The Baltimore Ravens are a prime trade-down candidate in the 2023 NFL Draft. After bowing out in the Wild Card Round to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens currently hold the 22nd overall pick. However, look for the Ravens to trade down from this spot to acquire more selections in this year’s draft.
Why Ravens are Primed to Trade Down
The Ravens are a prime trade-down candidate for many reasons. The first one to note is that GM Eric DeCosta is known to be partial to moving around the board. This was evidenced in the 2022 NFL Draft when the Ravens acquired pick 23 from the Arizona Cardinals for Marquise Brown. With that pick, they then opted to trade down with the Buffalo Bills. At 25, they selected Tyler Linderbaum, their long-term starting center, who was unlucky to miss out on the Pro Bowl this year.
Given the lack of mid-first-round talent in Baltimore’s main positions of need (wide receiver and cornerback), moving back seems likeliest. While they could look to move up for an edge prospect, there is also an abundance of edge talent valued in the late-first to the early-second area. Thus, Baltimore’s awkward spot at 22 means they likely will not be able to maximize the pick’s value if they stick and pick. Trading down makes the most sense.
There is also the issue that Baltimore needs to get younger and cheaper. To do this, they need more players on rookie contracts. Roquan Smith was handed a huge extension, and the team still hopes to keep Lamar Jackson. Maintaining good cap space is pertinent, and having more players on rookie deals will help with this. Trading Chuck Clark for a 2024 seventh-round pick was a smart move for both of these reasons. Expect a few more moves like this given how DeCosta only has five draft picks to use this year (22, 86, 124, 157, 199).
Because the Ravens have so few picks, trading down from 22 to acquire more mid-round picks would be ideal. The team could do with some mid-round picks to find some quality depth pieces at positions of need.
Potential Trade Partners
So, given that the Ravens are prime trade-down candidates, who could they look to trade with? In the first round, there are a few teams that Baltimore could deal with. The Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs are the three likeliest teams to seek a move up. They hold the 27th, 30th, and 31st picks respectively. All three of those teams have the aggressive attitude of ‘win-now’ teams and also have the necessary capital to make a move happen. Should the Ravens trade with any of those teams, they can expect to profit somewhere in the region of a late third or early fourth-round pick alongside a Day 3 pick.
Baltimore could, however, look to trade out of the first round entirely. Rebuilding teams and teams with a lot of draft ammunition are the likeliest candidates to move up from the early second round into the first. Teams to watch include the Cardinals (at 34), Seattle Seahawks (at 37), and perhaps the New York Jets (at 43). If Baltimore trades into this region, they can expect to gain value in the region of a late second or early third-round selection.
Prospects to Watch
When trading down, teams often target a prospect or at least have multiple prospects that they are happy selecting. How far the Ravens trade down will reveal who they are interested in. If the Ravens opt to stay in the first round, expect them to target a receiver. Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, Josh Downs, and Kayshon Boutte will all be available at the back end of the first round. Depending on who Baltimore likes best, their selection could be used on one of these players. While Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jordan Addison are likely high on Baltimore’s wishlist, they could be long gone before 22.
Should the Ravens move into the second round, some of those receivers may still be available. However, it could be better to select a cornerback or edge rusher in this situation if no receivers are available. Emmanuel Forbes, Deonte Banks, Kelee Ringo, and Cam Smith are all names to watch at cornerback. At edge rusher, the Ravens could be eyeing up Andre Carter II, B.J. Ojulari, Adetomiwa Adeboware, Will McDonald IV, and Isaiah Foskey.
With the extra picks, the Ravens could nab themselves an extra offensive lineman or running back. Both these positions are not desperate needs this year but will be in upcoming seasons.
As shown, there are many viable options in both trade-down scenarios. It will likely depend on which teams are willing to move up and how the draft board shakes up. As such, expect any trade to only be made on draft day.
Main Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports