[Editor’s Note: Version 1.0 below was originally published on February 27]
The Baltimore Ravens entered the postseason with a franchise-best 14-2 record, winning 12 consecutive games, and looking like an unbeatable juggernaut. In fact, Las Vegas had them as the odds on favorite to win Super Bowl 54 and hoist the Lombardi trophy. To the surprise of many, the Ryan Tannehill-led Tennessee Titans came into Baltimore for the divisional round and completely overwhelmed the Ravens, eliminating them from the playoffs. The city of Baltimore was shocked and devastated, as it was a blown opportunity for the talented Ravens team. The main objective of this Baltimore Ravens 7-round NFL mock draft will be to add physical players to their defensive front, which is the same unit that let them down in January.
All wasn’t lost in the 2019 season for the Baltimore Ravens, as Lamar Jackson won the league Most Valuable Player and showed signs of being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Jackson entered the season with many question marks, but he undoubtedly answered those with his marvelous performance. With that said, there is no question he must play much better in the postseason. As it stands today, Jackson carries an 0-2 record in the playoffs, with both losses coming at home in M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens enter free agency with roughly $30 million in cap space but have a long list of free agents, which includes edge rusher Matt Judon, cornerback Jimmy Smith, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. This list of players is why I think Ravens’ General Manager Eric DeCosta will focus heavily on the defensive front in the 2020 NFL Draft, which I will emulate in this Baltimore Ravens 7-round NFL mock draft.
Before we make our picks, let’s take a look at the Ravens’ team needs, shall we?
The Ravens have a long history of spectacular linebacker play, led by the likes of Ray Lewis and C.J. Mosley. In 2019, they had nowhere near the caliber of play and opted to sign L.J. Fort and Josh Bynes a quarter of the way through the season. In the playoff loss to the Titans, Bynes was the worst player on the field, as he was consistently getting washed out and allowing Derrick Henry to run through huge holes. This position will be a priority for the Ravens in the 2020 NFL Draft.
It is going to be hard for the Ravens to retain Matt Judon, as he is likely to cash in big during free agency. This comes one year after losing Za’Darius Smith to the Green Bay Packers the same way last year. Jaylon Ferguson, the 2019 2nd round pick, was given the chance to prove he was the next great edge rusher for the Ravens, yet he was very quiet. It’s not time to turn the page on Ferguson yet, as sometimes it takes some time for players to develop. With that said, the Ravens need to bolster their pass rush, whether Ferguson becomes a quality player or not. For the first time in a long time, the cupboard is bare when it comes to pass rushers and the Baltimore Ravens.
Interior Offensive Line
Rumors are swirling that All-Pro guard Marshall Yanda is heavily considering retirement, and center Matt Skura is a restricted free agent who is coming off of a major injury. With the running game being vital to the Ravens’ identity, finding premium blockers on the interior of the offensive line is paramount.
They spent a first-round selection in last year’s draft on wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and he enjoyed an above-average rookie season. Other than Brown, the unit is quite pedestrian. The 2020 NFL Draft offers one of the deepest wide receiver groups we have ever seen, so I’d bet my life savings that the Ravens walk away with another target for Jackson.
Baltimore Ravens 7-round NFL mock draft
Round 1, Pick 28: Patrick Queen, LB LSU
If you watched the National Championship, you were probably asking yourself, “Who is that player wearing the #8 for the LSU Tigers?” His name is Patrick Queen, and his draft stock is skyrocketing.
In Baltimore, there is the phrase “Play Like a Raven“. There is a certain makeup for a player that the Baltimore Ravens will covet. They have to be tough, instinctive, passionate, and a true student of the game. Queen checks all of those boxes and fills the Ravens’ biggest need.
Queen has a high football IQ, allowing him to process things quickly. He has sideline-to-sideline speed, great fluidity, and plays a physical brand of football which the Baltimore brass will find very attractive. Adding even more value, Queen is skilled enough to cover tight ends and running backs.
In the clip below, Queen’s extraordinary ability to diagnose the play and pull the trigger are showcased:
Man Patrick Queen saw this thing and flew in like a missile. pic.twitter.com/qJGh8Iea6d
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 18, 2020
Queen is the perfect fit for the Baltimore Ravens. He will immediately be given the chance to become a leader on the defensive side of the ball and will be coached by one of the best defensive minds in the league, Wink Martindale. If Queen finds his way to Baltimore, mark him down as a serious contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Round 2, Pick 60: Neville Gallimore, DT Oklahoma
The Baltimore Ravens have a long history of drafting players from the University of Oklahoma. Most recently, tight end Mark Andrews and right tackle Orlando Brown are Sooners that were selected by the Ravens. Both players made the Pro Bowl in 2019.
The Ravens made a hard run at defensive tackle Gerald McCoy last offseason, but he ultimately chose the Carolina Panthers. They are well aware that improving their defensive line is paramount, especially considering the teams’ best run stopper, Michael Pierce, is an unrestricted free agent.
Neville Gallimore has tremendous burst, allowing him to shoot the gap, causing consistent disruption and penetration. He plays with a great motor and possesses the ability to beat double teams. While it won’t always show up in the box score, Gallimore helps bolster the pass rush, as he uses various pass-rushing techniques to create constant pressure.
In the clip below, watch Gallimore embarrass the Texas center with a ridiculous spin move, showcasing his brilliant athleticism:
Whew, nasty spin move by NT Neville Gallimore.
Such a freaky dude. pic.twitter.com/xUmiBXfVof
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 12, 2019
Another plug-and-play type of player who can pay huge dividends early for the Baltimore defense. Through two rounds, the Ravens have added some serious talent to their defense.
Round 3, Pick 92: Denzel Mims, WR Baylor
While the Ravens spent high draft picks on the wide receiver position in the 2019 NFL Draft, there is still work to be done. Denzel Mims is a big-bodied receiver, standing 6’3″ tall and weighing in around 205 pounds. He plays with tremendous concentration, allowing him to thrive as a sure-handed pass-catcher. He excels when it comes to the contested catch and has an unreal catch radius. When the ball is in the air, it’s his.
He might not be the most polished route runner, but he is adequate. Mims isn’t a sudden runner and doesn’t possess the ability to start and stop effectively, but he does eat ground quickly with his long strides.
Ravens’ fans will remember how crucial Anquan Boldin was to their Super Bowl run in the 2012 season, and there are parts of Mims’ game, such as his toughness, that are reminiscent of Boldin. Providing more receiving targets for their league MVP QB can’t be a bad thing.