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Finding help for the offensive and secondary line – The Denver Post

With the NFL scouting combination in two weeks, the start of free agency in four weeks and the first round of the NFL Draft in 10 weeks, the Ravens’ big board is a work in progress. But you don’t need Eric DeCosta’s keycard to know the team has holes to fill and picks to spend.

The Ravens are expected to have 10 selections in the April draft, including four in the first three rounds. If DeCosta can’t meet the team’s needs in free agency — offensive line, defensive line, secondary — he should have plenty of draft capital to help bolster a team coming off a disappointing 8-9 season.

It’s hard to say who the Ravens might favor, but it’s not hard to imagine the paths they might take. With the help of Pro Football Focus’ Draft Simulator, here’s a look at 10 potential picks, plus some notable off-the-table players and snobs in each draft slot. (Because the compensating choices have not yet been awarded, the draft order after the second round is not yet finalized.)

First round (No. 14 overall): Washington CB Trent McDuffie

In the AFC, the Ravens must deal with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. In the division, they are scheduled to face Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ trio of elite receivers twice a year until at least 2023. With Marlon Humphrey coming off a disappointing 2021 and Marcus Peters entering the final year of his contract, it’s not a bad idea to invest in another top cornerback. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound McDuffie, who started three years in Washington, is considered a low-risk pick in a vital position. He tackles well, impresses in media coverage and has allowed a 49.7 passer rating in his last two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.

Just missed: Cincinnati CB Ahmad Gardner. Snubbed: Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum.

Second round (No. 44): Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele

Imagine Orlando Brown Jr., but bigger. By his Senior Bowl measurements, the Melbourne native is about as tall (6-8) as Brown and about 40 pounds taller (387 pounds) than Terrence Cody entered the NFL Draft. Playing exclusively at right tackle, Faalele allowed one sack, two quarterback hits and five rushes last season, according to PFF, the least pressured for a tackle with at least 280 pass-blocking snaps. Faalele doesn’t have much balance or flexibility, but his massive frame, nimble feet and steady improvement suggest he can be an early impact starter on a Ravens line who needs to protect Lamar Jackson better.

Just missed: Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson II. Snubbed: Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt.

Third Round (#78): Kentucky EDGE/DL Josh Paschal

The Good Counsel product finished his fifth season in Kentucky as the Southeastern Conference’s top-rated rusher – even higher than Alabama star Will Anderson, the potential No. 1 pick overall in next year’s draft. The 6-foot-3, 278-pound Paschal doesn’t have jaw-dropping production (15 ½ tackles for the loss and 5 ½ sacks in 12 games last season) or an elite turn for a passing thrower, but neither did Za’Darius Smith, another all-round former Kentucky standout. Paschal’s explosiveness from the snap, strong hands and positional flexibility would fit well in a Ravens defensive front that expects run-stopping insight but needs more passing juice.

Just missed: Connecticut DT Travis Jones. Snubbed: Memphis G Dylan Parham.

Third Round (No. 102): Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert

Mark Andrews is one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL, but for an offense that relies so heavily on tight two-end sets, he needs a more dynamic running mate. It could still be Nick Boyle, a fierce blocker and reliable receiver who, due to injuries, played just 95 offensive snaps last season. Or it could be someone like Ruckert, a physical 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end who spent most of his career at Ohio State as an online player. Ruckert wasn’t a prolific receiver in college — he had career-highs of 26 catches and 309 yards last season — but he’s considered a solid athlete with good feel for finding weak spots in the zones.

Just missed: State of Arizona C Dohnovan West. Snubbed: Georgia ILB Quay Walker.

Fourth Round (No. 107): Illinois S Kerby Joseph

After an unnamed first three years in Illinois, where he bounced from position to position, Joseph burst into safety last season. He had five interceptions in 12 games and allowed just nine catches on 19 targets for 134 yards and two touchdowns, according to PFF, earning first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors. With a strong showing in Senior Bowl practices, the buzz grew even stronger. The big question for the 6-foot-0, 200-pound Joseph — and for the Ravens, who need a ballhawk at fullback — is whether he’s quick enough to make plays as a deep safety.

