I’m leaning heavily towards false.
The Baltimore Ravens’ brain-trust addressed the media for their annual pre-draft presser that is both infamously and comically referred to as the ‘Liar’s Luncheon’. The humorous nickname is rather accurate and applies to every franchise across the league since no one is actually going to divulge their true intentions with the big event a little over a week away.
Teams will overstate the obvious, reiterate previous stances on where the team stands and continue to beat the drum that certain position groups on the roster aren’t in nearly as dire straits as they appear to be on the outside. They will also try to misdirect and deflect questions pertaining to potential seismic level moves that could occur leading up to or during the draft, as they should because it’s smart business.
One Monday, General Manager Eric DeCosta gave an answer to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley that this sports writer isn’t quite buying. Hensley asked about the chances that starting right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. gets his trade request to go play left tackle elsewhere granted before or the day of the draft.
“I’m not going to talk about any ongoing discussions with Orlando [Brown Jr.], or whatever that might be,” DeCosta predictably said. “There are always a lot of moving parts in any offseason. We’re just getting ready for the Draft, and we’re basically just approaching this as how can we build the best possible team to play in September.”
My main takeaway from those comments is that the Ravens are preparing for the draft as if they fully expect Brown Jr. to be on the roster when the 2021 season kicks off. However, in the event that they are given an offer too rich to pass up for the two-time Pro Bowler, there’s no way we can be expected to believe that they don’t have a contingency plan in place that wouldn’t drastically alter their strategy in the draft.
If they lose a Pro Bowl right tackle that can also play left tackle at a high level like Brown Jr. has proven he can do, even in a deeper than usual draft class at tackle, getting one capable of replacing a player of his caliber is going to sky rocket up their list of needs.
Even for team like the Ravens who have a rich history of unearthing and developing players a every position on the offensive line, finding an immediate replacement that will have little to no drop off is easier said than done.
It will likely require a swing at the position one day one or two whereas if Brown Jr. were to stay put, they could possibly wait until day three and take a developmental prospect that could essentially red shirt for year and be ready to start by 2022.
My theory was further supported when DeCosta didn’t dismiss the idea of spending their first round pick on a lineman that follows one of the prime directives that the team set out at the onset of the offseason.
“If there’s a really good player there, we’re going to pick him. That’s going to give us the best chance to win, it’s going to help our offense succeed, and it’s going to make us a tough team to play against,” DeCosta said.
“If you go back to the early press conferences that John has had and when I’ve spoken this offseason, we’ve talked about the importance of the offensive line. That’s a constant. When you play the type of football that we play, offensive line is always going to be a priority for us. We want to build the best offensive line we can in the short term, in the long term, looking out and making sure that we have adequate depth at every spot.”
This comment translates to me that taking a tackle is not only in play for the Ravens at 27 overall, it might take precedent over a more glamorous position of perceived need such as wide receiver.
Hensley also asked DeCosta to confirm the report by NFL Networks Ian Rapoport that the team would be hosting veteran free agent offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva for a visit sometime this week. True to form, he was given answer similar to the one that Jeremy Renner’s character gave in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation when asked to divulge details of mission executed by covert operative Ethan Hunt who was portrayed by Tom Cruise.
“I’m also not going to comment on any reports of players visiting or not visiting Baltimore,” DeCosts said. “Again, it doesn’t really benefit us to talk about those kinds of things, especially this time of year.”
This comment from DeCosta was simply him not confirming the already leaked information. The report itself tells me that they are prepared to not only cover their bases for any eventuality that unfolds in regards to a possible Brown Jr. trade but reinforcing the depth of a position that was sorely lacking it last season is a priority as well.
Feel free to share your answer and reasoning in the comments.