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How Do Ravens Free Agency Moves Impact Draft?

Posted Mar 16, 2014

ESPN’s Mel Kiper still feels the Ravens will go after a receiving target.

There has been a common theme for the Ravens in the first few installments of this year’s mock drafts.

Nearly all of the experts expected the Ravens to target offense in their most recent installment of mock drafts released last week, specifically wide receiver or tight end.

But a lot has changed since then. The Ravens have re-signed top priorities in left tackle Eugene Monroe, tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Jacoby Jones, and added wide receiver Steve Smith.

So how have the early moves in free agency changed expectations for this year’s draft?

“It really doesn’t affect their first round,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said Thursday on a national conference call.

In his latest mock released Thursday, Kiper has the Ravens taking wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The 5-foot-9 receiver would give the Ravens a speedy target out of the slot who can work the middle of the field. Kiper compared him to Smith.

Adding Smith could change the needs for the Ravens, but right now Kiper views Baltimore as a team still in the market for a first-round receiver.

“I think you look at wide receiver, getting a true No. 1,” Kiper said. “Maybe it’s Mike Evans. He’s not going to be there at No. 17. If you want Mike Evans you’re going to have to move up to get him. Eric Ebron, it’s borderline whether he’ll be there, the tight end from North Carolina. He’s a glorified receiver.”

Evans, from Texas A&M, has been linked to the Ravens in a number of mock drafts, but his stock is on the rise after a strong combine performance. Kiper expects him to be a top-10 pick.

Ebron is also a popular mock draft target for the Ravens, and Kiper still thinks the Ravens may target him even after bringing back Pitta.

“He’s a threat,” Kiper said. “He’s a great, great receiving entity. I would think he’s there, but he could be gone. The one team that could look at him other than the Ravens are the New York Giants, who pick at No. 12. They certainly could use an Eric Ebron. If he doesn’t go at 12, he probably will get to 17.”

If the Ravens don’t land Ebron or Evans, then Kiper pointed to LSU’s Odell Beckham, Jr., and USC’s Marqise Lee as two other receiving targets that may be of interest.

“I think Baltimore could still make an addition in the passing game before the end of free agency, but this will remain a need,” Kiper said.

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