When the NFL draft kicks off around 8 p.m. Thursday night, the wait for a Ravens pick will begin. It could be a long one. The No. 22 pick in last year’s draft wasn’t taken until 10:30 p.m. In Eric DeCosta’s case, that might be when the night’s fun really starts.
“We have five picks,” the Ravens general manager said earlier this month at the team’s predraft news conference. “We wish we had more. Our goal is probably to get more along the way, if we can, depending on how things fall, but we see a great opportunity for us to add some quality players and to be a better football team come September.”
The Ravens’ biggest need this offseason hasn’t changed: Work things out with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has yet to sign his franchise tag tender. For at least this weekend, though, the front office is expected to shift its focus. A relatively meager stockpile of draft picks — just one apiece in the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth round — will have to grow. Three months after another season ended with a quick playoff exit, the Ravens need quantity and quality from their rookie class.
Trade with Giants: Ravens send No. 22 overall pick to New York for Nos. 25, 128 (Round 4) and 209 (Round 6)
The Ravens have five picks and won’t mind trading down. The Giants have 10 picks and might not mind moving up to grab a sure-thing first-round talent. Sounds like a match.
Trade with Saints: Ravens send No. 25 overall pick to New Orleans for Nos. 29, 115 (Round 4) and 227 (Round 7)
The Ravens traded down twice in the first round in 2018, and they could do it again Thursday night. With three standout defensive backs still available — Maryland’s Deonte Banks, Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes and Alabama’s Brian Branch — there’s no need to stay put.
Round 1 (No. 29 overall): Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks
The predraft buzz around Banks is building. If he’s the third cornerback taken in the draft, he might not even be available at No. 22. But in this scenario, Banks makes perfect sense. He’s a first-round pick, giving the Ravens control over his contract for up to five years. He’s an elite athlete with a “bully” mindset, which fits the defense’s ethos. And he could step in and start at a position of need, rounding out a secondary with impressive pedigree at nearly every position.
The 6-foot, 197-pound Banks is far from a finished product. He struggled at times to stay in phase with receivers when he couldn’t win early in press coverage. But he’s smooth in zone schemes, difficult to beat on vertical routes and got his hand on passes more often than all but a few corners in this draft class, according to Sports Info Solutions. The Ravens need another outside cornerback to pair with Marlon Humphrey, and Banks has all the makings of a longtime starter.
Just missed: Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers. Snubbed: Alabama safety Brian Branch.
Round 3 (No. 86): Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims
The Ravens’ past two third-round wide receivers, Devin Duvernay (2020) and Miles Boykin (2019), haven’t turned into high-impact players, at least on offense. That doesn’t mean the front office can’t find one this year. Mims was the sixth receiver taken in just this third round, and he might be one of the draft’s most explosive playmakers. He averaged 8.2 yards after the catch per reception last season, according to SIS, and finished with 1,083 receiving yards overall (20.1 yards per catch).
Mims played out wide and in the slot at Oklahoma, where he also handled kickoffs and punt returns. With his impressive speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash) and smaller frame (5-11, 183 pounds), he projects as a rotational rookie receiver and possible replacement for Duvernay, who’s entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens bolstered their receiving corps in free agency by signing Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, but more investment is necessary in a position dogged by injuries and inconsistency.
Just missed: Houston wide receiver Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. Snubbed: Wake Forest wide receiver A.T. Perry.
Round 4 (No. 115): Clemson edge rusher K.J. Henry
Despite one of the lowest sack rates in the draft class, Henry often found his way to the quarterback last season, averaging 3.3 pressures per game, according to SIS. He was athletic enough (4.63-second 40-yard dash) to slip past guards on stunts and twists and long enough to hold his own as an edge-setting run defender. Henry’s character also stands out; at Clemson last year, he helped organize a fundraiser to cover the expenses for his father’s life-saving kidney transplant.
Without a go-to pass-rush move or imposing frame (6-4, 251 pounds), Henry could struggle early in his career to earn regular snaps on the edge. But the Ravens need depth behind outside linebackers Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo. Henry’s high motor and physical tools would serve him well on a defense that needs help on early downs.
Just missed: Army edge rusher Andre Carter II. Snubbed: UAB running back DeWayne McBride.
Round 4 (No. 124): Texas defensive lineman Moro Ojomo
Ojomo is light for an interior lineman (6-3, 292 pounds), but with his long arms (88th percentile at the position) and impressive athleticism, he can more than hold his own inside. According to SIS, Ojomo finished eighth among defensive line prospects in pressure rate (11%), forced ball-carriers to bounce away from their intended gap at the third-highest rate (44%), and posted the best broken-and-missed-tackle rate (5%) at the position. As a 21-year-old fifth-year senior in 2022, he had five tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks.
