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Ravens More Unpredictable Than Ever

Posted May 7, 2014

More than previous years, the Ravens could go in many different directions with their top pick.


Wide receiver Mike Evans.

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Wide receiver Marquise Lee.

Tight end Eric Ebron.

Tackle Zack Martin.

Tackle Taylor Lewan.

Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Safety Calvin Pryor.

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Safety Jimmie Ward.

Defensive tackle Ra’shede Hageman.

Nose tackle Timmy Jernigan.

Those are the players (and there are probably more) that have been projected to the Ravens in mock drafts this spring. Got ‘em all?

There’s rarely a total consensus among mock drafts, especially when it comes to Baltimore because General Manager Ozzie Newsome drafts according to best player available (BPA) and nobody knows his player rankings.

But this year more than others, it seems the Ravens could go in any direction in the first round. And that’s exactly what they want.

It’s the result of having addressed many of their team needs in free agency, but still having many remaining, both in the short and long term. The Ravens have truly put themselves into a position to stick to their age-old BPA model.

“Some of the moves we made helped us eliminate some problems on the roster,” Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said. “Now we have the possibility to go into the draft and pick the best player that falls to us.”

At last week’s pre-draft press conference, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked how important it is to add a running back.

His answer drew laughter, but it’s not far from the truth.

“It’s important to add a running back, but we’ve got some other spots, too,” Harbaugh said.

“It’s important to add an offensive lineman, a wide receiver, a tight end and some depth at quarterback. It’s important to add a safety, a corner, inside backer and a defensive tackle. So, that’s where I’m at right now.”

Here’s the argument for the different positions in the first round:

Offensive Lineman
The Ravens’ greatest struggles last year were on the offensive line. It may also have their biggest remaining hole at right tackle, where Rick Wagner and Jah Reid are the top starting contenders. Baltimore’s run game needs to improve, as does the protection of Joe Flacco.

Wide Receiver
Baltimore added Steve Smith and re-signed Jacoby Jones. They have Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. But this year’s receiver class is talented and deep, and it could be a chance to grab an immediate difference-maker at the position.

Tight End
The Ravens re-signed Dennis Pitta and brought in veteran Owen Daniels. Still, they’re largely in the discussion to add another tight end. New Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak loves throwing to tight ends and Daniels only has a one-year contract.

Cornerback
The top cornerbacks will go quickly, so the Ravens may not be able to get one even close in talent later in the draft. Baltimore has a need at No. 3 cornerback, which is a critical position, and starter Lardarius Webb’s salary will jump after next season. The Ravens have said you can’t have too many corners.

Defensive Tackle
The loss of Art Jones to the Indianapolis Colts could hurt. The Ravens defense starts in the trenches. Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata is currently only signed through 2015, and will reportedly have a $16 million cap hit next year.

Safety
The Ravens let James Ihedigbo go to Detroit, leaving an opening at starter. They signed Darian Stewart, but his starting experience is all at strong safety, where Baltimore wants to move last year’s first-round pick Matt Elam. Stewart has also had trouble staying healthy.

Inside Linebacker
The Ravens re-signed Daryl Smith to a four-year contract. Yet he’s 32 years old and entering his 11th season. Baltimore has second-year inside linebacker Arthur Brown, but could look to bolster the position for the long term.

So which way will the Ravens go? It’s anybody’s guess.

“One of the best things about the Ravens on draft day is they’re one of the most versatile teams in football,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said. “They truly trust their board.”

 

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