*With the NFL Draft coming up in late April, BaltimoreRavens.com takes another sweep around the web to look at what others are saying about the Ravens' chances with the 26th pick. *
Keep in mind that things will change as free agency continues, and teams will most-certainly try to trade picks, players and money to move up or down in the first round, but here is an early look at what the pundits think:
While many draft analysts had the Ravens selecting a cornerback in the first round, that pick has started to shift towards linebacker, with Ohio State's James Laurinaitis receiving multiple votes.
That could be largely because of the departure of inside 'backer Bart Scott, who signed with the New York Jets on the first day of free agency.
ESPN.com's Todd McShay, noted for his heated battles with Mel Kiper, Jr., leading up to selection weekend, predicted a Ravens-Laurainitis marriage back on Feb. 27 in the third version of his mock draft.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State –"This is a tough decision for the Ravens. ILB James Laurinaitis simply isn't the right guy to play in the Ravens' scheme, and if the team is going to use this pick on a wide receiver it would have to be one with the vertical speed to take advantage of QB Joe Flacco's rare arm strength. [Alphonso] Smith becomes the best available option at this point because he's the top cornerback on the board, but the Ravens would likely go in a different direction if [Rey] Maualuga or Heyward-Bey falls here."
Wes Bunting from The National Football Post also predicts Laurinaitis will drop into Baltimore's laps at 26. Note that the Ravens did sign linebacker Ray Lewis to a new contract this week.
*James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State – *"With the Ravens losing ILB Bart Scott to free agency and the loss of Ray Lewis still a possibility, Baltimore may be praying that a talent like Laurinaitis falls to them on draft day. Laurinaitis is an instinctive defender who should be able to make an instant impact in the Ravens' 3-4 defense."
Jamie Dukes agrees, citing a slow time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine as a reason for the former Buckeye's fall. Laurinaitis ran a 4.78-second time in Indianapolis, by the way.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State –"Speed issues have dropped a top-10 football player into the bottom of the first round."
Likewise, Chad Reuter of NFLDraftScout.com has the Ravens adding linebacker depth with Laurinaitis.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State -"Bart Scott's departure opens up a spot inside next to Ray Lewis."
Then, there are believers that the Ravens will take a wideout for quarterback Joe Flacco to stretch the field with his strong arm.
Ryan McCrystal's DraftAce.com names Kenny Britt of Rutgers as that man. Britt is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound underclassman that had three very productive years in college. Last season, he caught* *87 passes for 1,371 yards and seven touchdowns.
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers –"The departure of Bart Scott creates a serious hole at inside linebacker, but it isn't one they'll be able to fill here unless Maualuga or Laurinaitis falls. Wide receiver has been a need in Baltimore for a number of years and it may finally be time to address that need in the first round. Britt impressed at the combine and is a realistic option in the late first round."
Pat Kirwan NFL.com thinks the Ravens will opt for a speedier target in Darrius Heyward-Bey. The former track star showed his wheels at the Combine when he led all wideouts and running backs with a 4.30 time in the 40.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland –"The Ravens resolved their cornerback issue by signing Domonique Foxworth, so now they can turn their attention to the wide receiver position. Heyward-Bey was the fastest player at the combine and Joe Flacco has the arm to get the ball to him."
Meanwhile, NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang guesses Baltimore will add playmaking Florida Gator Percy Harvin. Harvin has some injury issues, but he is in the mold of a Reggie Bush-type of athlete that can do damage when he gets the ball in space.
*Percy Harvin, WR, Florida – "Capable of making a Chris Johnson-like impact on offense and special teams, Harvin would seemingly be a perfect fit for the big-play-needy Ravens. Harvin, who drops to this point only because of durability concerns, would give young QB Joe Flacco the speed threat he needs to take advantage of his deep throwing prowess."*
Finally, there are still those that think the Ravens will opt for a cornerback, even after they signed Domonique Foxworth to a three-year contract.
Lou Pickney of DraftKing.com predicts Vontae Davis of Illinois lands at No.26.
By many accounts, Davis is rated as the second-best corner in the draft.
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – "The Ravens cut longtime CB Chris McAlister earlier this month, and a logical progression for the Ravens would be to bring in a young player like Davis who, in time, could develop into a great pro cornerback. At 6'0" 205 Davis has average height for the position, but it's his speed and knack for breaking up passing plays that makes him look so good as a pro prospect."
While these are only a few of the multiple mock drafts that can be found on the Web, they offer a good representation of what the experts are saying about the Ravens. Check back to the Mock Draft Monitor for more updates before the April 25-26 draft.