The Baltimore Ravens could trade the pick at No. 22 overall, but if they make a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, it could be one of the following options that address a top-three need.
As it stands, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta only has five picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Usually, he tends to favor having more picks, or more chances to throw at the dart board based on his drafting history, and with no second-round pick (Roquan Smith trade), it seems likely a trade could be coming. But if Baltimore can’t find a trade partner and pick at 22nd overall, it could address one of the three biggest needs currently, which are wide receiver, cornerback, and edge.
Here are some likely candidates for them at that spot if they are on the board on night one of the NFL Draft, granted some may be gone by the time the Baltimore Ravens are on the clock.
While they do need a receiver to pair with free-agent signings Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, both Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay are expected to make a bigger leap coming off injuries. Also, a DeAndre Hopkins trade on draft night is still a possibility for Baltimore.
If the Ravens go wide receiver, the top option is Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The Ohio State receiver would fit perfectly in the slot and would give Baltimore a plethora of weapons. But with him likely going before the top 20, other receivers have a better chance at landing with the Ravens.
Boston College receiver Zay Flowers, USC receiver Jordan Addison, and TCU receiver Quentin Johnston are likely in the pool of potential round-one or early-day-two prospects at the position. Even if some receivers go before the Ravens pick, likely one of these three will be on the board.
Flowers is electrifying with the ball in his hands as a lethal playmaker, while Addison is more of the route technician. But if you are looking for size, Johnson provides that, in certain aspects, and great yards-after-catch ability. If the Ravens decide to trade back or take a receiver on day two, Ole Miss receiver Johnathan Mingo is a fan favorite and fits as a versatile big slot-type pass catcher.
The Ravens currently don’t have a comfortable starter on the outside or in the nickel next to Marlon Humphrey. While they could go the veteran route and bring back Marcus Peters, more quality depth is needed, and while Brandon Stephens could play as the slot corner, it could be a position Baltimore can upgrade on and go the “best player available” route in this scenario.
Brian Branch is ranged currently in the top 15 to top 25, but he could be too enticing for Baltimore to pass on if he is there, as he could be the upper-echelon-coverage player it is looking for.
Despite trading away Chuck Clark and having Geno Stone behind starter Marcus Williams at safety, along with drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round last year, the Ravens are known for building up their secondary. The Alabama defensive back played safety and nickel corner, as Branch can be plugged in wherever on the field as an impact player and can move around with strong safety Hamilton while keeping Williams as the center fielder free safety.
If the Ravens want an outside corner with length, Joey Porter Jr. could be the guy for them if he’s there. The Penn State corner has the size to be their prototypical press corner, as it would create a physical duo on the outside paired up with Humphrey. But if Baltimore wants elite athleticism, the local cornerback out of Maryland Deonte Banks could be its selection if he’s still on the board.
In today’s NFL, you can never have too many pass rushers and that includes the Ravens, as they could add someone in the rotation with Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser, and David Ojabo, who they took in the second round last year. But it would depend on if they want someone to play both inside and outside in their defense or if they want a pure edge pass rusher with speed.
Georgia’s Nolan Smith is the standout if they want speed off the edge and would fit as an outside linebacker for Baltimore’s 3-4 defense. But if the Ravens decide to trade down, another player that has a similar profile, in terms of size, is Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV. Both Smith and McDonald, besides their frame, are different prospects in terms of athleticism and production.
If Baltimore wants more of a power edge with good enough size to play some downs inside, Myles Murphy from Clemson and Lukas Van Ness from Iowa fit that mold. While the Ravens have taken faster but lighter edge rushers recently, typically the profile they tend to draft is the heavier pass rushers that can play wherever on the defensive line.
Both Murphy and Van Ness could be in range here and both can win with power from the outside or inside. Baltimore will be looking for a Calais Campbell replacement and someone to pair opposite Justin Madabuike at the defensive end spot.