- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Ravens should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Two weeks ahead of the NFL draft, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Wide Receiver
The plan is to build a diverse run-first offense around Lamar Jackson, but you still need pass-catchers. The Ravens, who seem to have a glaring need here every other year, can cite Willie Snead or Seth Roberts as their best options right now. Each would be a No. 3 at best on most teams; plus, each are playing on an expiring contracts. Determining the right style of receivers (and that’s receivers, plural—at least two are needed) could be difficult given that Jackson as an NFL passer is still an unknown entity. Whoever they find must have enough girth and toughness to block; offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s creative run designs can’t flourish unless defenders are handled on the perimeter. This doesn’t mean the Ravens need big receivers, per se, but they could shy away from small receivers.
Hidden Need: Stack Linebacker
With C.J. Mosely getting away this need barely counts as hidden, but it’s less obvious than the gaping holes at wideout (see above) and defensive edge (see below). Patrick Onwuasor came on strong down the stretch last year, particularly as a blitzer, and can pick up some of the slack following Mosley’s departure. The question is 2018 fourth-rounder Kenny Young. He’s an explosive downhill mover, but the fact that in December he lost snaps to the man he was drafted to replace—Onwuasor—suggests he has weaknesses to correct. Can he move laterally? Can he read the field? Is he comfortable in Baltimore’s myriad pressure packages? The answer could well be yes, but the Ravens need insurance in case it’s no. And even if Young improves, they need depth behind him.
Also Looking For: Edge Defenders
The Ravens likely knew they’d lose Za’Darius Smith in free agency but probably didn’t anticipate Terrell Suggs leaving. Plus, they’ll have a tough decision to make next year when Matt Judon’s contract expires (he's not quite worth a franchise tag, but Judon fits the classic profile of a player destined to be overpaid in free agency). With Tim Williams’s and Tyus Bowser’s development so far being disappointing, the Ravens have multiple needs on the outside up front.
Who They Can Get
The Ravens will have a shot at a big receiver, whether it's super-sized slot receiver A.J. Brown of Ole Miss, contested-catch artist N'Keal Harry of Arizona State, or the hulking Hakeem Butler of Iowa State. All of them will be assets blocking in the run game. They could hop on the second-tier edge rushers as well, where Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson and Clemson's Clelin Ferrell. If they don't trade down, the 22nd overall pick might be Baltimore's only chance to get immediate help since they're not slated to pick again until Pick 85.
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