It’s all speculation until they hit the field and start producing, or disappointing. However, I’m impressed with the Ravens’ 2015 draft class on paper. Here’s how I break it down. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments.
Strategy – A
Trading up three spots in the second round to get tight end Maxx Williams at No. 55 was the Ravens’ best move of the draft. Not only did the Ravens get the pass-catching tight end they needed, they jumped ahead of the Steelers, who may have planned to take Williams.
Asked if he had a hunch the Steelers wanted Williams, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, “I have no idea what Pittsburgh was doing.” However, the Ravens certainly knew how important it was to get Williams, whom they considered the best tight end in the draft by a wide margin.
Most of the Ravens’ draft strategy occurred before the draft, when they accumulated 10 picks. That provided ammunition to get Williams, and to make other moves if necessary. There was no need to trade up in the first round, because with the 26th pick, the Ravens still got the speed wide receiver they needed in Breshad Perriman. Few, if any, are better at working the draft than Newsome, and it showed once again.
Talent/fit – B +
With a ton of needs entering this draft, the Ravens addressed almost all of them.
Their top priority was to add offensive playmakers. That box was checked with the additions of Perriman and Williams, and to a lesser degree, running back Buck Allen. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Allen will compete to be the No. 2 back behind Justin Forsett.
They needed a pass rusher. Check that box with fourth-round pick, OLB Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens hope Smith can develop into a clone of Pernell McPhee, a versatile linebacker who went to the Bears during free agency.
Getting a deep threat was a must after losing Torrey Smith to the 49ers during free agency. Perriman will stretch defenses even when he’s not the primary target. His speed must be respected, and Joe Flacco is a big-time deep ball thrower. The additions of Williams and fifth-round tight end Nick Boyle gives the Ravens plenty of insurance if tight end Dennis Pitta can’t return from his second major hip surgery. Also, watch defensive end Carl Davis, who is arriving with a chip on his shoulder after falling into Round 3.
The most glaring need for the Ravens remains depth at cornerback. Fourth-round pick Tray Walker will get his shot to join the cornerback rotation, but that’s not something the Ravens can count on. Yet, when you compare pre-draft to post-draft, the Ravens look far more ready for Week 1.
Overall – A -
If you had told the Ravens before the draft they would get Perriman and Williams, they would have been ecstatic. From that point, the rest of the draft was set for success. This is how the Ravens operate. They lose key players during free agency. But they replace those players with young talent in the draft.