If you know anything about the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL Draft, you know that they are an organization that likes to work the board, trading in and out of picks in order to acquire either more draft picks later in the draft or a higher selection to get a better chance at a desired target.
The 2017 NFL Draft was the first one in a while in which they actually did not make a move, but it was not for a lack of trying. This is something that was readily discussed on the team’s own website in an article written by their vice president, recounting conversations with General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
It was made explicit there that the Ravens were trying to trade up in the first round, and then when that failed to materialize, they tried to trade down while they were on the clock. I wondered at the time if their target was a wide receiver, but according to Baltimore Sun writer Jeff Zrebiec, it was actually closer to where they landed.
“I mentioned this in a story that ran the day after the draft”, he wrote in a column a couple of days ago, “but it’s worth repeating given that I’m still getting asked about it. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged that the Ravens tried to trade up ‘in the teens’ in the first round of the draft to get into position to select a player they coveted”.
That much we already knew. What we didn’t know was who. “The top player on the board for the Ravens at the time, and the guy they were trying to move up to get, was actually Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore”, Zrebiec wrote, “who went 11th overall to the New Orleans Saints”.
He notes that “the Ravens’ interest in Lattimore, plus all the due diligence they did in fellow Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley and the fact that they ultimately stayed at 16 and picked Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, shows how badly the team wanted to come out of the first round with a corner”.
There is certainly some logic there. It was widely reported that the Ravens were involved in the process that ultimately led to Conley taking a polygraph test, for example, and they did extensive pre-draft work on both Ohio State cornerbacks, as well as the one from Newsome’s alma mater.
I think what this means more than anything is that the Ravens are concerned about the long-term viability of Jimmy Smith, who has dealt with a number of significant lower body injuries in recent years. Smith will likely start across from free agent Brandon Carr, with second-year cornerback Tavon Young in the slot.
Humphrey will be on deck from there, at least if the Ravens are comfortable with where he is in his development. Evidently they were looking for somebody more game-ready if they were truly trying to trade up for Lattimore, which seems as likely a scenario as any, but the trade did not materialize.