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What Will Ozzie Newsome Do With The Ravens' 16th Overall Pick Tonight?

oz

This is it. One last hurrah for Ozzie in the event that has made him one of the better GM’s this game has ever seen. The NFL Draft has been the pillar on which his 25+ years of success was built upon. Sure, some of that magic has waned in recent years, but he’s drafted quite possibly the greatest players to ever play the positions of offensive tackle, inside linebacker, and free safety. That’s quite an accomplishment to hang your hat on, and it’s enough to make me trust in him til the day he calls it quits. And this is that final year.

This year’s draft is one of the more intriguing drafts I can remember, both for the league as a whole and for the Ravens. They could go so many different ways with this draft. In recent years there was usually 2 or 3 positions you knew Ozzie and his team were going to scout intensively and target high in the draft. It usually played out that way, albeit not the guys one would expect or hope for (looking at you Breshad).

This year the Ravens could really go in any direction. The need for a WR receiver still exists, despite signing Crabtree, Brown, and Snead. Each of those guys have question marks and aren’t exactly long-term solutions. The future at pass-rusher continues to look murky, and we’re pretty fortunate that Sizzle has continued to be as effective as he has. Right tackle/center is another spot, contingent on where they see Alex Lewis playing long-term. Tight end is a revolving door of guys who can’t stay healthy, but there’s not really a talent worthy of a mid-1st rounder in this year’s draft. And of course… all the buzz is about the QB position.

Ozzie is so very unpredictable with which exact guy he goes for, so I’ll present a few of the guys that have been linked to the Ravens, and then I’ll address the elephant in the room.

Calvin Ridley, WR from Alabama

calvin ridley

You likely already know Calvin Ridley’s name. He’s the guy that followed in the footsteps of Amari Cooper and Julio Jones as Alabama’s go-to receiver tearing up the SEC. His game is a bit different from those guys though, with more of a lean towards Cooper.

He’s a guy who can make guys miss when you get him the ball in space, which isn’t exactly a guy that the Ravens have had in the past. They’ve had straight line speed guys, but they haven’t really had that guy who can catch a quick slant, break a backer’s ankles, and then wreak havoc in the open field. He’s absolutely electric when you can get him the ball.

The knock on him is his lack of physicality. He has decent height at 6’1, but he’s not terribly strong and can shy away from contact when thrown the ball over the middle. In particular he can have issues getting into his routes cleanly in press coverage, which is a huge element  when it comes to the timing of Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense. Countering press coverage is obviously a skill that can be learnt, so it’s not like it’s an issue that can’t be overcome… but overall I think this may keep him from ever being a true #1 receiver that would warrant a 16th overall pick. I expect he’ll have a good career wherever he goes, I just don’t foresee him being a perennial Pro Bowl guy.

DJ Moore, WR from Maryland

moore

You knew I was going to talk about DJ.

I have mixed thoughts on DJ Moore. I absolutely love the guy. All year I watched the guy play with terrible QB’s against double coverage and get his week in and week out. You don’t win Big Ten Receiver of the Year with 3rd string QB’s unless you can play. He’s an absolute dog, much in the same way that Stefon Diggs was coming out of Maryland. So my hope when he declared was that he would fly under the radar and be available late on Day 2 of the draft.

That’s not at all how it played out. DJ Moore lit the combine process on fire and draft pundits finally got around to watching all that Maryland tape that everyone rightfully ignored all season. The tape doesn’t lie. He’s got strong hands, he’s got speed, he’s got skill in space, he’s got skill in traffic… there’s just so much to like about the way he plays football. His height is similar to Ridley’s, his 40 time was nearly identical (4.43 vs 4.42)… his biggest problem is he didn’t play on CBS every Saturday night.

Having said that, I always have my hesitations about the guys who soar up draft boards during the process. That goes double for wide receivers. My gut says he can be great in the league, there’s just that seed of doubt. That’s probably a meatball take, but it is what it is.

OT Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame

mcglinch

McGlinchey is that safe pick that gets nobody real fired up, but deep down you know is the kind of pick that winning football franchises have to make from time to time.

Mike is a goddamn behemoth at 6’8 310 lbs. He started at Notre Dame since day 1 of his redshirt freshman year, with 2 years at right tackle and his last year at left tackle. Scouts say the right side is definitely his more natural side, but he was just too damn valuable for the Irish to keep off the left side last season. He’s quick for his size and a natural athlete who is a tactician at his craft. He’s also one of those guys that coaches rave about. Natural born leader, first guy in last guy out, brilliant football mind, yada yada yada. Notre Dame has been a factory of O-linemen in recent years, and adding him on the opposite side of Ronnie Stanley would set the line up for the next decade.

Lamar Jackson, QB from Louisville

Lamar

This is the aforementioned elephant in the room.

By far the most buzz about what the Ravens could do in this draft surrounds rumors that the Ravens are rating Lamar very high. That in itself is fine. I think Lamar is going to be a starting QB for many years in the NFL, and will probably have a better career than half of those big names everyone is talking about in the top 10. He’s accurate, obviously incredibly mobile, and I think his deep ball at Louisville was pretty underrated. But as it pertains to the timing for the Ravens… I’m not so sure.

I see the value to picking your next franchise QB. Obviously it’s a QB’s league, and it’s better to be out in front of getting your franchise QB’s successor than to be late on it. I just think it’s still a year or two too early to go this route on a 1st rounder.

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I really think the plan should be this. Draft a QB in the 3rd-4th round this year who is a bit more of project. This year that might be Mason Rudolph if he falls mid-2nd or even to the 3rd round, or maybe Luke Falk from Washington State. Whoever it is, he can work with the scout team, hold a clipboard for a couple years, and if the coaching staff likes what they see from him (similar to what Mike Shanahan and subsequently Jay Gruden saw in Kirk Cousins), give him the keys to the kingdom. If he’s not quite that guy, then no harm no foul. Somebody’s gotta be the backup QB. At that point down the road, you sell out on drafting your next franchise QB in the 1st round.

Bottom line is this. I don’t think Joe Flacco is at the end of his road by any means. Of course I’ve seen his play slip over the years. It’s frustrating for everyone involved. But we have to remember that he’s been given virtually no help on the offensive side of the ball since the Super Bowl year, and he missed all of training camp/preseason last year. The stats for the offense as a whole were there in the 2nd half of the season and while I don’t think his new WR corps is all-world, I do think it’s a modest upgrade over last year. Investing a 1st rounder on a QB at this point in time is just a hair ahead of schedule.

So with all of that said, I think I’ve made it clear that we should draft on the offensive side of the ball. Taking McGlinchey wouldn’t be all that thrilling, but I think it would be the right pick if the draft is rather chalky. But that’s just the thing. It never is. You can just about set your watch to Ozzie doing one of 3 things:

1. Taking an defensive Alabama player a good 10 spots ahead of where anybody projected him to go (these tend to turn out as great picks)

2. Trading back and collecting all dem sweet picks and getting the guy they wanted anyway

3. Taking a consensus Top 10 player who nobody foresaw falling to the Ravens spot

The common theme here is that nothing ever goes to plan. I can’t remember ever being locked in on a handful of guys pre-draft and then Ozzie actually taking one of those guys. He’s unpredictable, and more times than not that makes him one of the best. Either way it’s gonna be wild. Let’s enjoy this one last ride with the Wizard.

#InOzzieWeTrust