The Ravens need turnover at multiple positions before opening day 2017. It’s been said more times than anyone can count, both during the season and after.
Cornerback, outside linebacker, offensive line depth, wide receiver, and inside linebacker are immediate problems. And that’s before free agency begins, when more problems could arise if Baltimore cannot secure Ricky Wagner and Brandon Williams.
It is surprising that the Ravens were in contention for a no. 3 seed in the playoffs until Christmas with so many holes in the roster.
The first round of the draft is every team’s most important. There’s more pressure than any other round. Each player is immediately held to a higher standard than anyone drafted after no. 32.
Mock drafts have been all over for Baltimore, so far. Corners, pass rush, wide receivers, basically any position other than quarterback or kicker could be addressed in round one.
Which position would you want Baltimore to select first?
Personally, I believe Baltimore’s secondary is one stud away from becoming top-5 in the league. Last season it ranked no. 10 (PFF), and that was without Jimmy Smith for parts of the year. A starting corner across from Smith, with Tavon Young in the slot, would form a trio that majority of NFL teams would covet. Pair them with second-year tandem Eric Weddle and Lardarius Webb and this secondary would survive the stretches with no pass rush from the front seven that came in 2016.
In Mel Kiper’s latest mock, he projected corner Sidney Jones to Baltimore. That would be a dream scenario seeing as many have Jones as a top-2 corner in this draft. Jones has superior cover skills and will be a no. 1 corner in the NFL.
Add Jones to this secondary, and it can improve to top-5 even when Smith gets injured. That will help this defense if the pass rushers need more than another offseason to develop.
The counter to this argument is that even with a below average pass rush, the secondary still ended up being no. 10, so why not improve the pass rush?
Well, as I stated, I believe this secondary is one stud away from being elite. The pass rush is not. If a corner is there that Baltimore believes can put the secondary over the top, why not take him?
Bolster the pass rush in Day 2 of the draft or even free agency. There isn’t enough money in the bank for Baltimore to spend on a big name corner from free agency right now.
Lastly, even with the secondary still ranked top-10, they were known to falter in big games in 2016 with or without Jimmy Smith.
Remember Derek Carr throwing four touchdowns, including a game winner, and no picks? Or Eli Manning throwing 200 yards and two touchdowns to Odell Beckham in the second half of a Baltimore loss. Or Tom Brady throwing a 79-yard touchdown to seal a game with late-season implications. And lastly, that gut-wrenching final touchdown to Antonio Brown every Ravens fan has had a nightmare about.
Secondary is the way to go in round one. The pass rush, offensive line, and other areas can afford to wait.