<
>

Would Ravens shock everyone (including owner) and draft Baker Mayfield?

The most interesting mock draft for the Baltimore Ravens was released Tuesday, when NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah (a former Ravens scout) predicted that Baltimore would take Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the No. 16 overall pick.

That would come as a surprise, including to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

Last month, Bisciotti shot down the notion that the Ravens were beginning to think about life after quarterback Joe Flacco.

"We've got bigger fish to fry," Bisciotti said.

Linking the Ravens to Mayfield or any other quarterback isn't completely off base. There's some logic to it, in fact.

The Ravens in 2019 can move on from Flacco, who hasn't played up to a contract that ranks among the richest in the NFL. Flacco ranks No. 36 in passer rating since being named Super Bowl MVP, throwing 98 touchdowns and 74 interceptions over the past five seasons.

If Baltimore was thinking about moving on from Flacco, 33, the selection of Mayfield makes sense. Mayfield was one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history, winning the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. Taking a quarterback this year would allow him to sit for a year behind Flacco before having to play.

But this would be a bold move for a franchise that has to win now. The Ravens haven't reached the playoffs for three straight seasons, and there's an urgency to add playmakers to produce immediately. It's difficult to make a pick aimed at helping the team in the future when there are jobs on the line now.

The other line of thinking is a team can't pass on a quarterback you really like because you never know what that quarterback class will look like next year or the year after that.

Mayfield would be a completely different pick than Flacco a decade ago. He's a shorter but brasher quarterback from a big-time program, which contrasts the taller and more stoic Flacco who came from what he called the minor leagues of college football.

Opinions vary greatly on Mayfield, one of the more polarizing figures in the draft. Some believe he has the size (he's listed at 6-foot-1) to warrant a pick in the top half of the first round, and others believe he has the "it factor" to be the face of a franchise.

Mayfield's numbers are jaw-dropping. Over the past two seasons, he completed over 70 percent of his passes while throwing 83 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

There are character concerns. A year ago, he was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing. Teams have to be certain about not repeating a Johnny Manziel situation.

Mayfield also created some controversy during his playing career, from planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield of Ohio Stadium following a win over Ohio State to grabbing his crotch and cursing at the Kansas sideline. He later apologized for both incidents.

At the NFL combine, Mayfield showed a strong arm and tested well, according to ESPN's Todd McShay. He's considered the 10th-best prospect in the draft by Mel Kiper Jr.

The Ravens have only drafted two quarterbacks in the first round -- Kyle Boller in 2003 and Flacco in 2008 -- and have never selected one in the top half of the first round.