The Ravens have 23 unrestricted free agents and just $13.65M in cap space heading into 2024, per Pro Football Focus. That means building through the 2024 NFL Draft is almost a necessity.
Baltimore has several options it can go with its first-round pick, but NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund has the team strengthening its already stout defense in her latest mock draft.
With pick No. 30, Frelund has the Ravens selecting UCLA edge-rusher Laiatu Latu. “Latu’s value at the edge-rushing position slightly wins out,” Frelund writes. “The pre-draft medical evaluations for Latu will be something to monitor, as he did have a serious neck injury at Washington before transferring to UCLA.”
Latu is great value at the end of the first round as he currently ranks as PFF’s third-best edge-rusher and No. 18 overall prospect on its big board.
The UCLA product could be a day-one starter since edge-rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy are both set to become free agents.
He’ll have big shoes to fill after the two combined for 73 tackles, 18.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2023. Many believe he will continue his dominance from the past two years when he totaled 85 tackles, 23.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions. Latu’s injury history is a reason for concern, however.
He suffered his neck injury at the beginning of his sophomore year and Washington’s team doctors later said that it would be too dangerous for him to continue playing football.
Latu ultimately decided to transfer to UCLA, where he was cleared to play by team physicians, and the rest is history. Baltimore may opt to go in a different direction than Latu as a result, however.
The Ravens spent their 2022 second-round pick on edge-rusher David Ojabo, who had a questionable medical history and he has played in just five games the past two years. Frelund named North Carolina WR Devontez Walker and Missouri edge-rusher Darius Robinson as other good options.
Whichever way Baltimore decides to go, it will have another great opportunity to fight for a Super Bowl in 2024 with now two-time NFL MVP QB Lamar Jackson locked up for years to come.