How the Ravens can have a perfect 2020 NFL Draft, starting with finding new weapons for Lamar Jackson

While they don’t have many roster holes, the Baltimore Ravens, fresh off of a 14-2 regular season, are hoping the upcoming draft will provide the missing pieces to their championship puzzle. They are also hoping to put their recent playoff disappointments behind them after losing at home during the last two postseasons. No one is hoping to avenge the Ravens’ recent playoff losses more than Lamar Jackson, whose 0-2 postseason record continues to be held against him despite last season’s MVP campaign. 

With the start of the 2020 NFL Draft just around the corner, here’s a look at the four things the Ravens should do during the draft to increase their odds at representing the AFC in Super Bowl LV. 

1. Double-dip at WR for Lamar Jackson

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently alluded to the depth of the receivers in the 2020 NFL draft, stating that the Ravens could potentially find a starter at that position in the fifth round. For those of you who follow the draft closely, that shouldn’t come as a surprise — this might be the most loaded wide receiver class ever. But that doesn’t mean that the Ravens won’t use their first-round pick on a receiver, something they did last season when they acquired Marquise Brown with the 25th overall pick. 

With the 28th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Baltimore should take the best available receiver still on the board. That may very well be LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last season while helping the Tigers capture a national championship. Jefferson would be a perfect addition to a Ravens offense that desperately needs another receiver alongside Brown, who led Baltimore’s receivers with 46 receptions for 584 yards and seven touchdowns last season. 

If DeCosta and the Ravens choose to wait until Day 3 to address the receiver position, there will still be some good options available. In his full seven-round mock draft, CBS draft analyst Chris Trapasso has the Ravens selecting Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson in the fifth-round and Virginia’s Joe Reed in the seventh round. Johnson, one of the more underrated players in the draft, caught 25 touchdowns while averaging over 15 yards per catch during his final two seasons with the Gophers. Reed, who caught 16 passes during his final three years with the Cavaliers, was a prolific special teams player at Virginia, returning five kickoffs for touchdowns while averaging 28.7 yards per return. 

2. Draft Mosley’s replacement

Baltimore still needs to fill the void left by linebacker C.J. Mosley’s departure during the 2019 offseason. If the Ravens pass on selecting a receiver in the first round, they would well-served spending the pick on an inside linebacker. While Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons will be long gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock, the draft’s other top inside linebackers, LSU’s Patrick Queen and/or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray could be available with the 28th overall pick. Queen, who has drawn comparisons to Kwon Alexander and Thomas Davis, racked up 12 tackles for loss during his final season with the Tigers. Murray, who has also drawn comparisons to Alexander as well as Rashaan Evans, filled the stat sheet during his three years at Oklahoma, recording 325 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and six passes defensed. 

While Queen and Murray ranked higher, the Ravens should strongly consider drafting Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, who put up video game numbers during his final season Madison. In 2019, the 6-foot-3, 253-pound Baun tallied 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown while earning All-American and First Team All-Big 10 honors. His skill set seems like a perfect fit for the Ravens’ defensive blueprint — one that hasn’t changed much in recent years.

All three players would fill a significant need for the Ravens, whose lack of talent at inside linebacker was exposed by Derrick Henry and company during the Titans’ upset win over Baltimore in the second round of the playoffs. 

3. Find a formidable EDGE they can develop

The Ravens will surely draft an edge rusher after finishing just 21st in the NFL in sacks last season. Fortunately for them, the 2020 draft is full of promising edge rushers, particularly in rounds 2-4. Ideal second-round options include Michigan’s Josh Uche and Boise State’s Curtis Weaver. Uche tallied 7.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last fall, while Weaver recorded 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2019. 

Possible third-round options for the Ravens at edge rusher include Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor, Utah’s Bradlee Anae, and Notre Dame’s Khalid Kareem. Fourth round options include Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith, Syracuse’s Alton Robinson and Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes. Willekes tallied 23.5 sacks during his final three seasons with the Spartans, while Highsmith recorded 15 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2019. While his numbers weren’t the best in 2019, Robinson did leave Syracuse with 19 career sacks, five forced fumbles and 32 tackles for loss. 

4. Replenish the depth on the O-line 

With Marshal Yanda’s retirement and Matt Skura coming off a major knee injury sustained in Week 12 of the 2019 season, the Ravens will likely spend at least two picks on their offensive line during the draft. While the Ravens could spend a high pick on a lineman (Michigan’s center Cesar Ruiz would be a good first-round option), they will likely address their line during the second and third days of the draft. Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz could be a good option for the Ravens with the 60th overall pick. If they choose to address the interior part of their offensive line on Day 3, Baltimore should consider Louisiana’s Kevin Dotson, a 2019 All-American who made over 50 starts during his college career. 

Baltimore is also in need of a swing tackle, with James Hurst suspended for the first quarter of the 2020 season. An ideal Day 3 option here is Kansas State’s Scott Frantz, a Second Team All-Big 12 performer in 2019 who made 51 starts during his time with the Wildcats. Frantz was a big reason why Kansas State averaged over 180 rushing yards per game during his last two seasons. 

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