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Baltimore Ravens have holes to fill in NFL Draft, especially on the offensive line

Baltimore Ravens turn attention toward NFL Draft
Baltimore Ravens turn attention toward NFL Draft 01:43

BALTIMORE -- It was clear from the start of this offseason that the Baltimore Ravens were going to lose quite a few players to free agency.

Now that the extent of those exits is a little more clear, they'll have a chance to do some real adding — in the draft.

"Obviously, it's always hard to see some of your favorite players go to other teams. I mean, that's been a challenge," general manager Eric DeCosta said. "But in terms of just being in a good spot, the vibe has been good. We're building this team the right way."

The Ravens did sign Derrick Henry to alleviate some concerns at running back, and they kept standout defensive lineman Justin Madubuike with a long-term deal, but some significant contributors to last season's AFC North champions have departed. That includes three starters on the offensive line — guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson left as free agents and tackle Morgan Moses was traded.

Baltimore also lost linebacker Patrick Queen and pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney in free agency.

"We'll have some opportunities, for sure," DeCosta said. "There are going to be some spots that can be filled, and I think the burden is on me to find those players who can fill it, and fill it with winning football, and we've got the coaches and support staff to put them in position to succeed."


Offensive line is an obvious one, and although the Ravens took wide receiver Zay Flowers in the first round last year, they can always use more playmakers for MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Baltimore, which had the best regular-season record in the league last season and lost in the AFC title game, has the 30th pick in the first round, although DeCosta expressed confidence there will be good players at those positions available later too.

"I think offensive line is pretty stacked across the board in most rounds," he said. "I think receiver is a really deep draft this year. Those would be two. I mentioned running back. I think that you'll see a lot of running backs get drafted, probably, starting in the third round through the seventh."

The secondary dealt with injuries last season, with cornerback Marlon Humphrey missing seven regular-season games and another in the playoffs.


Obviously, the quarterback position is set. The Ravens made sure of that at this time last year, when they reached a long-term deal with Jackson shortly before the draft began. Although Queen is gone, Roquan Smith's presence means Baltimore still has a star at inside linebacker.

Tight end is also a strength, and losing Clowney was offset to some degree by bringing back Madubuike and Kyle Van Noy.

Clowney and Van Noy were both players who joined the Ravens well after the draft last year — in Van Noy's case after the 2023 season had started — so DeCosta is confident he has plenty of time to address the team's needs.

"We're in the same place as we were last year at this time," DeCosta said. "Go back and look at what some of you wrote last year and see how we ended up. We have a lot of time to make moves. A lot of these players that we lost (are) excellent players. A lot of these guys were acquired in August, right? Some of these guys were acquired in September, so we're still building."


DeCosta talked a bit about how it's possible to trade a pick in one year for a higher one the next year. He said that practice is particularly intriguing to owner Steve Bisciotti.

"He has what he calls 'The Bisciotti Reign of Terror,' and that would basically be that you trade a seventh-round pick in any given year for a sixth-round pick next year, and then take that sixth-round pick and trade it for a five, and then trade that five for a four," DeCosta said. "And so, in seven or eight years, you'd have a first-round pick. We've always talked about that, but we never get to that point."

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