Five Questions Remaining for the Ravens After the Draft

The 2016 NFL Draft has come to an end, and the Ravens have selected their 11 picks. The Ravens made history in this year’s draft, specifically when they made five picks in the fourth round. After a 5-11 season, the Ravens are hoping that this year’s draft class has a big impact on the future.

Here is a look at what the Ravens picked:

Looking at the selections, the Ravens attacked their needs early – a big time offensive tackle and two pass rushers. The later selections were more centered around play-makers – two cornerbacks, two receivers and a running back.

To cut things up even more, here’s a list of what the Ravens walked away with by position:

  • 2 offensive tackles
  • 2 outside linebackers
  • 2 cornerbacks
  • 2 receivers
  • 1 defensive tackle
  • 1 running back
  • 1 defensive end

Now that the draft is over, there are still some questions that need to be answered. The roster may be shaped better than before the draft, but Ozzie Newsome’s work is still not done.

1. Who starts at inside linebacker along with CJ Mosley?

One could argue that with Daryl Smith’s departure to Tampa Bay, inside linebacker was a big need for the Ravens. Through free agency and the draft, the Ravens did not pick anyone up.

26_ZachOrr_news

The Ravens still have some options to start along CJ Mosley. Zach Orr is probably the favorite after he replaced Smith last season in passing situations. The Ravens also have former second round pick Arthur Brown and former 2010 undrafted free agent Albert McClellan on the roster, but neither of them have played significant snaps in their careers, including Orr. Despite this, the fact that the Ravens did not do anything to improve the inside linebacker position shows that they trust these guys to step up and play decently.

2. How will the offensive line look?

The writing could be on the wall for left tackle Eugene Monroe after the Ravens used their sixth overall pick on an offensive tackle.

Monroe has missed half of his starts since signing a five-year contract before the 2014 season, and has refused to renegotiate his contract in the past. Not to mention that throughout the offseason he has gone on a Twitter campaign for the legalization of medical marijuana for NFL players. All of these factors likely have Monroe in the Ravens doghouse, but there is still a possibility that he will be given a chance to be the starting left tackle in 2016.

zappos-signs-ronnie-stanleyAnother thing to consider is the fact that right tackle Rick Wagner will be a free agent after the 2016 season, so it makes sense that the Ravens first round pick was an offensive tackle. Should Monroe and Wagner both start week 1, the Ravens could always use first round pick Ronnie Stanley at left guard to start the season. Many pundits have pointed out that Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden played left guard in his first NFL season.

With center Jeremy Zuttah returning from injury, Marshall Yanda anchoring right guard and the potential to have Wagner, Monroe and Stanley all starting, the Ravens offensive line could be dominant in 2016. There is still a lot of uncertainty here, too, so we will see how it shakes out.

3. Why was a cornerback not taken sooner?

One of the biggest needs the Ravens have on their roster is at the cornerback position. Jimmy Smith just underwent a procedure to remove screws from his surgically repaired foot, and is still not 100 percent healthy. Shareece Wright played admiringly well in the second half of last season, but has still not completely proven himself worthy of being a starter. The other top cornerbacks the Ravens have are the disappointing Kyle Arrington and Will Davis, who tore his ACL least year.

With all of that being said, it is surprising that the Ravens did not address the secondary sooner in the draft. The Jaguars grabbed possibly the best player in the draft – Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey – right before the Ravens picked, which was a big disappointment because the Ravens were probably going to take Ramsey if he was still on the board.

Baltimore ended up drafting cornerback Tavon Young with their first selection in the fourth round, but due to his size his best chance in the secondary is probably at nickel. Baltimore also picked up cornerback Maurice Canady in the sixth round with their last selection.

This group of corners could turn out to be better than expected, but the same question about the Ravens struggling at corner has been discussed for a few years now.

4. Can the pass rush be dominant?

With Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil both on the wrong side of 30, and Suggs coming off of an achillies tear, the Ravens needed to improve their pass rush. They certainly did their best to get younger at this position.

KamaleiCorreaBoiseStateAfter trading back twice in the second round, the Ravens took Boise State outside linebacker Kamalei Correa at number 42 overall. Correa has 19 sacks and 30 tackles for loss over his last two collegiate seasons.

In the same night, the Ravens took BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi. Kaufusi is a 24-year-old rookie, but he has 28.5 career sacks, including 11 in his senior season.

To cap it all off, the Ravens drafted Grand Valley State outside linebacker Matt Judon in the fifth round. Judon led all of college football with 20 sacks last season, but appears to be raw according to some NFL scouts.

After owner Steve Bisciotti said at the season-ending press conference that he wanted to get younger in the pass rush, the Ravens certainly did that. With Suggs and Dumervil leading these three new rookies, along with second year player Zadarius Smith, the Ravens could have a very formidable pass rush for years to come.

5. Who makes the team at running back and receiver?

There will be plenty of depth at the play-making positions on offense next year. Here is a pool of what the Ravens had pre-draft:

Running backs:

  • Justin Forsett
  • Buck Allan
  • Lorenzo Taliaferro
  • Trent Richardson
  • Terrance West

Wide Receivers:

  • Steve Smith Sr.
  • Kamar Aiken
  • Breshad Perriman
  • Mike Wallace
  • Chris Mathews
  • Jeremy Butler
  • Marlon Brown
  • Michael Campanaro

As if the competition was not already tight, the Ravens used a couple draft picks to add to these options.

In round four, the Ravens drafted Cincinnati deep-threat wide receiver Chris Moore. With Mike Wallace being on a one-year contract, along with the uncertainty surrounding Breshad Perriman, snagging another deep threat for Joe Flacco was a good choice by the Ravens.

reynolds-keenan-121215-usnews-getty-ftr_2lfzedf1v63a1vmiwhj277h7vIn the sixth round, the Ravens drafted Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds will have an opportunity to make the team as a receiver and kick returner due to his big-play ability. Reynolds set FBS records for career touchdowns (88) and rushing yards for a quarterback (4,559).

Keep in mind that Reynolds has a five-year commitment to the Navy, so it is unclear whether or not he would be allowed to come out for training camp. A decision should be made on that soon.

At the running back position, the Ravens drafted Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round. Dixon put up 87 touchdowns in his collegiate career, which is second most in FBS history (Reynolds broke Dixon’s record with 88 touchdowns).

With the need for “game-changers” and play-makers a big concern, the Ravens got guys who have made several big plays in their collegiate careers with these picks. It will be interesting to see how the running back and wide receiver position battles turn out during training camp.

There is still time for the Ravens to address these five concerns. The supplemental draft is coming up for all of the undrafted rookies, and there are still some free agents out there who could hill some holes for Baltimore. With that being said, the big part of the NFL offseason is now complete, and it will soon be time for teams to start their offseason programs.

 

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