Trading back in the draft makes sense for the Ravens

If the team moves back into the Nos. 24 through 28 range, it could still acquire a quality player

April 21, 2014|Mike Preston

The Ravens will go over numerous scenarios in the days leading up to the NFL draft that might play out in the first round, but they probably won't make a move until they are on the clock with the No. 17 overall pick. And they could trade with another team and move back in the first round.

The consensus among most top team executives and so-called experts is that this is a deep draft, and that most of the top 10 to 15 players will be gone when it's time for the Ravens to choose.

So unless a highly rated player falls to the Ravens, general manager Ozzie Newsome could decide to move back to a slot between Nos. 24 and 28 in the first round. He could pick up another pick or two and still fill needs. Right now, the Ravens have pressing needs at free safety and along the offensive line, and must come away with depth at the running back and inside linebacker positions.

If they trade back in the first round, the Ravens could still end up with a quality player such as Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, Utah cornerback Keith McGill or Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has said Kelechi Osemele will start at left guard next season, but that could change with Osemele moving to right tackle, depending on whom the team drafts next month.

Kouandjio is versatile enough to play tackle or guard. Jernigan always hustles, and Newsome knows a team can never have enough defensive linemen. As for McGill, he is a tall cornerback and he's very physical, the perfect complement to Jimmy Smith, who starts on the other side.

Trading back is one of many options, but one being talked about more often at The Castle these days.

Workouts key

Offseason training and conditioning started this week, and it's crucial for the Ravens after finishing 8-8 in 2013. They also need to improve their image after appearing on the national crime blotter several times this offseason, with incidents involving running back Ray Rice, offensive lineman Jah Reid and wide receiver Deonte Thompson.

This is a good time for some young players, such as weak-side linebacker Arthur Brown and safety Matt Elam, to add some muscle.

Others, including offensive linemen Reid, Gino Gradkowski, Ryan Jensen and Rick Wagner and defensive tackle Terrence Cody, need to add muscle and speed.

Some players, such as receivers Aaron Mellette and Thompson, need the work in practice because they still have to prove they can be consistent, and running back Bernard Pierce and guard Marshal Yanda have to completely recover from shoulder injuries.

There are some veterans who need rehabilitation in other areas.

Nose tackle Haloti Ngata, who probably scoffed at and succeeded in avoiding a pay cut this offseason, needs to show good faith by getting his weight down for training camp.

Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs has to prove he can play an entire season without wearing down, and Rice could begin showing that last year was a fluke if he reports to training camp fit and ready to play.

Goodbye, for good

Enough is enough.

Four days after the Ravens reinstated linebacker Rolando McClain to the roster, he told ESPN he is retiring from football.

Again.

Last week, Newsome was justifiably criticized for bringing back McClain after the 24-year-old reportedly told several people that he was ready to play again.

This happened after he came late to the team's conditioning test and reportedly didn't make it all the way through. The Ravens were angry that the story got out because it embarrassed Newsome, the Ravens, the Alabama football program and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

Well, how does this new announcement make them all look? This intrigue around McClain has become a joke, and more fans are going to question Newsome about his ties to his alma mater, Alabama, and its players.

It's time the team cut McClain loose, just like failed Crimson Tide alumnus and former Ravens safety Ralph Staten.

Give Flacco time

It's just April, and some fans already are upset about quarterback Joe Flacco's not getting together with his wide receivers for private workouts at other locations outside of the Under Armour Performance Center.

If it were June and it hadn't happened, I would be concerned, but most of the team is just getting together this week for the first time since the end of last season.

Hey, give the $120.6 million man a break. It's way too early for such a bashing. This is like criticizing Ngata or Suggs right now because they are out of shape.

It's not time yet.

Let the fans watch

Since Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti opted not to let fans watch training camp two years ago, maybe he'll publicly show replays of the Ravens' scrimmages with the San Francisco 49ers from training camp.

A lot of fans are already buzzing about the practices, and it would be a good gesture and a public-relations gem for the team.

And we know the Ravens are all about good public relations.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

Ravens draft order

1st round: 17th overall

2nd round: 48th

3rd round: 79th/ 99th*

4th round: 134th*/138th*

5th round: 175th*

6th round: 194th

*Compensatory picks

(can't be traded)

Note: The Ravens traded fourth- and fifth-round picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for offensive tackle Eugene Monroe in October and dealt a seventh-rounder to the Indianapolis Colts for guard A.Q. Shipley in May.

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