Even if the Ravens find developmental pieces in later rounds or among the undrafted class, they can’t wait too long to draft a three-technique lineman (aligned over a guard’s outside shoulder) like Ojomo. Projected starters Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington are set to reach free agency next year, along with reserve Brent Urban. Given the uncertainty around Jackson’s contract situation, it could be tough to bring back one starter, let alone both.
Just missed: Iowa cornerback Riley Moss. Snubbed: Tulane inside linebacker Dorian Williams.
Round 4 (No. 128): Sacramento State inside linebacker-safety Marte Mapu
A torn pectoral muscle kept the 6-3, 221-pound Mapu from testing during the predraft process, but his production at the Football Championship Subdivision level was undeniable. He was named a first-team All-American and the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season after posting 6 1/2 tackles for loss (one sack), six pass defenses and two interceptions in 13 games. Mapu played 58.8% of his defensive snaps in the slot in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus, and another 28.7% in the box. He even lined up occasionally as a deep safety.
That kind of versatility gets noticed in Baltimore. Mapu, who visited the Ravens before the draft, had Kyle Hamilton-like responsibilities at Sacramento State, taking on blockers aggressively in run defense and getting to his spots in zone coverage. A significant learning curve likely awaits Mapu, but with Hamilton expected to move back to safety, there’s a hole at nickelback in coordinator Mike Macdonald’s defense. Mapu could also help the depth at inside linebacker and contribute on special teams.
Just missed: Tulane inside linebacker Dorian Williams. Snubbed: UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Round 5 (No. 149): UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson
The Ravens have been linked to Georgia’s Stetson Bennett in the later rounds, and a reunion with former Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken wouldn’t be surprising. But Thompson-Robinson offers more as a potential backup. He rushed for over 600 yards in 2021 and 2022, showing off his 4.56-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and completed 69.6% of his passes last year. The 6-2, 203-pound Thompson-Robinson also has solid arm strength, even if his downfield accuracy can be lacking.
If Jackson returns as an injury-prone QB1, the Ravens will need more from their backup in 2023. The competition could be wide open in training camp. Tyler Huntley struggled at times last summer, when tendinitis in his throwing shoulder first flared up, and he ultimately couldn’t build on a promising 2021. A new playbook and offensive coordinator should level the playing field, too.
Just missed: USC guard Andrew Vorhees. Snubbed: Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.
Trade with Broncos: Ravens send No. 209 overall pick (Round 6) and No. 227 (Round 7) to Denver for No. 195 (Round 6)
The Ravens have made one seventh-round pick over the past four years: safety Geno Stone, drafted in 2020 and waived early in his rookie year. Team officials typically prefer to wrap up the draft early and get to work on high-priority undrafted free agents.
Round 6 (No. 195): Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh
Monken already got one reunion with the signing of Beckham, the former Cleveland Browns star who had his last 1,000-yard season in 2019. McIntosh would be another familiar face. As the Bulldogs’ lead running back last year, he rushed for 829 yards (5.5 per carry) and 10 touchdowns and had 43 catches for 504 yards and two scores, with no drops. Poor predraft testing has hurt McIntosh’s stock — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at the NFL scouting combine — but he’s a gifted receiver and physical runner.
Uncertain futures await the Ravens’ top three running backs from last year. Only Justice Hill is under contract beyond 2023. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who missed time last year while recovering from season-ending knee injuries, have to prove they can withstand the rigors of a full season. McIntosh would give the group some fresh legs and probably its safest pair of hands.
Just missed: Michigan edge rusher Mike Morris. Snubbed: Shepherd guard Joey Fisher.
Round 6 (No. 199): Shepherd guard Joey Fisher
Like a lot of Division II stars, Fisher’s an under-the-radar prospect. The 25-year-old doesn’t have a draft profile on NFL.com. He wasn’t draftable on PFF’s mock simulator. The Hagerstown native and former Maryland commit couldn’t even practice at the Senior Bowl after he suffered a broken bone at the base of his pinkie finger while pass-blocking.
But for a Ravens team that needs interior linemen, the powerful 6-4, 296-pound Fisher could be a hidden gem. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 40 times at Shepherd’s pro day, beating the combine’s top mark, and ran the 40 in 4.97 seconds. A first-team All-American who played exclusively at right tackle, Fisher’s expected to transition to guard in the NFL.
Just missed: Michigan offensive tackle Ryan Hayes. Snubbed: UCLA guard Antonio Mafi.