With the pre-draft process revving up with the conclusion of the Senior Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens and general manager Eric DeCosta have their eyes on a select number of players that could be entering their facilities come April during the NFL Draft.
This year’s draft lends itself well to the Ravens. It is loaded with high-end receiving talent and is deep on the edge. Baltimore’s two weakest position groups are their wide receiver and linebacking corps, and adding talent at these positions could be what gets the Ravens over the hump in 2020. While the Ravens likely won’t get a shot at picking up one of the Chase Young‘s or Jerry Jeudy‘s of the world, there are still a handful of players that are great fits in Baltimore. Hitting on players all throughout the draft has been what has powered the Ravens to so much success over the past two seasons.
These are 10 prospects the Ravens and their scouts should be keeping an eye out for over the next three months.
Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft Prospects to Watch 2020
Tier 1 – Late First Round/Early Second Round
Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma) – Interior Linebacker
The weakest spot on the Ravens entire team entering the 2019 season was their linebackers. It remained that way until the end of the year. The unit underwent a number of changes throughout the season but still, L.J. Fort will be the only impact player likely returning in 2020. Murray is a bullet from the linebacker position with the ability to get sideline-to-sideline and into the backfield with ease. He’s the fastest linebacker in the draft and fits the mold of a three-down interior linebacker in 2020. Watch out for Murray at the combine as his speed and athleticism will be on full display. In terms of value, he seems like the most likely match for the Ravens in round one of this year’s draft.
— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) January 21, 2020
Other fits at the same position: Patrick Queen
Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) – Edge
Getting to the quarterback has been an issue for the Ravens over the last two seasons and they need to find edge help whether it is via the draft or in free agency. Retaining Matt Judon would be helpful but not an answer to the problem. Adding Gross-Matos could be the most important piece. While he is not the most technical football player, he wants to get to the quarterback. His motor drives him to play with incredible urgency and his mix of speed and power allows him to overwhelm offensive lineman at the point of contact. Gross-Matos is just one of those players that looks like an NFL pass rusher. He has a tall, long frame and has been productive since being given starting opportunities. A player as gifted as Gross-Matos could do wonders in Don Martindale‘s defense.
This is a beauty from Yetur Gross-Matos – what a year he's had pic.twitter.com/OzAyFmvd2d
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) November 18, 2019
Other fits at the same position: Curtis Weaver
K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU) – Outside Linebacker
There isn’t another player like Chaisson slated to go in the first round. He’s a long, athletic linebacker who can lineup anywhere from the edge to the Mike. That kind of versatility is exactly what the Ravens are looking for in the upcoming draft. Almost all of Baltimore’s linebackers in 2019 all specialized in certain areas but lacked the ability to be true three-down players. Chaisson can stop the run, rush the passer and is very comfortable dropping into coverage. The Ravens likely need to add more than one good linebacker and Chaisson could fill multiple roles if he is to hit his ceiling in as a pro.
Preparation meets execution.
Top video is LSU’s practice on 1/8 (🎥 @TigerDetails): preparation.
Bottom video is LSU’s #18 K’Lavon Chaisson (@S4CKGURU) in the 3rd quarter with 1:40 left, 1st down on Clemson’s 27, and a 35-25 score in the #NationalChampionship: execution. pic.twitter.com/DA1yaaVGzf
— Danny Schaechter 🦅 (@CoachDShack) January 15, 2020
Other fits at the same position: N/A
Tier 2 – Mid-Second Round/Third Round
Collin Johnson (Texas) – Wide Receiver
The Ravens and Lamar Jackson rarely utilized their receivers in 2019 — one of the few positions that lacked depth on the team. Their makeshift receiving corps – outside of Marquise Brown (46) – only tallied a total of 69 receptions on the whole season. Their three tight ends grabbed 125. Baltimore lacked a receiver that imposed his size and Johnson, and his frame, scream possession receiver at the next level. At 6’6″ 220 lbs, Johnson is one of the tallest pass-catchers in the draft. He also has the athleticism to be an effective downfield and red-zone target in the NFL. Johnson’s 2019 season was hampered by injuries but he still finished the season averaging just under 80 yards a game over his seven-game year. If he adds a bit of mass and can become more physical at the catch-point in the NFL, he could be a deadly weapon in Baltimore.
Collin Johnson too big, but he can move like crazy for his size too.
— 𝕮𝕵 ‘𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕭𝖑𝖆𝖈𝖐 𝕳𝖔𝖚𝖓𝖉’ 𝕮𝖑𝖊𝖌𝖆𝖓𝖊 (@LuridRaider) January 21, 2020
Other fits at the same position: Michael Pittman Jr.
