Ravens gearing up for a draft that will be vital to their success

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta describes the NFL draft as the lifeblood of the franchise.

With a tight salary cap and $260 million invested in quarterback Lamar Jackson, adding young, affordable talent is more important than ever.

The Ravens still have numerous holes to fill on the current roster, mainly on the offensive line, secondary, wide receiver and outside linebacker.

DeCosta will look to fill those holes through this year’s draft, which starts April 25th, and many of the rookies will need to make an immediate impact.

That’s a strategy that works just fine for the organization.

“Fundamentally, we are always going to be focused on the draft. I mean, look at our history,” DeCosta said. “Now, in the last couple of years, we have traded draft picks for players, in some cases, but generally, we’re going to be a draft-centric team. And as we’ve said, the landscape has changed a little bit, because we’re paying a quarterback – who deserves it – a lot of money, and that’s going to have a salary cap ramification for sure.

“We’ll start to feel that. We started to feel that last year. We’ll feel that this year, as do a lot of teams, so draft picks are very important to us and will continue to be very important.”

The Ravens have nine picks in the draft, which gives the team more flexibility to make moves. DeCosta could trade the 30th overall pick to acquire even more selections or he could move up in the order to grab a player that is high on their draft board.

“We like to have a lot of draft picks, and I would expect us to have a lot of draft picks this year,” DeCosta said at the NFL Combine.

DeCosta has said numerous times that he likes the depth of this year’s draft, especially with offensive linemen. He also is confident this is a deep class for wide receivers. .

The Ravens will rely heavily on a number of the new players to defend their AFC North crown and make a deep playoff run.

“We’ve got a great process,” DeCosta said. “We’ve got great evaluators. Our coaching staff does a phenomenal job, and we also develop players, so I don’t really subscribe to the idea of windows opening and closing. I’d like to believe that with careful roster building and good drafting and development of players, the window is going to always be open.”

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