Ravens set to pick 6th overall in Thursday’s NFL Draft
— The last time the Baltimore Ravens owned a spot in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, they made the decision to move back, trading the eighth overall selection in the 2008 draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars, before eventually selecting quarterback Joe Flacco with the 18th pick in the first round.
Currently the owners of the No. 6 pick in Thursday’s 2016 NFL Draft, the Ravens may utilize a similar strategy when they find themselves on the clock. Otherwise, they will take their first Top 10 selection since drafting outside linebacker Terrell Suggs with the 10th overall pick in 2003.
“I think we’ve always – whether we’re picking four, six, 10, whatever – we’ll have six players graded. So, if the phone rings or doesn’t ring, we’ll be prepared to pick at the sixth pick,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said during the pre-draft press conference earlier this month at the team’s practice facility. “Will we be open to listen? Yes. But, you have to be prepared to pick, and we will be prepared to pick at No. 6.”
Baltimore has selected only seven players in the Top 10 since its inaugural draft in 1996. Five of those players, including Suggs, went on to earn at least one Pro Bowl nomination, while tackle Jonathan Ogden – selected with the fourth overall pick in 1996 – went onto be elected in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The first round included, the Ravens have selected a total of 17 players in the NFL Draft who have gone on to earn Pro Bowl nominations. Retired linebacker Ray Lewis, a first-round pick in 1996, and retired safety Ed Reed, a firstround pick in 2002, are both future Hall of Famers.
However, since 2008, Baltimore has drafted only one player who has gone on to appear in the Pro Bowl – linebacker C.J. Mosley in 2014.
“I guess it would be easy to say, if you look at these [recent] drafts compared to ’96 to 2004, I would say that they didn’t measure up to those drafts. From ’96 to 2004, we drafted three Hall of Famers, but I will also say that time, early on when you’re picking in the Top 10 of the draft, you have a chance to be a lot more successful than it is when you’re picking anywhere from 20 to 32, which [are] the positions we’ve been in,” Newsome said. “Unfortunately, we lost 11 games [in 2015]. Now we’re back in the Top 10 again. But I would say it was not up to my standards, was not up to [assistant general manager] Eric [DeCosta’s] standards and not the Ravens’ standard when you compare to what we did very early on.”
The Ravens will not have to wait very long to pick in the second round, either. Baltimore currently owns the 36th pick in the draft – just five selections after the end of the first round.
“We feel the pressure, honestly, regardless if we’re picking sixth or 32. We’ve picked both. I think the players are better, but we still feel the same pressure. We felt pressure last year when we picked 26th last year; we felt the same pressure,” DeCosta said. “Honestly, we’re looking at a different level of ability in some respects. I’m actually probably feeling more pressure at pick 36 than I am at six. I feel like if you’re picking sixth, you really only have to look at four or five players, and you’re just going to have to iron those guys out and you rank those five players. At 36, there’s a lot more volatility. There’s a lot more different players you’re going to be looking at, a lot more combinations. So, I’ve been spending a lot more time thinking about 36 actually in the last couple of weeks, because there could be a lot of different players.”
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