Zack Baun (Wisconsin) – Edge
While the Ravens have had single sets of players have successful seasons from the edge, the unit as a whole has been unimpressive for a while now. They finished 2019 with just 37.0 sacks as a team (21st in the NFL), a downgrade from finishing with 42.0 in 2018 and have not finished in the top-10 since 2014. Baun had not had a history of great sack production prior to this season but finished second amongst players in the Big 10 with 12..5 — only trailing Chase Young. He has a variety of moves as a pass rusher and could be a day-one starter in the NFL as a pass-rush specialist.
Zack Baun has moved to off-ball and has made it clear that’s where he wants to play in the NFL
Pass-rush: 91.0 pic.twitter.com/Y9iFDibib2
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 24, 2020
Other fits at the same position: Kenny Willekes
Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma) – Interior Defensive Line
More Ravens fits on the Sooners…what else is new. DeCosta was clearly looking for an interior defender that can get to the quarterback when the Ravens made a push to sign Gerald McCoy last June and they still have yet to fill that role. Galimore is a tier below some of the elite interior lineman in this year’s class but showed promise from the middle of the line over his Oklahoma career. He showed a lot of quality as an intirior pass rusher and could become an even more complete player with more reps at three-technique to help improve his run-stopping. What stands out about Gallimore is his second-effort. His performance at the Senior Bowl, in both drills and the game, made him one of the standouts of the weekend. Gallimore is slowly improving his stock during the pre-draft process.
Ladies & gentlemen, Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore pic.twitter.com/BYdKtUx9gg
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020
Other fits at the same position: Ross Blacklock
Tier 3 – Fourth Round+
Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State) – Cornerback
The Dantzler hype train seems to be all over the place; with certain analysts having him in the top-32 of their big boards to others having him outside of the top-100. He’s a tremendous athlete, competing in football at multiple positions as well as being a track star in high school. Dantzler should be one of the combines best performers. In college, Dantzler played a bit bellow the weight many would like from a shutdown corner but still did a good job matching up against stud SEC wide receivers — allowing just 11 catches in conference play.
If he adds a bit more weight, while still being able to play at his high speed, Dantzler has an incredibly high ceiling. There’s a good chance Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr are done as Ravens and Anthony Averett didn’t look good when he was given starter reps in 2019. Expect the Ravens to take a day-three corner because DeCosta knows depth at the position is invaluable.
Other fits at the same position: Essang Bassey
Evan Weaver (Cal) – Interior Linebacker
If the Ravens don’t end up with a middle linebacker in round one, they need to find one later in the draft. Taking a linebacker on day-three probably won’t give Baltimore a franchise starter but it would give their linebacking corps a needed player that can maybe turn into a complimentary starter. They’ve taken multiple stabs at finding that player, Kenny Young and Chris Board being the two latest examples, and need one to stick eventually.
Weaver would fill two needs here. First, a Will linebacker that could start day-one, and second, a guy who could play a lot of special teams snaps throughout his career. His pursuit and tackling are incredible, demonstrated by him finished in the top-two in all of college football in total tackles both 2018 and 2019. Getting impact starters in the middle of the field is a huge need for the Ravens.
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) January 25, 2020
Other fits at the same position: Monty Rice
Marlon Davidson (Auburn) – Edge/Defensive Line
Davidson’s stock fluctuates depending on who you ask right now. He boosted his draft stock a ton as a senior in 2019 and followed it up with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. While the Ravens have had a need at five-tech defensive end, it has largely been overlooked due to its importance within the team’s scheme. Chris Wormley and Brent Urban have made little impact at the position over the past two seasons.
A player like Davidson that played off the edge in college but has the size to play and create pressure on the interior, is just what the Ravens need. If there was a perfect value/position fit outside of the first-round for the Ravens, it’s getting Davidson on day three of the draft. Gaziano may be a better bet to be on the board in the fourth/fifth round but still produced (9.0. sacks and 17.0 tackles for loss) similar to Davidson last season.
Auburn's Marlon Davidson during #SeniorBowl practice with the hesi/bull to long arm. Finishes with an inside escape via the arm over@marlondavidson7 is projected to go early in the first round of the 2020 #NFLDraft! #PassRush #WarEagle
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) January 22, 2020
Other fits at the same position: Joe Gaziano
Jake Hanson (Oregon) – Interior Offensive Line
Coming out of 2019, the Ravens only have two backup offensive lineman on the roster and one, James Hurst, is likely to be cut before next season. That leaves a lot of room for reinforcements. Baltimore’s offensive line was one of the best in the NFL last year but relying on it to stay completely healthy (again) is a tough ask. It also seems unlikely that the Ravens will spring for an interior offensive lineman early in the draft.
Hanson was a four-year starter at Oregon and would be a good depth add behind the young Patrick Mekari next season. His ability from a purely technical standpoint is some of the best amongst the interior offensive lineman with his best trait being his hands. He was able to hold his own against Derrick Brown and stuck to him on a number of occasions during Oregon’s opening game against Auburn. While Hansen doesn’t possess the strength to completely overpower players at the next level, he’s intelligent enough to succeed in the NFL.
Other fits at the same position: Logan Stenberg
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