The NFL has pushed back its annual draft this year, which allows for two extra weeks of speculation, over-analyzing, and the proliferation of mock drafts not worth the server space they’re occupying. The Houston Texans hold the first overall pick and have done a tremendous job of creating a smokescreen to shroud their intentions. Houston, along with about five other teams in the top half of the first round, is in need of a franchise quarterback. There seems to be no consensus among draftniks about the quarterback rankings in this draft. The combination of need and uncertainty at the quarterback spot could result in a replay of the 2011 draft with Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater cast in the roles of Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker.
The hazy cloud hovering over the first round could pay huge dividends for teams with established quarterbacks drafting in the middle of the round, such as Baltimore, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. As Minnesota, Cleveland, and Tennessee climb over each other to select from the questionable lot of signal callers teams like the Ravens, Giants, and Cowboys could see top ranked players drop into their laps.
As a Ravens fan I don’t care about how the Steelers could benefit from the ineptness of the Titans and Vikings so I’ll concentrate on the ramifications for Baltimore. The Ravens entered the off-season with several gaping holes and the front office has methodically filled those holes with solid veteran players. The additions of Steve Smith, Owen Daniels, and Jeremy Zuttah aren’t going to excite the oddsmakers in Vegas but they have put the team in an enviable spot as the draft approaches. The Ravens are in the position of selecting the best player available in the first round of the draft. Yes, the team will be looking for upgrades at safety and right tackle but the off-season additions have turned those gaping holes into mere question marks.
Ozzie Newsome and company are currently set to have four selections among the top 99 picks in the draft. I’ve heard many pundits claim that this is the NFL’s deepest draft in years. If there is an early run on quarterbacks in this draft you can be sure of two things; 1) there will be some serious mistakes made and 2) the Ravens will score. The potential infusion of quarterbacks into the top of the first round will send higher rated players tumbling down the draft board. If the Ravens are presented with the option of selecting among several highly rated players when their first pick (#17 overall) approaches don’t be surprised if the team trades down to obtain extra picks in this deep draft and still ends up with the player they really wanted in the early 20s.