It took a while but it looks like the NFL Draft will finally happen starting Thursday.

Because of a scheduling conflict, the draft at Radio City Music Hall (NYC) had to be pushed back two weeks. Although the other scheduled event was cancelled, the draft will still be starting on May 8th. Hopefully we won’t have to wait even longer next year

But that is neither here nor there, as a lot can change in a year. This is also why the significance of draft picks can vary as much also.

The Redskins looked to have the better deal after RGIII brought them to the playoffs in his rookie year. Although he regressed last year, and the beneficiaries of the draft picks from that 2012 trade, the St. Louis Rams have put together a very competitive and young team, and can add on to it in this draft.

The same goes with the Falcons who also made a large trade to get Julio Jones three years ago. It looked like a smart move until they collapsed last year with a 4-12 record. They have many holes to address in this particularly deep draft.

The Ravens are in a middle spot of the draft which only helps them. Ozzie Newsome tends to pick the ‘best player available’ rather than go for need. This could be the reason why so few first round picks by the Ravens are busts, and why so many of those same picks end up going to the Pro Bowl.

So it’s logical that there will be some highly rated players that will slide into the draft just for the Ravens to come swoop them up, as if they are metaphorical ravens.

They could always trade back in the round, as they have done several times. It also helps that the Ravens hit on great players no matter their position.

Having the seventeenth pick can make them consider three options:

1) They hold on to their pick and take the highest rated player on their board. This is likely to happen as it’s very likely one of the two highest ranked safeties, the highest ranked middle linebacker, the highest ranked tight end, and some of the highest ranked offensive tackles could be available at their pick. The Ravens used this method with many of their picks, such as Ed Reed (who lasted until #24) and Terrell Suggs (#10 after being considered gone by at most #5).

2) Of course, if there is one they absolutely must have, the Ravens could always trade up to a higher position. I am kind of hoping the Ravens trade up to the twelfth pick and pick the free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Or, if he’s somehow gone, get safety Calvin Pryor. Both are the top rated safeties and there’s no telling if both will be taken by the 16th selection. Plus, other teams can and will trade with other team’s picks to snatch players in front of others.

The Patriots did this to the Ravens recently when they traded into the spot in front of them and selected middle linebacker Donta Hightower.

3) The last option is to trade back into a later pick in order to stockpile more selections. There’s always a better chance to get a franchise player by increasing the number taken. The Ravens had a pick in the top 10 in 2008, traded back two times, and then traded up to #18 to get Flacco. That turned out well for everyone.

If all goes according to plan, the Ravens will get to fill their needs and have some great young players to start for years to come. They do need a right tackle, free safety, a cornerback, and maybe a tight end. They could grab a back up quarterback, and plenty of the QBs in this draft are moderate and expected to go in the 2nd-4th rounds.

For draft predictions, I can see the Ravens getting Clinton-Dix, but then again I’m not a fortune teller. They could get Baltimore native Kyle Fuller (CB) or C.J. Mosley (MLB) who’s from Ozzie’s alma mater.

The Browns, however, I can totally see taking Johnny Manziel with the fourth overall pick. Even if Browns fans say they wouldn’t pass up taking wide receiver Sammy Watkins, or articles say they will definitely not pick him, it still seems like destiny. Part of the reason I think they’ll take Manziel is the same reason why they took Brady Quinn in the 2007 draft, and why the Cardinals took Matt Leinert in the 2006 draft.

If the Ravens don’t get all of their positional needs filled, they always have the opportunity to sign many undrafted players, as well as the opportunity to look to make trades with other teams. They have done the latter before when they got Anquan Boldin.

The draft starts tomorrow and will only cover the first round, which is the more exciting than of all the other rounds. The other six rounds will play out on Friday and Saturday. Maybe take a peek to at least see what the Ravens pick. Be forewarned that the round could last as long as three hours, depending on the number of trades and commercial breaks. -CW

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