OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Lamar Jackson’s contract situation looms over all aspects of Baltimore’s offseason — and the draft is certainly no different.
Unless there’s a major breakthrough in negotiations before then, the Ravens will go into the draft without a lot of certainty at the game’s most important position, but if they’re optimistic that Jackson will remain their quarterback, it will be harder to justify going after one of the top QBs available.
Baltimore used the franchise tag on Jackson, meaning if he reaches an agreement with another team and the Ravens don’t match it, they could receive two first-round picks in return.
There’s also always the possibility that Jackson could be traded in a deal that could net Baltimore a high pick in this year’s draft. But if none of that happens and the status quo remains, then the Ravens will pick 22nd in the first round.
That’s not exactly a prime position to land one of the top passing prospects, even if general manager Eric DeCosta did not rule out taking a quarterback in the first round when asked earlier this month.
Baltimore has other, more certain needs. The Ravens already addressed one of them when they signed Odell Beckham Jr., but they could certainly try to add even more help at wide receiver for whoever the quarterback ends up being.
“I think the fans will be happy that it’s a strong receiver class,” DeCosta said. “Again, we see a multitude of guys that could go in the first couple rounds.”
With Marcus Peters a free agent, Baltimore might also use a high pick on a cornerback. The Ravens added safety Kyle Hamilton to their secondary with a first-round pick last season.
“It’s a strong position. Probably four or five guys that you look at and say, ‘Yes, that’s a first-round-type of guy. That’s a first-round pick.’ Maybe six guys,” DeCosta said. “You know us. We have a history of drafting defense in the first round. We love corners. Our defense is really built to succeed with a great, strong secondary.”
The Ravens have the 22nd pick after making the playoffs last season. Baltimore has no second-round selection and only five picks total, although that obviously could change.
“We wish we had more. Our goal is probably to get more along the way — if we can — depending on how things fall,” DeCosta said.
Cornerback and more help at receiver. And perhaps quarterback?
Tight end, running back.
The Ravens hired Georgia’s Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator, and although Jackson’s status will obviously have a big effect on the offense, the team can start trying to add other players who would be good fits for Monken’s system.
“The thing in talking to him that you love is that he’s versatile, and he said to just get him players and he’ll make them work,” director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. “So, that’s exciting to hear as a scout. Now you just go out and try to find the best players for the Ravens.”
One of the top cornerbacks available in this draft is Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. It would certainly be interesting if the Ravens took him, given all the years his father played for the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Seeing Joey Porter Sr. a Ravens fan? I think that would be great for all of us,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.