Baltimore Ravens 2018 NFL Draft Review

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Baltimore Ravens 2018 NFL Draft Review
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With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, it’s time to give an evaluation as to how all 32 teams did in addressing their positional needs. Here, the focus will be on the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore made six trades over the course of the draft, and we will go over them all.

Traded first-round pick (16th overall) and fifth (154th) to Buffalo Bills, receiving Buffalo’s first (22nd) and a third (65th)

Traded first-round pick (22nd) and a sixth (215th) to the Tennessee Titans, for first (25th) and fourth (125th)

Traded a second-round pick (52nd), a fourth (125th), and a 2019 second round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, receiving the last pick in the first round (32nd)

Traded first pick in the third round (65th) to the Oakland Raiders, for a third (75th), a fifth (152nd), and a sixth (212th)

Traded third-round pick (75th) to the Kansas City Chiefs, for a third (86th) and a fourth (122nd)

Traded fifth round pick (152nd) to Tennessee Titans, for fifth round pick (162nd) and sixth (215th)

This was always set to be an interesting draft for the Ravens, as there is a changeover currently going on in the front office. This is set to be the last draft for Ozzie Newsome with the Ravens, with the reigns being handed over to Eric DeCosta. Heading into the draft, there was a definite interest around the league in seeing how this team would handle the change. DeCosta didn’t take long to show his involvement, having arguably the most active first round of any team in the draft.

When all was said and done, the Ravens had made three trades in the first round, and drafted 12 players.

First round, 25th overall: Hayden Hurst, tight end, South Carolina
First round, 32nd overall: Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Louisville
Third round, 83rd overall: Orlando Brown, tackle, Oklahoma
Third round, 86th overall: Mark Andrews, tight end, Oklahoma
Fourth round, 118th overall: Anthony Averett, cornerback, Alabama
Fourth round, 122nd overall: Kenny Young, linebacker, UCLA
Fourth round, 132nd overall: Jaleel Scott, wide receiver, New Mexico St.
Fifth round, 162nd overall: Jordan Lasley, wide receiver, UCLA
Fifth round, 190th overall: DeShon Elliott, safety, Texas
Sixth round, 212th overall: Greg Senat, offensive tackle, Wagner
Sixth round, 215th overall:Bradley Bozeman, center, Alabama
Seventh round, 238th overall: Zach Sieler, defensive end, Ferris State

Ravens 2018 Draft Grade: 9.2/10, A-

Baltimore Ravens 2018 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Hayden Hurst

When it came to highest position of need for Baltimore, it was either wide receiver or tight end. They were able to trade down twice and pick up extra picks, and still grab arguably the best tight end in the draft. Hurst is a complete tight end, with not only an incredible set of hands, but the ability to run block. This will help the Ravens out immediately, as he isn’t just a one-dimensional threat, which will eliminate defenses knowing that it’s going to be a run or pass when he is on the field.

At 6’5″, 250 pounds, and running a 4.67 40-yard dash, he has the speed and size to be a match-up problem for most defenders who end up assigned to him. The one downside to Hurst is his age, as he is 25 already due to some years spent playing baseball. This limits his ceiling, but does give him a high floor, with great maturity and a better understanding of any system that he is presented with. With Joe Flacco (at least for 2018) and his constant checkdowns, Hurst should be able to have an immediate impact for the Ravens.

The Head-Scratcher: Trading Out of the 16th pick

The Ravens had a very good draft, and there isn’t much to second guess after looking at everything that they did. What stands out is them trading out of the 16th pick. They were still able to get two needs filled at 25 and 32, but with the high level talent left at 16, was it the right decision? They could’ve filled an enormous need at wide receiver by taking Calvin Ridley, or grabbed one of the two available defenders who many had considered top ten picks, Tremaine Edmunds or Derwin James.

There wasn’t a lot to criticize with the draft, as the Ravens had a lot of needs. If it’s realized in a few years that they passed on a Pro-Bowl level player, this will be the trade that is looked at. However, they were able to pick up some later picks to improve the depth and still get good talent added to the team, which is a help to Baltimore who is no where near as deep as they have been in year’s past.

