With the 26th Pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Ravens Select…

| April 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

ravensThe NFL Draft is tonight and for months we have seen all the prognosticators give their predictions on who the 32 teams in the NFL will be picking. The draft is more important in the NFL than in any other league as we have seen teams go from missing the playoffs to a playoff contender after one good draft. Additionally, the NFL’s most consistent franchises are almost always those that perform well in the draft. Certainly it is a crap-shoot as you never know how these players will handle being in the NFL, but extensive research will be done by each front office before making a selection.

The Ravens pick at number 26 in the first round and very few teams, if any, have had the Ravens’ level of success in the draft. While the Ravens made the playoffs and won a playoff game last season, there are a still a lot of holes that need to be filled. So what direction will they go in the draft?

Here are five possibilities for the Ravens in the first round.

1. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St.

If my buddy Dave Burton was running the draft, Strong would be the Ravens pick before 10 seconds even came off their draft clock. However, Ozzie Newsome and company will likely make their decision a little bit more deliberately, but Strong may very well be the pick. Strong is the exact opposite type of receiver that Torrey Smith was and that may be precisely what the Ravens are looking for. A big strong receiver with big hands, Strong’s best feature may be his ability to catch the contested pass (something that Torrey Smith seemingly never did) and this makes any quarterback and offense better.

With a receiver like this, Flacco can take more chances trusting that his receiver will come down with the ball. Strong ran a decent 40-yard dash time and is by no means a speed merchant, but has far more positives that outweigh his lack of speed. I still am yet to believe the Ravens will take a chance on any “big time” receiver in round one. Strong also still has developing to do. He can flourish with Flacco as his quarterback and would be better value in the 2nd round, but if the Ravens like him a lot, they probably wouldn’t be able to wait past the 1st round to get him.

2. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

A few years ago I would be all in on wanting the Ravens to draft a possible “elite” running back in round one, but as of 2015, I think it is dying position in the NFL. Trent Richardson was the running back drafted in the Top 5 and to call his career a disappointment would be an understatement. While running back is still a very important position, some of the best backs in the league were drafted after the first round and teams seem to find successful backs off the “scrap heap.”

While Gordon is talented (although I think Gurley is the best back in this draft by far), I do not think it is wise to spend a first round pick on him. With all that being said, it is hard for me to trust Justin Forsett and I wonder how much the Ravens trust him as well (despite signing him to a new contact.) If Forsett’s success was just a product of Gary Kubiak’s system, the running game is in trouble. Gordon is an explosive back who can run by people but isn’t viewed as a three-down back and is not a good pass catcher. If my team is going to draft a running back in round one, I hope it will be a three-down running back. I would rather have them address the running back position with a guy like Duke Johnson who they can get later in the draft. That being said, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Gordon as the pick.

3. Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Collins burst on the scene as a high school senior in the Under Armour All-America game when he made his choice to attend Alabama (…his mother was more than displeased with this choice saying she wanted him to go to LSU.) Despite his mother’s reaction, Collins excelled at Alabama and is the best safety in the draft. There have not been many people projecting him to go to the Ravens (as it is likely he will get chosen earlier) but it is a major need to for them and given Ozzie Newsome’s affinity for Alabama players, he may be someone the Ravens are willing to trade up for.

Collins is an absolute monster against the run, but has the physicality and size to play tight end in pass coverage. He is also above average in coverage. His lack of speed is concerning, but his overall ability to play the ball when it’s in the air is something Matt Elam can’t do. Would I like his speed and pass coverage skills to be better? Yes, but they are certainly better than any other safety currently on the Ravens roster. If he is still on the board around pick # 20, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens make a play and come up and get him. I still however think this a long shot, but it would be a tremendous pick for the Ravens and he might be the player I covet the most for the Ravens.

4. Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

I did not put Dorial Green-Beckham as a possibility due to his character issues. While Peters has some character concerns of his own, his are nowhere to the extent of DGB’s thus making him in play for the Ravens. Peters was kicked off the team after a dispute with a coach and has a red flag of being “un-coachable,” but that stuff does not lead to suspensions or jail time so taking a chance on him in round one is fine with me.

On the field, Peters is an absolute beast and could be an elite cornerback in this league. Peters is said to have tremendous fluidity in his hips and has a great ability to track the ball in the air and come down with “50/50” balls. He can play vertical receivers and absolutely shuts down average receivers. 

The signing of Jimmy Smith to a long-term extension might make the Ravens a little less desperate for a cornerback, but how confident can they really be in Lardarius Webb or anyone else on the roster outside of Smith? Given some of the talented receivers that Ravens will face this season and in the playoffs (should they get there), it will be beneficial to have as many talented cornerbacks on the roster as possible. I would love this selection if the Ravens were to choose Peters.

5. Trade Up or Down

I keep hearing people say “this could be the year the Ravens trade up,” but I will believe it when I see it. While there are a couple of players who I believe can be “franchise changers,” such as Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley, it is not like the Ravens to sell the farm to move up in the draft. If they do trade up, look for it to just be a few spots to get someone high on their board who they didn’t expect to be there. Someone always falls further than they were projected to go, so it is likely there will be a player the Ravens like in the middle of the 1st round. Conversely, if there is nobody still left on their board who they have a 1st round grade on, they will likely not hesitate to trade down, possibly out of the 1st round completely. If they are going to trade the pick, I would be willing to bet they trade down as opposed to up, but you never know.

Certainly there will be a lot of mock drafts done, rumors mentioned, and projections made before tonight, but nobody knows what these teams are actually going to do until they are on the clock. The only thing I can guarantee is that Ozzie Newsome is smarter than all of us and while some people won’ t be happy with the pick in the 1st round, it will likely work out for the Ravens.

For now I am going to stop predicting anything and just get ready to sit back, enjoy a beverage and watch the Ravens try and find their next great player.

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About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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