The problem with winning a championship and then trying to do it again is that the entire universe is against you. Have holes to fill? Ha, good luck in free agency, because that 32nd perch in the first round sure does suck.
The Ravens did that, as after a gutting early in free agency, general manager Ozzie Newsome plugged multiple holes by signing the likes of Michael Huff, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Rolando McClain, and Elvis Dumervil. Aside from that last guy, those signings are all at minimum slight downgrades, but they’re capable nonetheless.
One hole that’s a pretty big deal remains, though: left tackle, and Newsome could be eying a solution that requires a bounding leap up from that 32nd spot.
The solution’s name is Lane Johnson, and he’d be a sizable upgrade over Bryant McKinne, the 33-year-old free agent who’s Newsome’s fallback option. The Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston reports that Newsome will be watching Johnson rather closely tomorrow night, and if he begins to fall the Ravens could quickly become one of the few teams ready and willing to trade up.
The floor is yours, Mike:
The Ravens will be keeping an eye on Oklahoma left offensive tackle Lane Johnson.
He is rated the third-best at the position in the draft, and a lot of the experts have predicted he will go in the top 10 picks, but the Ravens might trade up for him at a reasonable cost. The Ravens have some options because they have 12 picks.
Here’s the thing about this: it’s likely, almost definitely not happening.
Firstly, in a draft with no premier, no doubt prospect, teams at the top are content to shrug their shoulders and make the maybe unsexy but very safe pick. This year, those picks are all left tackles, with Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher at the top, and they’re followed closely by Johnson.
It’s highly possible that Joeckel and Fisher will come off the board back-to-back as the top two overall picks. The Raiders will likely roll with a defensive tackle (either Sharrif Floyd or Star Lotulelei), and then the Eagles and Lions will also seek a tackle. Follow all that? Good, because the tumble of those dominoes ultimately leads to Johnson being a top five pick.
Preston is certainly correct when he observes that the Ravens have a lot of flexibility with their 12 picks, five of which are in the top 130. That’s plenty of bullets in Newsome’s draft trade pistol, and in a draft where everyone and anyone wants to trade down, all offers to trade up will be heard and/or lunged at.
So yes, we’re saying there’s a chance for Ozzie if he really wants to move up and land Johnson that badly. But man, jumping up maybe 27 picks is, um, steep.