The Baltimore Ravens continue to deal with the fallout of ongoing contract negotiations with quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson officially requested a trade in early March. Jackson’s situation continues to loom large as the Ravens head toward the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Ravens could draft a mid-round quarterback to protect themselves against a potential Jackson departure. General manager Eric DeCosta must address other deficiencies as well, particularly at wide receiver and cornerback. With the first wave of free agency delivering some clarity regarding the Ravens’ remaining needs, here’s what a seven-round draft for the Ravens might look like if it occurred right now.
Round 1 (No. 22 overall): Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State
Baltimore’s offense requires better pass-catching weapons regardless of who plays quarterback next season. Recurring injuries have hampered Rashod Bateman’s ability to develop into a No. 1 receiver. It’s time for Baltimore to add another playmaker.
Smith-Njigba is the most technically-advanced receiver in the draft. Smith-Njigba is a high-level route-runner that quickly uncovers and makes himself available to his quarterback. Smith-Njigba’s outstanding footwork and body control make him an easy projection to the next level.
Round 3 (No. 86 overall): Kyu Blu Kelly CB, Stanford
Baltimore’s passing defense allowed a 26th-ranked 232.2 passing yards per contest in 2022. The Ravens haven’t addressed the position in free agency. They signed Trayvon Mullen to a one-year prove-it deal. Veterans like Marcus Peters and Kyle Fuller are free agents. Neither player is expected to re-sign with the Ravens.
As things stand, the likes of Brandon Stephens and Damarion Williams could be set to play significant snaps opposite Marlon Humphrey. Blu Kelly is an athletic cover man that thrives in press-man. Blu Kelly would add much-needed competition to Baltimore’s cornerback room.
Round 4 (No. 124 overall): Tanner McKee WR, Ohio State
Anthony Brown is the lone quarterback under contract with the Ravens. There’s approximately one month to go, but Baltimore can’t possibly exit the draft with that being the case. Baltimore placed the lowest restricted tender on Tyler Huntley, who has yet to officially sign his tender and may still search for a more fruitful opportunity elsewhere.
Stanford’s McKee is a pro-ready quarterback prospect. McKee operated a pro-style offense in college. McKee has some David Mills-like tendencies, which means he could get the Ravens through a difficult situation in a pinch if the Jackson situation continues taking ugly turns.
Round 5 (No. 157 overall): DJ Johnson EDGE, Oregon
The Ravens have invested a lot in the EDGE position in recent years, drafting both Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo. Aging veteran Justin Houston still led the team in sacks last season. Houston is currently an unrestricted free agent. Baltimore should continue adding young talent to the position, especially in designated pass-rushing roles.
Johnson is being underrated throughout this process. Johnson possesses outstanding size and is a plus-level athlete. Johnson was awfully productive in 2022, recording career-highs in sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (8.5).
Round 6 (No. 199 overall): DeMarcco Hellams SAF, Alabama
Hellams made an incredible impression on NFL decision-makers at the Senior Bowl. Hellams is extremely versatile, playing both in the box and at deep safety. The Ravens need more depth at safety after trading Chuck Clark to the New York Jets earlier this month.
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