With the 2023 NFL draft set to begin on April 27, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. The Ravens have completed at least one big trade impacting the draft in each of the past three offseasons, making one wonder what Eric DeCosta might have up his sleeve before Night 1. With just five picks currently at his disposal, you can’t rule anything out.
2. After the “un-Raven-like” move of signing Odell Beckham Jr. to $15 million guaranteed, the DeAndre Hopkins rumors persist. The odds feel as believable as the Tooth Fairy lining up at left guard this season, but I probably would have said something similar about signing Beckham at that price. Who knows?
3. Baltimore has never struck out drafting a cornerback in the first round with multiyear starter and 2000 postseason standout Duane Starks being the “worst” pick and three-time Pro Bowl selections Marlon Humphrey and Chris McAlister being the best ones. Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks would be a fun choice.
4. I had to chuckle at “news” that Lamar Jackson wasn’t in Owings Mills for the start of the voluntary offseason training program this week. Considering he wasn’t there last year when he was still under contract, Jackson actually showing up would have been the major story.
5. Yes, logic suggests the Jalen Hurts contract extension — which looks fairly similar to the Ravens’ reported offer from last September — should be the death knell to Jackson’s quest for a Deshaun Watson-like guarantee, but very little of this story has been logical or easy to predict. We continue to wait.
6. If nothing else, the Hurts extension should squash the nonsensical talking point that the Ravens have “disrespected” Jackson once and for all. We can definitely debate whether they should still tweak or improve their offer to finally get something done, but there’s no malfeasance going on here.
7. Defenders of Jackson have pointed to the ever-increasing average annual value of quarterback contracts, but waiting also delays his next bite at the apple. Joe Flacco signed a contract extension just three years after inking his original 2013 monster. Jackson could have already been back at the table next offseason.
8. If Jackson still wants much more than Baltimore’s offering, it’s apparent he needs to have a tremendous season to force the issue since we’re going on four years since his peak MVP campaign. A lengthy holdout wouldn’t mesh with that, especially with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken in place.
9. We’ve discussed the positives of Beckham’s signing on getting Jackson to return, but the devil’s advocate could argue that overpaying an oft-injured 30-year-old receiver might convince the quarterback that he deserves an even better offer and should dig in his heels deeper. OK, that’s enough Jackson discourse for today.
10. Considering their current 2024 class of free agents, the Ravens should strongly be considering adding talent at defensive tackle, running back, and guard in addition to the more immediate focus on cornerback, wide receiver, and outside linebacker. You’re not just drafting for the coming fall, of course.
11. I’m really interested to see how Monken uses the running backs in his offense, especially J.K. Dobbins entering a contract year. Is this the season we finally see Dobbins become more of a factor as a receiver out of the backfield?
12. Thursday marked 27 years since Ozzie Newsome drafted future Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis with the first two picks in franchise history and 21 years since the selection of future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed. Yes, April 20 is a pretty solid day in Ravens lore.