Just missed: Auburn’s Smoke Monday. Snubbed: Oklahoma G Marquis Hayes.

Fourth Round (No. 116): Oklahoma G Marquis Hayes

With the Ravens’ commitment to rebuilding their offensive line this offseason, their investment in the draft likely won’t stop with just one pick. Kevin Zeitler is stuck at right guard, but with his 32nd birthday approaching and the team’s uncertainty on the left side, DeCosta could take guard in his fourth straight draft. Hayes looks the part: 6-foot-4, 318 pounds, thick build. He started at left guard for three straight years at Oklahoma, each time increasing his season-ending PFF rating. Hayes is quite fluid as an extractor and shows good processing in pass protection. However, he’s allowed five sacks over the past three seasons, and fast rushers can make him look slow.

Just missed: LSU G Ed Ingram. Snubbed: BYU RB Tyler Allgeier.

Fourth Round (#125): Nebraska DB/LB JoJo Domann

The Ravens’ pass defense struggled everywhere last season, but especially in the heart of the field. According to Football Outsiders, only the Jacksonville Jaguars were less successful in defending shots down the middle. The 6-foot-0, 226-pound Domann, something of a tween prospect, could step in as a dime linebacker and help the Ravens right away. At Nebraska, he moved from safety to outside linebacker before the 2019 season and played most of his snaps in the slot. Domann allowed 32 completions on 39 targets last season, but for just 4.4 yards per target, helping him hold opposing quarterbacks to a 63.8 passer rating. He also made an impact elsewhere, posting 72 tackles (nine for loss) and two sacks.

Just missed: Virginia Tech G Lecitus Smith. Snubbed: Central Michigan OL Luke Goedeke.

Fifth round (No. 140): Cincinnati ILB Darian Beavers

If the Ravens believe Patrick Queen is best suited as a weakside inside linebacker, they will need another young middle linebacker in the pipeline. Malik Harrison’s playing time plummeted last season, and 32-year-old Josh Bynes can only help so long. The 6-foot-4, 252-pound Beavers were finalists for the Dick Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker, after finishing with 102 tackles (11 ½ for loss), 4 ½ sacks and one interception in 14 games. With his big frame, Beaver is limited in man-to-man coverage and doesn’t project as a three-man linebacker. But he’s a solid running defender with a football IQ that helps him stay ahead.

Just missed: Virginia Tech OT Luke Tenuta. Snubbed: Georgia RB James Cook.

Fifth Round (#141): Georgia RB James Cook

JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are all returning from season-ending injuries, and Ty’Son Williams has never found a consistent role in the offense. Depending on their interest in the free agent market, this could be the push the Ravens need to add another running back. Cook, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook, would give the offense a fast and catching threat out of the backfield. He torched Michigan in the college football playoff semifinals, finishing with four catches for 112 yards, including a 53-yard catch on a vertical route. As a runner, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound cook averaged at least 6 yards per carry in his four seasons at Georgia.

Snubbed: Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford.

Sixth Round (No. 193): Boston College C Alec Lindstrom

If the Ravens can’t re-sign Bradley Bozeman, they’ll have to add another center to the mix this offseason. Trystan Colon has proven to be a reliable reserve, appearing in 14 games in his first two seasons, but Patrick Mekari’s solid work at right tackle could steer him away from his old inside job. The 6-foot-3, 294-pound Lindstrom allowed just three sacks and four hits in his three years as a full-time starter at Boston College, according to PFF. The younger brother of Atlanta Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom, Alec likely projects himself as a developmental prospect. With his lack of playing strength, Lindstrom could struggle with a power blocking pattern like the Ravens.

Just missed: Texas DL T’Vondre sweatshirt. Snubbed: Oklahoma EDGE Isaiah Thomas.


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