Ravens Not Expected To Trade Back Out Of First Round?

Those who have followed the Ravens over the past several years may be a little surprised to hear that, sitting at the back end of the first round, the Ravens are not expected to trade back out of the first round. Team writers Clifton Brown and Ryan Mink noted after a pre-draft press conference this week that it would take a “premium” trade offer for the team to move down.

Trading back was a common practice for former general manager Ozzie Newsome, whether just moving back later into the first round or outside of the first round altogether in order to acquire more draft capital. Eric DeCosta, Newsome’s successor, has taken a bit of the opposite approach, twice trading players to obtain an extra first-round selection. DeCosta has been shown to value the fifth-year option that is standard on the contracts of first-round draft picks much more highly than Newsome did.

The Ravens aren’t in desperate need for more draft picks (they have nine at this point in the process), but the franchise has been notorious for hitting on early-Day Three picks. The team is also known for ignoring positions of need in favor of the “best player available” mentality. If they don’t feel the players available by the time their pick rolls around are worth their draft slot or are “must have” players, Baltimore still may opt to move down. Regardless, DeCosta has hopes that a player ranked in their own top-20 rankings finds their way down to the 30th pick. If not, the team would look for a team willing to give up a good haul to move back into Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

So, what are the Ravens going to be looking for at their draft slot? The team has reportedly been continuously linked to offensive tackles and wide receivers so far in the pre-draft process. While those are positions of need in most people’s eyes, those are also the positions that the team’s analysis tells them will have the most-valuable prospects still around that late in the draft. Proof of that thinking can be found in their approach to a first-round cornerback. Cornerback is also a glaring need for the Ravens, but the depth of the position likely won’t keep the draft’s better cornerbacks available that late into the first round, so Baltimore will focus more on the line and receiving corps.

Another position they may go to at No. 30 overall is edge rusher. The team knows that the top-end pass rushers will not be around late in the first round, so they are doing their homework on the second-tier players at the position. A few of those second-tier guys rank from the 25th to the 45th best prospects on the Ravens’ board, so DeCosta could hope to land one at 30 or 62, depending on the value available.

Lastly, DeCosta told the media that there is a “strong chance” that Baltimore will draft a running back at some point in the draft. The signing of veteran bell-cow Derrick Henry certainly reduced the need to draft a rusher early, but a lack of significant depth at the position makes adding a rookie a likely scenario. The rookie back will join Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell, coming back from knee surgery, behind Henry on the depth chart.

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