OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- No one expects the Baltimore Ravens to tip their hand on whom they're taking at the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft.
“If you’re going to go to Vegas and bet, there’s probably five or six really elite defensive players where we’re picking and maybe three or four [offensive players],” assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said.
The biggest takeaway from the Ravens' pre-draft press conference on Tuesday is that the odds favor Baltimore taking a defensive player with its first pick.
As DeCosta alluded to, the top of the draft is stacked at defense with Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. The only one who has virtually no chance to drop to Baltimore at No. 6 is Ramsey.
It's thinner on the offensive side of the ball. When you take quarterbacks out of the equation, the top offensive players are two tackles (Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil and Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley) and a running back (Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott). Considering the Ravens are focusing on adding playmakers -- players who can help them overcome nine close losses in 2015 -- it doesn't seem like they'll take an offensive tackle. That was supported by what team officials said during the 50-minute press conference.
Coach John Harbaugh stressed the importance of adding versatile players, specifically naming Jack and Bosa. Director of college scouting Joe Hortiz mentioned how there are tough, physical offensive linemen who can play left tackle beyond Tunsil and Stanley.
"We’re at a position at [pick No.] 6 where we think we’re going to get a very, very good player," DeCosta said. "Defensively, you’ve got pass-rushers, you’ve got corners; those are playmakers, guys that can sack the quarterback, guys that can intercept passes."
The Ravens defense finished at No. 8 in the NFL last season, but it wasn't a game-changing one. Baltimore ranked last in the NFL with six interceptions and gave up a franchise-worst 30 touchdown passes. The Ravens also recorded 37 sacks, 12 fewer than the previous season.
Adding fast, disruptive playmakers can help turn around a 5-11 season. The Ravens will be improved if they have Buckner or Bosa chasing quarterbacks, Jack running sideline to sideline or Hargreaves picking off passes.
Going defense early in drafts has been a calling card for the franchise. The Ravens have taken a defensive player with their first pick in 12 of their 20 drafts, including five of the last six. It's an approach that's typically been successful, yielding six Pro Bowl players and two defensive players of the year (Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs).
But, in 2016, taking a defensive player in the first round is more than a historical trend for the Ravens. It's considered the smart bet.