The Baltimore Ravens did a good job addressing some key needs this offseason via trade and free agency. They brought in veteran receiver Steve Smith to shore up a thin receiving unit, re-signed LT Eugene Monroe and traded for C Jeremy Zuttah to boost what was an atrocious unit last year and also signed leading tackler and ILB Daryl Smith to a four-year deal.
Two glaring weaknesses still remain: a cover free safety who can mop up all the big plays Matt Elam gives up and a bruising right tackle who can aid the 30th ranked rushing attack. RT could be a possibility with the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, which the Ravens hold, and Morgan Moses (Virginia) could be that guy. But what they should do is trade up for the top safety on the board, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama).
This offensive tackle class is deep and there’ll be plenty of talent still available in round two. Ja’Wuan James (Tennessee), Antonio Richardson (Tennessee) and Jack Mewhort (Ohio State) all would be solid additions to the right side of the line and all should still be available at no. 48, the Ravens second round pick.
The safety class, however, isn’t quite as deep. There’s some good athletes, yes, but many of them fit the same mold of ‘in-the-box thumper who struggles in coverage’. A safety with mature skills and instincts who can match up in man or zone coverage, can drop into centerfield and also help support the run is precisely what the Ravens need, and that’s exactly what Clinton-Dix brings to the table.
Now normally I abhor trading up, particularly in a deep draft class like this. But if you can trade up for a reasonable price to get not only a player with good value for the slot but also fill a massive need, then by all means give up a pick or two (or three) and move on up.
More than likely, the Ravens would need to trade up to 10 with the Detroit Lions. Everyone picking from 10 to 16 (except the Tennessee Titans at 11) are all eyeing up Clinton-Dix and he could land anywhere in that range. The Lions, assuming they’re not hell-bent on Clinton-Dix for themselves, would probably be willing to trade down if they’re focusing on cornerbacks or wide receivers as has been rumored.
The asking price? In a normal year, moving from 17 to 10 would cost you a second round pick, or two thirds. Considering the talent in this years class the market price on top-ten picks figures to go up, but the Ravens can still make this trade work without giving up too much capital in this years draft.
If the Ravens are willing to give up second and fourth round picks in 2015 and the 79th and 194th picks of 2014, the Lions would probably jump all over that. If you go by the draft slot value chart, that package of picks would be good enough to move up to the 6th pick, so considering the increased value for ’14, that should be enough to get you to 10.
It may sound like they’re giving up a lot, and to a degree they would be, but it’s a calculated risk. The second and fourth rounders from next year won’t have as much value as they do this year because the depth of talent for ’15 isn’t anywhere near what it is for ’14. All they’d be giving up for this years draft is one of their third rounders and a sixth, and the third rounder is offset because the Ravens have a compensatory pick in that round.
So the Ravens could polish off both their top two remaining needs in the first two rounds and still have four picks remaining in the ’14 draft. Not a bad deal.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Ravens end up doing to solve the mysteries at RT and FS.