The Surprise: Lamar Jackson

When the Ravens decided on Hurst at the 25th pick, most thought that Lamar Jackson was no longer on option. However, the Ravens decided they weren’t done on day one and jumped back in at the 32nd pick to take Lamar Jackson, obtaining the very valuable fifth-year option on him.

Jackson shouldnt be expected to make much of an impact in 2018, as Flacco still has a large cap hit. The expectation is that Flacco will be released after the 2018 season to minimize the dead money from his contract. This puts Jackson in a good spot, giving him the opportunity to spend a year watching and learning, leading to him being handed the keys to the franchise and stepping in to run the team in 2019.

The Steal: Kenny Young

Kenny Young was supposed to be the next in the line of great UCLA linebackers, and was one of the top rated linebackers in his recruiting class, as a top ten four-star prospect. He had a great junior and senior year at UCLA, finishing second-team all-conference as a junior, and then turning in an even better senior year, leading the team in tackles, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors.

There are some concerns with consistent effort from Young, but this may have to do with all the things that he has had to deal with outside of football. From living with a friend growing up, to receiving word during his sophomore season that not only had his grandmother passed away, but that his father was diagnosed with cancer as well. He did show talent and fortitude despite these issues, and has the talent and skill to become one of the next great linebackers in the long line of stars the Ravens have had at the position.

Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: The Rookie Receiver Battle

With back to back picks at the 132nd and 162nd picks, the Ravens took two receivers, Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley. With the lack of depth at this position, one of these two receivers is likely to be given the opportunity for a lot of snaps during the season. Will it be the larger Scott, who is 6’5″ and 218 pounds, and known for his amazing one-handed grab against Arizona State. Or will it be the smaller and quicker Lasley? If Lasley can erase the concerns about his problem with drops, he should be considered the favorite to see in game snaps in 2018, even though he was taken later than Scott.

The Rest

With 12 players taken in the draft, it’s going to take some time for Ravens fans to learn about all of the new faces. A pair of Oklahoma players joined the team in the third round, with offensive tackle Orlando Brown coming off the board three picks before tight end Mark Andrews joined him. Brown is the son of former NFL player Orlando “Zeus” Brown, who played for the Ravens as well. Formally projected to be a first round pick, his stock plummeted after running one of the worst 40s in Combine history at 5.82 seconds. The talent is there, and if he can show the foot speed to compete, he will likely be given the opportunity to start at right tackle this season. Andrews is another with first round talent, but deals with type 1 diabetes. It can be managed, but is still unpredicatable, leading to occasions where he has become unresponsive from low blood sugar. He did manage to show his talent his senior year, winning the John Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end.

The Ravens also took a pair of Alabama players, cornerback Anthony Averett and center Bradley Bozeman, although they were taken nearly 100 picks apart. Averett is an exceptional athlete, with great feet and good hips. He struggles in extended coverage, as it isn’t something that Alabama normally deals with and is a concern at the next level. If he can put on a little weight without losing athleticism, he should have a fine career. Bozeman is a lesser prospect, and is mostly known for proposing to his girlfriend after the national title game. Although he has the size to play in the NFL, the concern is that all his skills are a little below what is required for playing on Sunday.

The hope for DeShon Elliott is that he can play the hybrid safety/linebacker roll, as he is one of the guys who has been labeled a “tweener”. As with Bozeman, the concern is if his skills are going to transfer well enough to the next level. Does he have the correct mix of size and speed, or will he be one of the classics who is stuck being good at safety and linebacker, but not good enough for the NFL?

The Ravens definitely went with a lot of projects in the draft, and two of the biggest are Greg Senat and Zach Sieler. Both players come from small schools, with Senat from Wagner and Sieler from Ferris State. Both players look to be incredibly talented, but it can be difficult to tell as most of the players they are playing against are lower level small school athletes. If either one of these players can have any kind of impact for the Ravens, they will be considered a great pick.

Bottom Line

For a team with a lot of needs, the Ravens did a fantastic job at finding a mix of top talent, filling their top needs with that talent, as well as grabbing guys who fell a couple rounds. They also maximized most of the trades, trading down to gather picks to fill out the roster with great controllable deals. This is one of the better looking drafts of the last few years, and for the first draft of the new DeCosta era, he has made a great start in filling the shoes of Newsome.

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