Two positions have dominated pre-draft talk surrounding the Ravens – cornerback and wide receiver.
With the acquisition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. last week, even more focus has shifted toward cornerback as the position Baltimore will likely address first.
However, if the Ravens pull a surprise, which player might they select?
Asked that question on "The Lounge" podcast, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. looked to the defensive trenches and brought up Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee.
The Ravens have young talented players along their defensive line, including Justin Madubuike, Travis Jones and Broderick Washington, along with veterans Michael Pierce and Brent Urban. However, the defensive suffered a significant loss when respected veteran Calais Campbell signed with the Falcons.
"Who fits their scheme? Brian Bresee, from Clemson, a local kid out of Damascus (Maryland) High," Kiper said.
"Great family, his sister passed away this year, so he dealt with some mental anguish. He had the medical issue this year with the (kidney) infection, he had the ACL two years ago. He had the great freshman year at Clemson, he was the No. 1 player coming out of high school at any position. … Brian looked rejuvenated at the Combine. He's got size, he's got physicality. If there was a curveball thrown by the Ravens trading out of No. 22 down in the first round, it would be Brian Bresee for me."
In his most recent mock draft, Kiper has the Ravens taking Banks at No. 22, with Bresee going to AFC North rival Cincinnati at No. 28.
Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness is another player who could intrigue the Ravens, according to Kiper, who mocked Van Ness at No. 24 to Jacksonville. The Ravens have a successful history with Iowa players, most recently Tyler Linderbaum, who took over as their starting center last year after being selected with the 25th-overall pick. Kiper views Van Ness as another Iowa product likely to continue improving once he reaches the NFL.
"He's just raw," Kiper said. "He really needed another year. He's a hockey guy, he's got that mentality. I think he's got to get some pass rush moves. I see the potential, I like the talent and potential he has. The versatility, he can play inside, outside, up, down. I think he could be in the mix. (But) I think more so Brian Bresee over Van Ness for the Ravens."
It would again be a surprise, but the Ravens could also address the offensive line in the first round. In his first mock draft, Peter Schrager of NFL Network has the Ravens picking offensive tackle Darnell Wright of Tennessee. The Ravens have an opening at left guard while starters Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses are returning, but could the Ravens have an eye on 2024 and beyond?
"Wright's a likely first-rounder, though NFL teams seem a little mixed on the mauling tackle," Schrager wrote. "There's no questioning his dominant performance in Tennessee's thrilling win over Alabama last October, when Wright erased ballyhooed edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. In this simulation, the Ravens grab the 6-5, 333-pounder and figure he'll be a key piece of the team's future, whether Lamar Jackson is or not."