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Mel Kiper Names One Sliding Prospect Ravens Would 'Have to Take'


Every year as the NFL Draft approaches, there's some late buzz about a top-notch prospect falling down the draft board for any number of reasons.

Are NFL front offices trying to throw other teams off the scent? Trying to make a prospect get drafted ahead of them, or fall to them? Is it the media just catching up? Who knows.

This year, a couple of those players are at a Ravens position of need: pass rusher. Mississippi State's Montez Sweat and Michigan's Rashaan Gary – two prospects once widely seen as top-10 picks – could be there at No. 22.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr, however, thinks the Ravens should only take one of them if that's the case.

"If [Sweat is] there, you almost have to take him," Kiper said. "If your medical is fine with the heart situation. If your doctors clear him, if he's there, he's the best player on my board and would override the other players."

Kiper has been a proponent of beefing up the Ravens' interior offensive line, and his latest pick to Baltimore is Texas A&M center/guard Erik McCoy.

But Sweat was a highly-productive player the past two seasons (22.5 sacks) and matched it with record-setting athleticism at the Combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds while measuring in at 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds.

What's pushed him down mock drafts – and completely off some draft boards, according to MMQB’s Albert Breer – is a pre-existing heart condition revealed at the Combine. Now Breer, who has Sweat going to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 25 in his latest mock draft, says there are other red flags as well.

Sweat was scheduled to attend the draft in Nashville, but has since changed his mind.

"Failed drug tests earlier on as a collegian, his dismissal from Michigan State, and his handling of the pre-draft process have added to the trepidation teams have on the 6' 6", 260-pound freak," Breer wrote. "Thursday could be interesting for a player who, on talent, should be a Top 10 pick."

Gary is going at No. 21 in Breer's latest mock draft, which is a steep drop from where he was pegged a month ago. Gary is another freakish athlete, but he didn't have as much production as Sweat. It was also reported Tuesday that Gary has a shoulder issue.

The top high school recruit in the country in 2016, Gary showed his potential at Michigan but finished with just 9.5 sacks in three seasons. Of any team, the Ravens would likely have some very strong intelligence on Gary considering he was coached by John Harbaugh's brother, Jim.

But even if Gary reaches Baltimore, Kiper isn't so sure he would be the pick.

"Rashan Gary – a sack guy – he's not that yet. He didn't produce in college," Kiper said. "If he's there, I don't know if they would take him or not because you have to coach him up and hope you can do things that weren't done at Michigan."

Kiper believes Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush will not reach pick No. 22 and pointed instead to some inside linebackers in the third round, including Alabama's Mack Wilson.

Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell is the other top-notch edge rusher who Kiper thinks could be available for the Ravens to draft in the first round.

"Ferrell could because he's not a guaranteed big-time edge rusher in the NFL. I think people have concerns about whether he'll run into some resistance at the pro level," Kiper said. "But he does have length and he does have some sack production, and he has been a guy that has played hard and gives you good run support as well."

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