Ravens February Mock Draft
It is now February so it is time for another Ravens’ mock draft using Fanspeak’s On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator. Each month I post a new Ravens’ mock draft. If you want to see how the rest of the draft turned out, click here.
Please note that while the Ravens only have four picks here, they are likely to get a four compensatory picks from free agency losses last offseason. It was previously reported that they would also be receiving a draft pick from the Miami Dolphins from the Bryant McKinnie trade, but it has been announced that this pick is a conditional pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
First Round: Zack Martin, Offensive Lineman, University of Notre Dame
The number of the Ravens’ first round pick is either going to be the 16th or 17th overall, but this has yet to be determined as they will have to flip a coin with the Dallas Cowboys at the NFL Combine later this month. With the Ravens first round pick, I took Martin, a 6’4″, 305 pound offensive tackle out of the University of Notre Dame.
The starting left tackle for the Fighting Irish, he started a school record 52-straight games during his time at South Bend. A redshirt senior, he was redshirted his freshman year and then became a four-year starter at left tackle. This season he was the anchor of the Notre Dame offensive line. In fact, in the Fighting Irish’s Pinstripe Bowl victory over Rutgers, Martin was the MVP of the game. An offensive lineman receiving and MVP award is very rare and shows the kind of talent that he has.
For his NFL career, his position is likely going to depend on what team selects him. He doesn’t have the ideal size for the left tackle position in the NFL––key here is his short arm length––though he could succeed depending on the team. If he doesn’t play at left tackle, he would move inside to guard where he would be even better. While his qualities don’t make him an ideal left tackle in the NFL, they do make him an ideal guard. His athleticism is good and he has a mean streak that sees him finish blocks.
For the Ravens, this pick would make sense as their offensive line was the number one weakness last season. If starting left tackle Eugene Monroe leaves in free agency, then Martin could come in and take his spot. If Monroe stays in Baltimore––as expected––then Martin could play either right tackle or left guard. Most likely, he would play at left guard. This would move Kelechi Osemele to right tackle. He played right tackle his rookie season and moved to left guard for the playoffs of that season and for this season. Martin seems to be a good fit for the zone blocking scheme that the Ravens run. Overall, the Ravens’ offensive line needs to be improved this offseason and Martin would be a perfect player for the job.
Second Round: Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU
In the second round, I continued to add to the offense by taking Beckham. A 6 foot, 187 pound junior, he is rising up draft boards at the moment and I considered him to be a steal here.
Playing in the ever-tough SEC, he caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Five times this season he had games with over 100 receiving yards including a 204 yard outburst on six catches against Furman University. As a sophomore, he added 43 catches for 713 yards and two touchdowns. Contributing right away as a true freshman, he caught 41 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns. Also a dangerous return man, he averaged 24.9 yards on kickoff returns and 8.2 yards on punt returns in his time with the Tigers.
An all-around receiver, he is an explosive playmaker who can also go across the middle of the field. His speed and quickness are his best assets as he can get in and out of routes quickly and create separation. He isn’t just a deep threat with this speed as he has found success with intermediate routes. He doesn’t seem to have trouble catching the ball either, which is the most important asset for a receiver to have. On the negative side, he is only 6 feet tall and being 187 pounds, he is a bit small. However, he can add some weight to his frame and his size isn’t a major problem.
This pick makes tons of sense for the Ravens for more than one reason. First off, they need help at wide receiver and Beckham can be the man that completes their WR corps. Him next to Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown would be a great, young wide receiver corps. Second, Beckham would more than likely be the best player available on the Ravens’ draft board at the time. There is talk right now of him going in the late first round so this pick represents good value. Lastly, his offensive coordinator last season was none other than Cam Cameron. Cameron is a former Ravens’ offensive coordinator so he would provide great insight into how Beckham would fit in with the Ravens.
Third Round: Troy Niklas, Tight End, University of Notre Dame
Continuing to build the Ravens’ offense, I took another Notre Dame player in Niklas, a 6’7″, 270 pound tight end.
As a junior this season, he caught 32 passes for 498 yards and 5 TDs. His best game this season came against the University of Michigan where he caught a career-high six passes for a career-high 74 yards. Along with that, he added one touchdown in the Fighting Irish’s 41-30 loss. His sophomore season he caught five passes for 75 yards and one touchdown. As a freshman, the coaching staff moved him to outside linebacker for a season in order to have him see the field. He recorded 20 tackles at that position.
His biggest strength is obviously his size. The prototypical size for a tight end these days, he not only is this big, he uses his size to his advantage not only as a receiver, but as a blocker. He isn’t afraid to block and is a physical guy. This is likely due to his season as an outside linebacker. He does a good job making a catch in tight coverage and can pluck the ball out of the air. Not all is good though as he lacks good speed and needs to develop his route running more.
Currently, the Ravens have no tight ends on their roster so a tight end is a must draft at this point. Starter Dennis Pitta is expected to be retained as a free agent, but nothing is a guarantee in free agency. Assuming that Pitta is re-signed, Niklas would be the perfect compliment to him. Pitta isn’t a good blocker and is more of a receiver. Niklas can be used all over the field and be used as a blocker more while he develops his route running. Two-tight end sets are an essential part of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offense. Pitta and Niklas would be a great combination.
This pick was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for left tackle Eugene Monroe during the season.
This pick was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Monroe during the season.
Sixth Round: Tre Boston, Safety, University of North Carolina
With the Ravens final draft pick in this mock draft, the Ravens finally address their defense as they take Boston, a 6’1″, 205 pound senior out of North Carolina.
Contributing all four years for the Tar Heels, he had 281 tackles, three forced fumbles and 13 interceptions in his career. His best season was this year where he recorded 94 tackles and five interceptions, both career-highs. As a junior he had 86 tackles and four interceptions, as a sophomore he had 70 tackles, one forced fumble and three interceptions and as a freshman he recorded 31 tackles, two forced fumbles and one interception.
Earlier in the draft process, he played in the East-West Shrine Game and performed well in practice and in the game. He showed the ability to play deep safety and make plays in coverage while also being able to defend the run decently. As his stats show, he was a playmaker for the Tar Heels and that is something that can’t really be taught to a player. You either have that ability or not.
On defense, the main position that the Ravens need a player at is free safety. Last season Matt Elam was at free safety and James Ihedigbo at strong safety. Both of them are more natural strong safeties so this left the Ravens exposed on the backend. With Ihedigbo a free agent and Elam the Ravens first-round pick last year, it is likely that the Ravens will let Ihedigbo walk in free agency and search for a free safety to play next to Elam. Since Boston would only be a sixth-round selection, he likely wouldn’t challenge for the starting job, but he could play on special teams while he develops.
This pick was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for center A.Q. Shipley before the start of the season.