Dan Shonka, the GM of Ourlads’ NFL Scouting Services and a former NFL scout, joined Glenn Clark Radio April 15 to discuss who the Ravens could target in the 2020 NFL Draft at each of their positions of need. Here’s a rundown of what he had to say.
After losing Josh Bynes (Cincinnati Bengals) and Patrick Onwuasor (New York Jets) in free agency, the Ravens are thin at inside linebacker, with L.J. Fort, Chris Board and Otaro Alaka being the only ones on the roster right now. The Ravens also reportedly agreed to a deal with free-agent linebacker Jake Ryan.
Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen have been popular picks in mock drafts for the Ravens at No. 28. Murray played in 40 games for the Sooners from 2017-2019, posting 325 tackles (36.5 for loss) and 9.5 sacks. Queen played in 29 games for the Tigers the past three seasons, recording 131 tackles (17.5 for loss) and four sacks. Queen’s breakout year came in 2019 (85 tackles).
Shonka prefers Murray because of the Oklahoma standout’s longer track record.
“On film, [Queen] showed great explosiveness. He’s more of a lateral guy rather than a downhill guy. Hey, can he cover? You’ve got a small book on him,” Shonka said. “He can run, obviously. He can really clean up behind the line of scrimmage. At least Murray, you’ve seen him year after year. You’ve got a good book on him. You’ve got a good feel. He’s a very smart, intelligent guy. He’s got a little better arm length. He can play in coverage. He can go lateral or get downhill and work through traffic. So I think with the total experience and everything, Murray would be our guy.”
Interior Offensive Line
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Bradley Bozeman and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. return for the Ravens, but Baltimore has some questions to answer at the other two spots. Legendary right guard Marshal Yanda retired. Center Matt Skura recently signed his restricted free-agent tender, but he’s working his way back from a devastating knee injury. Patrick Mekari filled in for Skura at center after the late November injury.
If the Ravens choose to address the offensive line with the No. 28 pick, one option would be Michigan center Cesar Ruiz, who started 31 games for the Wolverines from 2017-2019. Twenty-six of those starts came at center, with the other five coming at right guard. Shonka thinks Ruiz can play either spot.
“First of all, one of the toughest things you have to do as an offensive lineman — obviously if you’re a center — is to step and snap and make your block in unison,” Shonka said. “That’s very tough to do, and that’s something he can do, get to the second level, cut off linebackers and things like that. So your second-level pursuit, he can do that, which guards have to do. I think certainly he would make a good fit in there at right guard or at center.”
The Ravens could also look to upgrade at receiver with the No. 28 pick. Baltimore brings back Marquise Brown, who caught 46 passes for 584 yards in 14 games but was limited by a foot issue that dated back to his days at Oklahoma. The Ravens also return Willie Snead (31, 339) and Miles Boykin (13, 198).
Should Baltimore choose to add to that receiver corps in the first round, who could they target? Shonka thinks the Ravens would have to consider Baylor’s Denzel Mims or Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool if they’re available at No. 28, and he likes how Clemson’s Tee Higgins would fit on the Ravens as well.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Mims caught 186 passes for 2,925 yards and 28 touchdowns during his four-year career at Baylor.
“He ended up being an ascending player,” Shonka said of Mims. “He got better and better and better through his senior year. He knocked it out at the Senior Bowl, and then he had a spectacular Combine. Here’s a guy with long arms, great speed. He ran a 4.3-something. Big target. He’s got a great catch radius, so I think he’s in that mix.”
The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Claypool caught 150 passes for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns in four years at Notre Dame.
“There’s another guy who had an outstanding senior year, knocked it out at the Combine, had a great Senior Bowl,” Shonka said of Claypool. “You kind of want to put everything together. From the career that he had, to the year that he had as a senior and then going in there to the all-star games and then to the Combine, then you’re really seeing a true picture of the guy of how he’s played.”
The Ravens franchise-tagged outside linebacker Matthew Judon, who racked up 9.5 sacks in 2019, and also return young edge rushers Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson. Bowser, who turns 25 in May, will be looking to break out during a contract year; he has just 8.5 sacks in three years to his name thus far. Ferguson, 24, is the all-time FBS sack leader but had just 2.5 as a rookie in 2019.
If the Ravens look to add to the mix with the No. 28 pick, Shonka believes Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos would fit the bill, though he cautioned the New England Patriots could take him at No. 23. The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Gross-Matos had 18.5 sacks at Penn State from 2017-2019.
“He kind of looks like Judon, to be honest with you. He might not be as thick right now, but he’s long, he’s got those long arms,” Shonka said. “Probably why he’s down in that area of 28 is because he disappeared once in a while and he wouldn’t show up. But when he plays, this guy is terrific. And sometimes you get into a program like the Ravens, you know that you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game every snap or else you’re not going to be around there long and you’re not going to help them win championships.”
The Ravens produced a historic rushing attack in 2019, running for 3,296 yards on 596 attempts. Baltimore returns all of the primary contributors to that rushing attack save for right guard Marshal Yanda, but ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio recently suggested that the Ravens should aim to build running back depth early in the draft to build on their strength.
If the Ravens were to take a running back at No. 28, Shonka believes Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins would be the best fit. He ran for 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns while catching 71 passes for 645 yards for the Buckeyes from 2017-2019. Shonka says the 5-foot-9, 209-pound back takes care of the ball better than Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Georgia D’Andre Swift.
“At 28, if they took Dobbins from Ohio State — I think he’ll be there — I wouldn’t argue that,” Shonka said. “I know John Harbaugh and [offensive coordinator Greg Roman], they’re not big into turnovers and things. Taylor has laid the ball on the ground 18 times in his career and Swift, seven or eight. But Dobbins doesn’t, plus he’s a better blocker than either of the other two. So if they took him at 28, I wouldn’t argue that point.”
The Ravens return leading receiver Mark Andrews (64 catches, 852 yards, 10 touchdowns) and blocking extraordinaire Nick Boyle, who played 70 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. But gone is 2018 first-round pick Hayden Hurst, who was traded to the Atlanta Falcons after catching 30 passes for 349 yards this past year. The trio combined for 43 percent of the team’s receptions in 2019.
Should the Ravens try to recreate the success they had with two- and three-tight-end sets, who could they target with pick 55 or 60 in the second round? Shonka suggests Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet, the 6-foot-6, 262-pound tight end who caught 43 passes for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.
“I think the only guy that might be there is Kmet from Notre Dame,” Shonka said. “He’s an in-line blocker. He catches the ball really well, and a very physical guy — for the Ravens, that’s what they’re looking for.”
For more from Shonka, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Oklahoma, U-M and Baylor Athletics