Twelve Ravens Thoughts following 2023 NFL draft

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With the Ravens having conducted significant business in the hours before and during the 2023 NFL draft, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The franchise quarterback is under contract through 2027, significant investments have been made at wide receiver, all but one starter is returning on the offensive line, and Todd Monken has replaced Greg Roman. There are no more excuses for this offense not to be Super Bowl quality

2. In the aftermath of Lamar Jackson’s extension and the draft, I’ve been asked where the Ravens rank in a loaded AFC. Kansas City remains easy favorites, but this looks like a divisional-round team. What happens from there is up to a talented core with a forgettable January legacy thus far. 

3. There’s been no indication when Jackson will report to Owings Mills and the Ravens will hold the press conference for the highest-paid player in NFL history. That’s not to suggest there’s anything wrong, but it explains why we haven’t seen more contract specifics leak out

4. The Odell Beckham Jr. signing warmed the negotiating waters, but Eric DeCosta probably owes Howie Roseman and Nicole Lynn fine bottles of wine for getting the Jalen Hurts deal done, which was the definitive data point to put the Deshaun Watson deal in the outlier category for good. 

5. DeCosta admitted he and the Ravens were “a good tired” after a “whirlwind” April, which was an honest admission from someone who worked on the Jackson contract for more than two years. The organization took plenty of bullets along the way, but patience paid off. 

6. Cornerback stands out like a sore thumb, so it’s all but a foregone conclusion at least one veteran addition will be made. That said, Baltimore still needs the likes of Damarion Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis to take the next step for depth not to remain a real concern. 


5:45 p.m. update:

7. Draft weekend felt like a win for Ben Cleveland after the Ravens didn’t add to the offensive line until the sixth round with the selection of Oregon right tackle Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu. Then again, Cleveland was widely regarded as the favorite at left guard at this time last year too.

8. The Ravens envision Tavius Robinson developing into a versatile pass rusher similar to Za’Darius Smith or Pernell McPhee, but their biggest offseason pass-rush move remains the hiring of new outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith, who’s highly regarded. He has plenty of young talent to mold. 

9. Trading next year’s sixth-round pick to draft injured USC guard Andrew Vorhees is exactly what teams should try to do with late-round draft choices instead of settling for a healthy player with a low ceiling and low floor. That was great use of essentially a lottery ticket for 2024. 

10. The Ravens may lack a tall wide receiver on their likely depth chart, but John Harbaugh noted the group’s versatility and how “there’s a lot more moving parts to” modern passing offenses rather than set positions. Most of their receivers are big enough and fast enough to line up anywhere. 

11. Still younger than some players Baltimore just drafted, Patrick Queen feels more valuable to the 2023 defense than whatever DeCosta might fetch for him in a trade. Queen remains in an excellent spot to have a strong season next to Roquan Smith and get paid handsomely elsewhere next March. 

12. Of the Ravens’ 10 first-round picks eligible since the introduction of the fifth-year option in 2011, six have received it with Marquise Brown being a technicality since Arizona exercised that. Positional value is a factor, but that percentage ranks 16th in the NFL, per Sharp Football. That sounds about right. 

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