6th round this year.
As far as the trade market is concerned, I think you get less value when making a trade this year. You don’t have to reach for players. My thought is less trades in number and less value required to make them happen will be the overall trend.
How do you think the extra month has affected the draft process for prospects, teams, agents, and others involved in the never ending analysis?
It’s allowed more research, and more time for players to get in trouble. I think everyone is worn out because of the extra time. There are players like Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana) that have made a strong charge up boards very late. In previous years, teams would try to keep a player like that a secret. This year there are no secrets.
There has been pendulum swinging opinion on the quarterbacks in this draft. Some people have felt that teams will reach for a quarterback in the first round, which will cause highly-rated talent to fall further in the first round. In your opinion, how will the quarterback-needy teams affect teams' overall draft boards, in particular the Ravens' draft board?
Well, I don’t think they affect the Ravens at all, since the Ravens are obviously not taking a QB in round one. I think you always reach for a QB, simply because you can’t win in today’s NFL without one. For example, if Houston loves Blake Bortles (QB, Central Florida) and thinks he is a franchise guy, you take him number one overall, regardless of where you have him ranked. Otherwise, you are settling on a QB in round two that was not your first choice. There are no sure fire guys in drafts. You have to trust your scouting and not listen to people like me (LOL).
As far as the entire board is concerned, it changes a ton based on where QB’s are taken. If they start to slide, more teams may be willing to trade up (back into the first round) to get their guy as the prices come down. Truth in this draft is that there are 45 guys that have first round talent, so the draft boards have QB’s sprinkled throughout them.
At the end of free agency, most would say that the remaining needs for the Ravens are (in order of importance) G or T, FS, TE, CB, WR, RB, and LB. What needs have you zeroed in on that the Ravens might address in the draft? What is the positional value for each of the Ravens' need positions? How will that affect how the Ravens should approach the draft?
I think, like most, that OT and FS are up there (as needs for the Ravens), but WR is still a major need. One would think that the Ravens will take one in the first three rounds. The issue with OT is I think there are some very solid tackles to be taken in rounds three and four. A guy I keep talking about is Billy Turner from North Dakota State. I’d be stunned if he didn’t start in the NFL for 10 years. He is a 3rd round to 4th round guy. It helps that the Ravens only (I don’t use that lightly) need a right tackle.
Ozzie is going to be Ozzie, and he will get the best player on his board regardless of position. He has enough picks to address all areas and the depth of this year’s draft plays into his favor. Don’t reach…accumulate extra picks and build your team.
Explain a scenario where the Ravens do not address the tackle and/or safety positions early in the draft.
Well, define early…I can see LB and WR in rounds one and two—easily if a CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama) falls to 17. Then in round two, I could see an Allen Robinson (WR, Penn State) or a Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt) at WR if they are still around. I’d be satisfied if after two rounds that happened. Like I will say often, the depth this year plays into your favor--if you are patient and do not reach.
There have been many players linked to the Ravens throughout the draft process and various mock drafts: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama), Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan), Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M), Eric Ebron (TE, UNC), C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama), Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame), Odell Beckham (WR, LSU), Calvin Pryor (FS, Louisville), and Ra'Shede Hageman (DL, Minnesota). Which of these players do you foresee actually being available when the Ravens select in the first round? What is the worse-case scenario for the Ravens in the first round? Do you foresee a scenario where the Ravens will have a "difficult" decision to make because of a glut of talent when they select?
Well, all the players you listed could be the pick and none would truly surprise me. I am not a fan of Martin because to me, he is a G at the NFL level. Hageman would surprise me a bit, as it’s not a glaring need position for the Ravens. Lewan and Evans will be long gone by the 17th pick. So Clinton-Dix, Ebron, Mosely, Martin, Beckham or Pryor could all be in purple. Unless they trade down, more about that later…
The worst case scenario…that is actually a tough one…they could let the clock run out and miss their pick... Seriously, I have a hard time thinking of any scenario that is bad for them. But, I would hate for them to trade up to get anyone and lose picks in this year’s draft. I just don’t think you have to do that.
The later scenario is more probable, as I can see them having a tough call on an abundance of talent when they pick. But as always, the Ravens will be true to their board.
Give us one player that could drop in the 1st round that the Ravens should pounce on, regardless of need. Give us one player that could drop in the 1st round that the Ravens should allow to continue to drop. Why should the Ravens pounce, or stay away, from said players?
I do not want Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame) and he could be there for the Ravens. I think he is a guard at the NFL level. He may be a good one, but the Ravens need a tackle in round one if they are going offensive line. Martin has short arms, and I don’t love his feet.
If Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) should get past Detroit as 10, I think the Ravens then start to think about going up and getting him. He is a true number one guy—great hands, and he is tough after the catch.
What are some realistic options (prospects and/or positions) for the Ravens to target in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds?
