Previewing the 2018 Draft: Offense
In my last preview, I took a look at some of defensive prospects the Ravens could look to add in the upcoming NFL Draft. While there are a few spots on defense that the team could look to upgrade, the majority of deficiencies currently on the Ravens roster are on the offensive side of the ball.
During the State of the Ravens press conference, Steve Bisciotti stated, “You can be assured that the majority of our attention will be on offense this year”. In the 2017 draft, the Ravens did not draft an offensive player until their 5th pick. Could we see a similar approach taken in 2018 where they just draft offense with their early selections? It is a fairly deep draft at several offensive positions including Offensive Guard, Running Back, and Wide Receiver so there is potential to get several impact players on offense.
With the NFL Scouting Combine right around the corner, here are some names to keep an eye on that could be potential fits for the Ravens on the offensive side of the ball.
NOTE: These aren’t my Top 3 necessarily I tried to put the top prospect at the position, another player I consider to be a solid 1st/2nd rounder, and then a 3rd who is an intriguing, maybe less-heralded player.
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Interior Offensive Line:
1) Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame: It only takes a couple of plays to see why Nelson is considered by many to be the top prospect in the 2018 Draft, an extremely rare feat for an interior lineman. Nelson displays a rare blend of size, power, athleticism, awareness and football IQ that morphs into a difference maker on the field.
2) Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia: While Nelson deservedly garners much of the attention at the OG position in this class, he is far from the only talented prospect. Wynn played both OG and OT for the Bulldogs at a high level, although in the NFL his size makes him a better fit at guard. He has quickness, power and the ability to make blocks at the 2nd level.
3) James Daniels, OC, Iowa: Depending on how Free Agency goes, Center may not be a position the Ravens need to address. However, Daniels may still be a player that intrigues the Ravens as he can likely line up either at Center or Guard and has impressive athleticism and agility for an interior lineman, somewhat reminiscent of standout Center Ryan Kalil.
1) Connor Williams, Texas: Williams has the prototypical size, length and athleticism of an NFL LT. He is rehabbing from a knee injury that may deflate his draft stock, but he has a ton of upside and is probably the best pass-blocking OT in the draft.
2) Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame: McGlinchey is more of a technician than an athletic specimen, but he uses his hands and feet well and is rarely found out of position. He has held up well in pass-protection against some very talented pass-rushers at the collegiate level and he is also a solid run blocker coming from a run heavy scheme at ND.
3) Brian O’Neill, Pitt: O’Neill is a converted TE which means he should be one of the more athletic prospects at his position in his draft. Some players like Nate Solder, do very well moving from TE to OT, but others do not have as much success. O’Neill had some hype surrounding him early in the draft process, but he has a lot of work to do if he is to prove he has the strength and technique to compete in the NFL.
1) Josh Rosen, UCLA: Rosen looks the part of the prototypical pocket passer in today’s NFL. He navigates the pocket well, and has very good accuracy at the intermediate and deep levels. Rosen has battled some injuries in college and he also has some questionable decision-making at times, but he has a good chance to be a top 5 pick for a QB needy team.
2) Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: Mayfield is a very different prospect than Rosen as he does not have the typical size of an NFL QB standing at 6’ 1/2”, but he makes up for his lack of size with elite athleticism and mobility. He is also a very accurate passer, but his arm-strength is probably considered to only be average by NFL standards. Some may see Drew Brees or Russell Wilson in Mayfield and also bank a top 5 pick on him.
3) Lamar Jackson, Louisville: Jackson is another intriguing prospect that doesn’t necessarily fit the prototypical QB mold as he was also a prolific dual-threat with his legs at the collegiate level. Some have questioned if he can play QB at the next level, but he has one of the best arms in this class and could be a huge playmaker for a team that lands him in the back end of the first round or later.
1) Saquon Barkley, Penn State: Barkley is another player that many will consider the #1 overall prospect in the class. He has elite size, power, quickness, speed, and 3rd down ability that all comes together in a very impressive package. It’s been a long time since a RB has gone first overall, but Barkley has as good a chance as any player in recent memory to do so.
2) Derrius Guice, LSU: In most classes Guice would likely be considered the top RB prospect, but he will have to settle for the RB2 in what is perhaps the deepest RB class of the past decade. Guice has a lot of the same attributes that Barkley displays, although he doesn’t have quite the bulk of Barkley nor the prolific pass-catching ability.
3) John Kelly, Tennessee: Kelly is a bit unheralded in this class, but he has some potential to be a nice day 3 pick for a team that is looking for a pass-catching/change of pace back. He’s an explosive player with some impressive YAC ability, but he is likely not a feature back in the NFL.
1) Calvin Ridley, Alabama: Ridley is viewed almost universally as the #1 WR in this class, and the reasons are fairly obvious despite less than amazing statistical production. Excellent speed and good size, combined with next-level route running and suddenness are all traits that tend to translate very well to the NFL.
2) D.J. Moore, Maryland: The local product and top WR out of the Big Ten is starting to get some potential first round hype that is well deserved. Looking at times like a RB in a WR’s body, Moore has excellent YAC ability and if he had a more accurate QB, he likely would have put up even more impressive numbers.
3) Dante Pettis, UW: Pettis has similar size/speed as Ridley, and is a prolific punt returner to boot. He has impressive body control and suddenness that translates into impressive route running. I expect him to be a day 2 pick, and could be one of the steals of the draft.
1) Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State: Goedert comes from a small school, but he is anything but a small-time prospect. Measuring in at 6’4, 260, Goedert has an extremely athletic build, elite hands and a catch radius that will likely bring up Gronkowski comps.
2) Hayden Hurst, South Carolina: Hurst may end up being the top TE picked in this draft, and it would not be undeserved. He checks the size and speed boxes, and looks to be an explosive playmaker.
3) Ian Thomas, Indiana: Thomas, a Baltimore native, is a very good blocker with solid receiving ability as well. He doesn’t possess the elite size and speed of some of the TE prospects in this class, but he has strong hands and the skillset to be a productive NFL player.