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Mel Kiper: Tackles Won't Last Till No. 17


If the Ravens want a big-time offensive tackle, they may have to trade up.

ESPN's Mel Kiper believes four offensive tackles will be taken with the first 16 picks. Unfortunately for those fans that want more protection for Joe Flacco, Baltimore is on the clock at No. 17.

Across numerous mock drafts, Auburn's Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews are shoo-ins as top-10 picks. That leaves Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Notre Dame's Zack Martin as possibilities.

But Kiper is very high on Lewan and sees Martin's stock rising as the draft approaches, which could make them unavailable for the Ravens.

"Zack Martin, I don't think will be there. I don't think any chance of Lewan being there," Kiper said. "I would say, for Martin or Lewan, you have to look at an alternative plan."

There is some thought that Lewan could slide into the middle of the first round because of off-field troubles. He still faces three misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a fight following this year's Michigan-Ohio State game.

However, Kiper has Lewan projected at No. 6 to the Atlanta Falcons in his latest mock draft, and believes he's the third or fourth best player overall in the draft. Kiper said Lewan is better right now than Robinson, although he doesn't have as much upside.

"[Lewan's] pass protection skills have improved this year to where you weren't beating him," Kiper said. "He's got great speed, great balance, got a punch. He can get after you as a run blocker. To me, Lewan is a nasty, tough street fighter. He's a battler."

Martin was seen as a mid-to-late round prospect for much of this offseason, but may be creeping up boards in part because he's seen as a "safe pick." Some pundits have called him the cleanest player in the draft.

Martin was steady as a left tackle for four years at Notre Dame, giving evaluators plenty of game tape. He can play multiple positions on the offensive line. He also shined during Senior Bowl practices.

"The kid is a reliable, consistent player," Kiper said. "He'll come in there right away and help you. He's the safe pick. He could go anywhere in the top 17 who needs an offensive lineman. That's down to Baltimore picking at No. 17."

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