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Ravens Insider: Ravens’ 5 biggest needs entering NFL draft and how they could fill them


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The Ravens’ draft board is mostly set at this point. Save for a few “tweaks,” as general manager Eric DeCosta put it earlier this month, they have a pretty good idea of whom they will draft at No. 30 in the first round and beyond, with adjustments made along the way based on who’s still available.

Unlike last year, when Baltimore entered the draft with just five picks — its fewest since 1999 — DeCosta has nine selections this time.

Given the various holes on the roster after more than a dozen players from last year’s 13-4 team headed elsewhere because of free agency or other moves, the Ravens will need every one of them.

If they are to compete for another AFC North title and their first Super Bowl appearance in more than a decade, they have to find several players who can contribute as rookies, and in some cases significantly so. That’s just one reason DeCosta could look to add even more picks to this year’s haul with a draft day trade or two, with the belief that the more picks he has, the more likely he can find players who can make an immediate impact.

“It’s great to have additional picks,” DeCosta said during the team’s predraft news conference two weeks ago. “You certainly have to have players that you covet and that you want to draft. So, that’s always a factor with every draft.

“I always think about it as, ‘What picks do you need to get the players that you want to take?’ You can have some great picks, but if the board doesn’t fall the right way, and you’re looking at a bunch of players that aren’t any better than the players you have on your roster, those picks don’t really help you very much. I like the idea of having more picks, but I want to have more picks in a specific range in the draft. If we can get that done, then I could see us being in a good position to really maximize our chances to find good players.”

In terms of those players and what the Ravens need most, here’s a look at the positions they’re most likely to fill in the draft, which begins Thursday night in Detroit.

Offensive line

With three starters from last season’s line having departed via free agency or trade, this is easily the Ravens’ biggest need in terms of sheer volume. Gone are guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler, signing lucrative deals with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions, respectively, while right tackle Morgan Moses was dealt to the Jets in a draft pick swap.

Coach John Harbaugh said earlier this month that there are “absolutely” young players already on the roster who can step in, but all of them have question marks.

Is Daniel Faalele ready to take a sizable leap forward in Year 3 to become an every-down starter at tackle? Did Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu improve enough from his rookie year after getting beaten out by Simpson last summer? How will guard Andrew Vorhees fare after missing his rookie season because of a torn ACL? Baltimore has versatile veterans in Patrick Mekari and Josh Jones, but they are mostly rotational players.

The good news for Baltimore is that the two deepest positions of this draft class are offensive line and wide receiver. The Ravens have also drafted at least two offensive linemen in six of the past eight drafts, so don’t expect this one to be any different.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talks with wide receiver Rashod Bateman during practice at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)
Ravens coach John Harbaugh talks with wide receiver Rashod Bateman during practice last season. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

Wide receiver

There’s certainly an argument to be made that this is the Ravens’ biggest need, with second-year receiver Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman and unspectacular but dependable veteran Nelson Agholor the top three on the depth chart and the group thin after that.

The only other receivers on the roster are Tylan Wallace, who has played mostly on special teams his first three seasons, and Sean Ryan, who played zero snaps as a rookie last year. The good news is, it’s a deep class.

There should be plenty of opportunities for the Ravens to add an immediate contributor to this group, whether that’s early in the draft or in the middle rounds. Given the abundance of offensive linemen and receivers, it’s possible Baltimore could trade out of the first round, acquire an extra pick or two and bolster both positions.

Edge rusher

The Ravens made a smart decision to bring back veteran outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who had a career-high nine sacks last season. Signed for $9 million over two years, he’s a much more affordable option than Jadeveon Clowney, whom the Carolina Panthers are paying $20 million over two seasons after he recorded 9 1/2 sacks for the Ravens last year.

There are questions about the rest of the Ravens’ pass rushers, though, including whether Odafe Oweh can somehow find consistency in Year 4 and if David Ojabo can remain healthy after essentially missing his first two seasons because of injuries.

Baltimore has a history of signing veteran pass rushers during the summer and it’s a route they’ll likely take again with some options still out there, including Emmanuel Ogbah, Yannick Ngakoue and Shaq Lawson. Unlike the offensive line and wide receiver class, this is not a deep draft or even one with high-end talent.

Consider the strong chance that the top pass rushers will likely be off the board before the Ravens are on the clock, and it’s less likely they’ll find a major contributor via the draft.

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Stephens, #21, and safety Geno Stone, #26, work on pass coverage drills at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)
With safety Geno Stone, right, in Cincinnati and cornerback Brandon Stephens, left, entering the final year of his deal, the Ravens need reinforcements in the secondary. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)


The Ravens are in good shape with Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens on the outside and Arthur Maulet returning in the slot. Baltimore also signed free agent Ka’Dar Hollman, though the 29-year-old has just two starts across three seasons and has mostly played special teams and as a depth piece in the defensive backfield.

Beyond that, the group, much like the receiving corps, is thin.

Things only get more concerning when factoring in Humphrey’s age (he turns 28 in July), recent injuries (foot and calf in 2023) and pricey contract ($22.8 million cap hit in 2024). Stephens, meanwhile, is set to become a free agent after this upcoming season and could become cost-prohibitive given rising contract figures and other players who will become extension-eligible at the same time, notably All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton and Pro Bowl center Tyler Linderbaum.

Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis, meanwhile, have struggled to be consistent, both in their play and ability to stay on the field.

The Ravens like to say they take a “best player available” approach in the draft, and a cornerback such as Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry might check that box near the end of Round 1.


Much like cornerback, Baltimore has no concern with its top two players at the position, Hamilton and Marcus Williams. But the Ravens like to use three safeties, and Geno Stone’s departure to the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals leaves a void.

The Ravens have Ar’Darius Washington, but he was used primarily in the slot last season. Stephens, originally tabbed for a safety role last year, gives them flexibility, but moving him would stress the outside.

If either Hamilton or Williams gets injured, as the latter did last year, there would be a big problem. Adding another player to the rotation either in free agency or the draft makes sense.

NFL draft

Round 1: Thursday, 8 p.m.

Rounds 2-3: Friday, 7 p.m.

Rounds 4-7: Saturday, noon

TV: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network

Ravens draft picks

Round 1: No. 30

Round 2: No. 62

Round 3: No. 93

Round 4: No. 113 (from Denver Broncos through Jets)

Round 4: No. 130

Round 5: No. 165

Round 6: No. 218

Round 7: No. 228 (from Jets)

Round 7: No. 250

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