*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:
Now that the Ravens have officially shored up the cornerback position with the free agent signings of Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr, it seems that most draft analysts consider general manager Ozzie Newsome to opt for a wideout.
Picking at No. 26, two receivers look like they will be available for the Ravens if they stay there - Maryland's Darrius Hayward-Bey and Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina.
Pat Kirwan of NFL.com predicts the Ravens will take Heyward-Bey, who had a private workout with Baltimore coaches and scouts last week.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Maryland–"Joe Flacco has a big arm and no deep-speed targets. Heyward-Bey runs a 4.3 and is big. He opens up the whole passing attack for the Ravens."
Fellow NFL.com writer Steve Wyche also picks Heyward-Bey for the Ravens.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland – "The free-agent acquisition of C Matt Birk filled their void at center, so now the Ravens go for speed. They could very well take Connecticut CB Darius Butler after releasing veteran Samari Rolle. Hayward-Bey is still relatively raw, but he can fly, and if he shows any consistency, he could be a nice pick."
Don Banks from SportsIllustrated.com thinks Nicks is going to be the choice.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina– "With the Ravens signing Domonique Foxworth in free agency as the potential replacement forChris McAlister, they can turn their first-round attention to finding receiver Derrick Mason's eventual replacement. Nicks doesn't have the speed of the other first-round receivers, but he's got a polished, NFL-ready game."
The rest of the picks shift to the defensive side of the ball, with the first two picks going to the same cornerback. Todd McShay from ESPN.com and Lou Pickney from DraftKing.com agree that the Ravens should go with Vontae Davis at the cornerback position.
McShay on Davis:
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois – "Davis hasn't won over many scouts with his footwork or his attention to detail. Still, he's a talented cover corner with playmaking instincts. The Ravens certainly could use his services, should he slip this far."
Pickney on Davis:
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois– "The Ravens cut longtime CB Chris McAlister earlier this off-season, 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."
Another popular position for the Ravens in the projected picks is linebacker. Mel Kiper, another draft expert from ESPN.com, has the Ravens going with a USC product.
Rey Maualuga, LB, USC– "Maualuga is capable of becoming a quality 'Mike' linebacker in the NFL but needs to use his hands better to ward off blocks and must be more consistent from week to week."
Two more NFL.com writers have the same opinions on not only position, but also player, for their Ravens pick in the mock drafts. James Laurinaitis could provide key depth at inside linebacker, where Tavares Gooden will step into a starting role after Bart Scott signed with the New York Jets in February.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State– "Linebacker help is needed in Baltimore, and the Ohio State star is productive."
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State– "Speed issues have dropped a top-10 football player into the bottom of the first round."
Michael Lombardi has a different defensive idea for the Ravens. He believes Newsome will select Evander "Ziggy" Hood from Missouri, a 300-pound defensive tackle that is rising up some draft rankings.
Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri – "A young, athletic defensive lineman."