Allen Robinson (WR, Penn State), Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt), Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson), Dominique Easley (DT, Florida), Jimmy Ward (FS, Northern Illinois)
Billy Turner (OT, North Dakota State), Travis Swanson (C, Arkansas), Jeremy Hill (RB, LSU), Terrance West (RB, Towson), Troy Niklas (TE, Notre Dame), Dion Bailey (FS, USC)
Jeff Janis (WR, Saginaw Valley), Kevin Norwood (WR, Alabama), Brandon Thomas (G, Clemson), Ed Reynolds (FS, Stanford), Caraun Reid (DT, Princeton), Seantrel Henderson (OT, Miami)
Over the last few years, the Ravens have been better at mining the smaller schools for talent (Ladarius Webb, Brandon Williams, Aaron Mellette, etc.). Give us some of your key hidden gems that the Ravens could, and should, be considering throughout the draft.
I love Jeff Janis the WR from Saginaw Valley—kid will be a star in the NFL. Josh Walker a G from Middle Tennessee State is rising up boards and he could be a steal on day three. Alex Bayer, TE from Bowling Green would be a nice fit late. And finally, Keith Wenning the QB from Ball State in the 6th or 7th round will be a solid back-up quarterback. A.C. Leonard a tight end from Tennessee State is an athletic freak who is 6’2”, 250 Lbs and ran a 4.50 40-yard dash.
A few more that you may or may not know:
Howard Jones from Shepherd (yes, D-III Shepherd) is going to be a solid 3rd down go-get-the-QB kid in the NFL. Dri Archer from Kent State is small at 5’8”, but he may be as fast as any RB going in the draft. But, this kid is strong as well. He will go in the 3rd or 4th round. And finally, Jerick McKinnon from Georgia Southern. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and he put up 32 reps of 225 pounds. By the way, he is a 5’9” RB! He is a major sleeper.
Who are the players that you feel fall into the over-hyped category? What prospects, in your opinion, are on the rise for the right reasons?
Zack Martin!!! So…overrated. He is a G at the NFL level—at best. I get that he has a nasty streak, but he has short arms and slow feet. I just do not see it. I also think all of the QB’s are pushed up higher than they belong, but that’s just the nature of the draft. I would also stay clear of Jace Amaro the TE from Texas Tech…to me, he is too slow and has hands of stone.
Rising, I will jump on the Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana) bandwagon. He was hurt late last season and missed some post-season workouts. But since he is healthy, he has had all scouts going back to the game tape. He never dropped a single ball. He has size and speed, and he could crack the first round. Also, Jimmy Ward (FS, Northern Illinois) could sneak into the first round as well. The top three safeties—Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama), Calvin Pryor (Louisville), and Ward—are all dependant on personal flavor. In other words, teams are varying on who the number one FS is.
Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State) could be a monster in the NFL. He is probably a second round pick, but could go late first round to San Francisco.
In light of the Ravens' police-blotter-filled offseason, are there any questionable characters that the team should avoid? Are there any particular players that the Ravens may be willing to give a second chance?
I think Jeremy Hill (RB, LSU) is a guy the Ravens may give a second chance to. The talent says he will be a solid NFL RB. On the other side of the coin, Isaiah Crowell (RB, Alabama State) may be the most talented back in the draft, but his laundry list of on and off-the-field issues will leave him off many draft boards.
Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon), from character questions, may be too much to overcome. But at 6’4”, 245 lbs, he ran a 4.60 40-yard dash. He may get a chance from some teams.
At the end of draft weekend, how would you classify this as a successful draft?
If the Ravens come out of the draft with a potential starting RT, FS, WR and RB, then the Ravens will have addressed their main needs, and covered themselves for whatever happens to Ray Rice—age-related or law-related. You can never grade a draft fully until 3 to 5 years down the road. But if they address their needs, that is as much as you can ask of a front office.
Final prediction: Who do the Ravens select in the first three rounds?
So at the Ravens pre-draft luncheon (Liars Lunch), the phrase “we love picks” was said 10 times if it was said once. I know they would love to trade down. I think if when they select, at 17, and they still have four or five guys on their board that they like, you could see them trade down. San Francisco or New England seem like natural trade partners, but if some teams in the top 7 pass on QB’s, then look for teams to try and get back into round one to get their QB. You would have to get about pick 20 (Arizona) to be assured to get your guy. The Ravens are known to be open to trading down, so they will field a bunch of calls on draft day.
If they trade down and out of the 17th pick, I could see them grab an OT like Morgan Moses (Virginia) or Joel Bitonio (Nevada) in round one. In round two, they could then grab a WR like Jordan Matthews or Allen Robinson. And in round three, they could grab a RB like Terrance West or Jeremy Hill. Then they could come back with their compensatory pick and grab Dion Bailey from USC to play FS.
If they stay with 17th pick, they select CJ Mosley…get the WR in round two, and take Billy Turner (OT, North Dakota State) along with one of the RB’s above in round three.
These are my best guesses.