There comes a point in every season where a team figures out whether it’s going to the playoffs, or is going to have a relatively early draft pick in a few months’ time. For the Ravens, that point came disturbingly late in the season. As one of the 14 teams “enjoying” postseason action in this year’s playoffs (at least we’re not Miami), it’s now clear that most of the windfall selections will be gone by the time the “B” of Baltimore emerges from Roger Goodell’s mouth. According to the odds at sportsbooks on wishcasinos.com it’s unlikely that the draft picture will change much from recent mock drafts, and so there will still be plenty of players around who can be Day One starters for the club, but what should be done with that pick?
Let’s rule out one answer to that question, which some people might voice if Lamar Jackson doesn’t stick around and the starting QB slot opens up. A trade with the Bears isn’t happening. Yes, they have Brandon Fields, so no, they don’t need a new QB, but they won’t want to be picking too late in the first round given their dire need for offensive line help, because they want to have Brandon Fields for the foreseeable future. And so it’s best to assume the Ravens stand pat at their low-20s spot in the draft and pick the best player available at a position of need. But who will that be?
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Let’s assume that Lamar signs a new deal, because this is all speculation and we might as well be optimists. Too many times this season, it’s felt like he needs more support from passing targets who can get downfield, get open and compete physically. Washington, who stands 6’ 7” tall and weighs 270 lb, can certainly do the latter. In fact, he can do it all – he averaged more than 15 yards per catch in his final collegiate season and was a top-five graded run blocker too. Even if there’s a different name under center they’re going to thank the front office should the Ravens draft a security blanket like Washington.
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Staying with receiving options, let’s accept that sometimes Rashod Bateman is going to need some time on the sidelines or at least someone else to share the load so that sideline time can be minimized. Boutte, who should still be there when the Ravens pick, has the speed and elusiveness to be a vertical threat and make any QB look good. For most people, he shouldn’t be considered ahead of Washington given the TE’s anomalous size and skillset, but the GM and coaches will have their own opinions on that.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Back to Georgia to look on the defensive side of the ball, because teams with a strong enough defense don’t give up 28 fourth-quarter points to Miami. Smith would be going a lot higher in the draft had he not missed a chunk of 2022 with a torn pectoral muscle. He does profile a little bit light for an NFL outside linebacker, but once the backroom staff are done with him the 6’3 athlete will remind many of Jaelan Phillips, which is no bad thing for a team that could do with help moving opposing QBs around.