The Baltimore Ravens Best Direction in the 2016 NFL Draft
No matter who Ozzie Newsome selects in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the pick will be praised. Newsome is regarded as infallible. When he makes a selection it doesn’t matter if the player chosen was a popular choice, he will become a popular choice because Newsome took him. That is the kind of clout that the Baltimore Ravens general manager has.
Only Ted Thompson may be more widely praised amongst general managers across the league.
Newsome doesn’t normally get to pick in the top 10. The Ravens haven’t had a top-10 pick since 2003 when they picked Terrell Suggs 10th overall. Not since 2000 have they picked higher than they are slated to this year.
Picking sixth overall in this year’s class isn’t like picking sixth overall in some of the recent drafts. There isn’t a six-deep stretch of superstars that can come off the board this year. Instead, the Ravens will be hoping that two quarterbacks go in the first five picks, pushing one of Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner or Laremy Tunsil to the sixth pick.
Should that happen, the Ravens will have an easy decision to make and Newsome can rightfully be praised for taking the best player remaining on the board. Of the four, Ramsey would likely be the preferred option.
Ramsey should be a safety to maximize his potential, but the Ravens could move him around during the early stages of his career. With the departure of Will Hill after the arrival of Eric Weddle, the Ravens still have a starting spot that Ramsey could assume over the middle of the field. Weddle and Ramsey could complement each other well as both would be versatile options who could carry out different assignments while moving around the field to keep opposing quarterbacks off balance.
Even without Hill in place to be the starter next to Weddle, the Ravens would still be tempted to leave Ramsey at cornerback to start his career. The Ravens haven’t found consistency with any of their cornerbacks over recent years and Lardarius Webb can no longer be relied upon to be a starter. Ramsey would play across from Jimmy Smith if everyone was healthy, giving the Ravens two long, strong cornerbacks who could solidify each sideline.
If Ramsey plays cornerback, Kendrick Lewis would compete with Terrence Brooks to start alongside Weddle. If Ramsey plays safety, Webb or Shareece Wright would be in line to start from those currently on the roster. Another pick would likely be spent on a cornerback in the draft though.
Jack and Buckner would be straight-forward selections, as would Tunsil. However, Tunsil is the least appealing option of the group. As frustrating as Eugene Monroe has been since signing on as the team’s starting left tackle, he is still a very talented player. Ricky Wagner is also a fine starter at right tackle, so a Tunsil selection could be similar to the Andrus Peat pick that the Saints made last offseason.
Those options will of course only be there if two quarterbacks go in the top five of the draft. If those four players are gone off the board, the Ravens will likely end up picking Joey Bosa or trading back. Bosa isn’t an ideal pick at that stage so trading back would make a lot of sense with one of the quarterbacks still on the board.
Newsome should understand that the Ravens are in a bad spot right now. Their roster is severely flawed and the quarterback they are committed to as their starter moving forward is coming off of major knee surgery. That’s without even considering his poor play over the past few years.
Considering their respective standings in the laegue and past successes on the field, it’s hard to imagine that the Ravens would be in a rush to get rid of Newsome or John Harbaugh if they were forced to suffer through another middling season. For that reason, prioritizing the long-term and stockpiling assets by trading down would be a preferred route if none of the top four prospects fall.