With as many as five quarterbacks being projected to possibly go early in the first round, there exist (albeit unlikely) scenarios where a top quarterback ends up sliding on draft day. I have previously made my case that Mason Rudolph could be a value pick in the second round, but there is no guarantee that he would be there, especially in light of the recent talks that he could slip into the back of the first. Rudolph is also not a top quarterback, and there is definitely a case for investing more draft capital into getting a quarterback that is.
Why the Ravens should consider a QB
22nd, 26th, and 32nd: that’s where the Ravens pass offense finished in yards per play in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively. The single most important indicator of teams that consistently contend is a good passing offense. There are occasional aberrations – the 2017 Panthers, the 2016 Giants, and the 2015 Broncos – that make the playoffs with below average passing offenses, but the teams that make the playoffs year in and year out are usually above average in that regard. Pass offense has been the Ravens’ biggest weakness over the past 3 years. While the finger of blame can be pointed almost anywhere in the offensive starting lineup, it would be willful ignorance to not consider upgrading the most important offensive position, in one of the worst passing offenses.
The odds of success when drafting top QBs
Quarterbacks are thought of as very risky picks, but in recent years, NFL teams seem to be getting better at identifying the truly elite prospects. Here’s a look at the quarterbacks from the past 10 drafts that were either taken first overall, or taken 2nd after another quarterback was taken first:
- Matt Stafford
- Sam Bradford
- Cam Newton
- Andrew Luck
- Robert Griffin III
- Jameis Winston
- Marcus Mariota
- Jared Goff
- Carson Wentz
The worst of this group are Bradford and RG3, and a few people would argue that they could have been franchise quarterbacks if they stayed healthy. The other 7 are either universally considered franchise quarterbacks, or have given strong indications that they will be. Its not as risky as people think: if a quarterback is good enough where he gets taken before any non-quarterback, he’ll probably be very good. If the Ravens are very confident that one of the quarterbacks available at 16 is that good, they should take him with confidence.
Scenarios where one falls to 16
There are 3 quarterbacks that I would consider to be worth the 16th overall pick for the Ravens: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold (not going to happen), and Josh Rosen. I’ll operate under the assumption that the Browns, Jets, and Bills will take one of the consensus top 4 quarterbacks. This means that for Mayfield or Rosen to be available at 16:
- Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson (unlikely) needs to go to the Browns, Jets, or Bills
- The Giants, Broncos, and Dolphins need to either pass on a QB, or take Jackson/Allen.
- The Cardinals need to not like what they see in whichever of Mayfield/Rosen is hypothetically available, or take the leftover of Jackson/Allen if the Giants, Broncos, and Dolphins all passed.
That’s a lot of what ifs, but is still a plausible scenario. For example, the draft might go like this:
- Browns: Sam Darnold
- Giants: Not QB
- Jets: Josh Rosen
- Browns: Not QB
- Broncos: Not QB
- Colts: Not QB
- Bucs: Not QB
- Bears: Not QB
- 49ers: Not QB
- Raiders: Not QB
- Dolphins: Not QB
- Bills: Josh Allen (probably having traded up)
- Redskins: Not QB
- Packers: Not QB
- Cardinals: Lamar Jackson
- Ravens: Baker Mayfield
Some more possible permutations of this scenario would be Mayfield to the Jets (with the Ravens landing Rosen,) or Allen to the Browns (with the Bills moving up for Darnold.) Again, such scenarios aren’t likely, but they could happen, and the Ravens should be prepared. If they really like the guy, they could even trade up for the right price, though that is difficult to do in today’s market.
A top QB probably won’t be available for the Ravens to draft. It is, however, in the realm of possibility. The Ravens need to take all measures possible to improve one of the worst pass offenses in the NFL, and drafting a top QB could potentially improve the Ravens offense more than any other position. Many teams have left the Ravens offense in the dust after picking a top QB prospect. The Ravens must consider taking that chance.