Ravens Should Trade Down: A Modest Trade Proposal

April 12, 2009 by

By Isaac Barrow

As you may and should know, the NFL Draft is in 13 days. NFL GMs are going crazy trying to figure out who “the guy” is. Some teams will be finding their future quarterback. Some will be addressing the running back, wide receiver or cornerback need. All in all, this calls for an exciting draft. Of course, the contending teams are in the 20’s of the draft and the mediocre (Bills) to awful teams (Lions) have top 15 picks. The Baltimore Ravens have the 26th overall pick and it looks as if they will be addressing the wide receiver need. However, it looks as if the receivers the Ravens are targeting will be off the board at 26. Jeremy Maclin, worst case scenario, will go at 18 to the Chicago Bears. Darrius Heyward-Bey’s stock is soaring and could find himself with the Raiders, Buccaneers, Jets or Bears. It’s unlikely he’ll fall. Percy Harvin doesn’t quite fill the need, as he seems to be a Mark Clayton clone – a guy who can makes the catches, but doesn’t have the impact on a game Joe Flacco needs. Michael Crabtree is easily a top ten pick.

Then, that leaves the Ravens with 2nd round receivers like Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks and Brian Robiskie. Now, the Ravens have a great tradition of taking the best player available, and as we have seen, that has worked out for them. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Jon Ogden, Peter Boulware, Joe Flacco, Le’Ron McClain, Haloti Ngata, Ben Grubbs and Adalius Thomas are a few guys that turned out good.

However, the Ravens need to keep in mind that the best player available might be at a position they don’t need, like running back, safety, quarterback or defensive tackle. The Ravens have some age issues at linebacker, but it looks as if Rey Maualuga, Aaron Curry and Brian Cushing won’t be available at 26. The Ravens might also pursue a cornerback or tight end in the draft, just to add more depth. There aren’t any real cornerbacks who stand out in my mind as guys who can step in right away and make an impact – especially with Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington and Chris Carr in town. Vontae Davis is a good player, but is a ‘boom-or-bust’ guy. Malcolm Jenkins won’t be available, as he seems to be a top ten pick. The Ravens might also pursue tight end, but Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew will likely be a Bill or Eagle when it’s all said and done.

So, that leaves the Ravens with few options with the first pick. Of course, I may be wrong. There are tons of draft day surprises. We all remember Brady Quinn being 22nd a few years back. We also remember Joe Flacco, an unknown who couldn’t even start at Pittsburgh, being 18th overall last year. So, it’s possible that one of those gamebreaking receivers will be available and then I say the Ravens should take one of them. Heyward-Bey is obviously speedy, tall and has vertical abilities.

While Harvin seems like Mark Clayton in my mind, some compare him to Steve Smith, and when healthy, Harvin can be as valuable to an offense as Chris Johnson was this year with Tennessee. Maclin may fall, but I doubt it. So, what should the Ravens do? If I were Oz, I would be exploring the option of trading the first round pick for an early second.

While I do think Britt and Nicks are first round talents, scouts don’t seem to agree with me. Britt has fallen out of the first round because of the higher-profile guys ahead of him, and since Nicks has gained lots of weight since the combine, scouts are worried and he no longer seems like a first round guy. That’s why I think the Ravens should trade their 26th overall pick to the St. Louis Rams for the 35th overall pick, third of the second round. It is likely Nicks and Britt will still be there, so Oz and other Ravens execs like Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz can kick themselves over which one is a better player. That’s a good problem to have. Nicks and Britt both have huge upsides. While Nicks had gained about 15 pounds since the combine, he’s a flat-out playmaker. He carried the UNC offense by himself.

While Brandon Tate and Richard Quinn were also good pass catchers, Tate got injured after just 16 receptions and Quinn wasn’t used as much as head coach Butch Davis may have liked. Britt is taller and faster, so he would be a good option. Britt also carried the Rutgers offense last year after it was stung by the loss of Ray Rice.

The Ravens could also use their other second round pick on a tight end or linebacker, where lots of great players will be available. Richard Quinn, the UNC tight end I previously mentioned, is one of the best all-around tight ends in this year’s draft. While he might not be a second round pick, he’d be a fourth-round steal, as he is a great blocker and it showed the UNC offense didn’t utilize him well, as he caught just eight passes for 97 yards.

However, John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron stressed utilizing the Ravens offensive players well, and they did so accordingly. Quinn may be a reach in the second round, but there would be other guys available. Two other all around tight ends the Ravens may want to look at are Jared Cook out of South Carolina and Shawn Nelson out of Southern Miss. I’m sure the Ravens have been in contact with them, as Cam Cameron has a tendency to turn offensive players into stars, as he did with Le’Ron McClain, Joe Flacco and is in the process of doing with Ray Rice. He turned Antonio Gates into a premier tight end, like in 2006, when he caught 71 passes for 924 yards and nine touchdowns.

Let’s say those two tight ends aren’t available. Other guys the Ravens should take a look at are Clint Sintim (LB, Virginia) and Darry Beckwith (LB, LSU). Heck, I would love it if the Ravens got a receiver with their last second round pick. Brian Robiskie would be an excellent selection, as he is tall, speedy and has great football intelligence. Let’s say the Ravens aren’t really thrilled with the prospects of getting Nicks or Britt with their initial second round pick. Larry English is a guy I expect to fall. He has great burst as a defensive end, and while the Ravens have a stingy defense, they haven’t had a guy who can rack up lots of sacks in a while, and English would be that guy. Last year as a senior for Northern Illinois, he had 37 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

It’s a lot of confusion, but it’ll all be clear on April 25th, 2009!

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