An In-Depth Look at Ravens Needs with 2020 NFL Draft Approaching Via MMQB
It's no secret the Ravens need to add a linebacker in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Two playmakers being closely linked to Baltimore are Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen of LSU.
The experts at Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback agree linebacker will be a key focus of the Ravens' draft.
"None of Baltimore’s needs are dire, but all are definite," SI's Andy Benoit writes. "Start with the defense. If the season began today, Baltimore would trot out at linebacker ex-Steeler L.J. Fort, who is competitive and quick but not a true three-down player, and undrafted third-year pro Chris Board, who was prone to mental mistakes in the few snaps he got last season."
General manager Eric DeCosta will also look to strengthen the defensive backs room even though the team has talented players in the back end, including cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, along with safeties Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark.
"Defensive back is also a consideration," Benoit wrote. "The recent re-signings of cornerback Jimmy Smith and safety Anthony Levine make Baltimore once again deep enough here, but it’s imperative to always be cultivating talent here because, even with Matt Judon being franchise-tagged and veteran superstar Calais Campbell coming aboard, the Ravens are not rich in natural pass rushers.
"Thus, they must generate pressure schematically, which requires defensive backs who are smart enough to disguise looks and talented enough to cover without help."
The Ravens also need to find potential replacements for tight end Hayden Hurst, a former first-round pick that was traded to Atlanta, and right guard Marshal Yanda, who decided to retire after 13 seasons.
Here is the entire draft analysis by Sports Illustrated's Gary Gramling:
Top-100 Targets (Baltimore owns picks 28, 55, 60, 92 and 106):
It’s not a great linebacker class, but there’s a chance one of the top two will make it to the end of Round 1. LSU’s Patrick Queen was just scratching the surface of his immense potential last year and could be a three-down stud, while Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray is a run-and-chase athlete but can be slow to process.
The best of the second-tier LBs, Ohio State’s Malik Harrison and Wyoming’s Logan Wilson, have limitations in coverage. A theme in this draft is the depth at wide receiver, so even if Baltimore passes on someone like Clemson’s Tee Higgins in Round 1, on Day 2 they could have their choice of big receivers like Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool (a better version of 2019 third-round pick Miles Boykin, also out of Notre Dame), South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards or Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden.
The draft is short on athletic interior linemen—if neither linebacker is available late in the first, maybe Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz is the pick. On Day 2, the possibilities include Clemson’s John Simpson, powerful but not a great fit in Baltimore, LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry, or perhaps they see Louisiana’s Robert Hunt as a guard rather than a tackle.
MMQB's look at the entire AFC North: (https://www.si.com/nfl/2020/03/25/nfl-draft-team-needs-afc-north)