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Ravens Assess 2013 Draft Class


The Ravens picked a good year to be drafting at the end of the first round.

This year's class is high on depth, and there doesn't seem to be much of a difference in the talent level between picks slotted for the middle and end of the first round.

"The quality of players between [picks] 15 and 45 is excellent," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said Tuesday at the pre-draft press conference. "I think there are players in every round that we like, slotted very well."

The 2013 draft class lacks some of the luster of recent classes, where prized quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton have dominated the conversation. This year, there is not much of a consensus about who will be the No. 1 overall pick, and even more varied opinion about how the top five will shake out.

But what the draft lacks in the clear elite talent, it compensates for in overall depth in the later rounds.

"I think numbers-wise, we see an extra round, basically, and about 32 or 35 extra players that we think are draftable players in this draft," DeCosta said. "So the pool of players is greater."

The draft fits well with what the Ravens need, especially in a year where Baltimore has 12 draft picks.

DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz both pointed to the offensive and defensive lines as strong areas in this year's class. That's good news for the Ravens, who are potentially looking to add a couple offense linemen, and also additional depth on the defensive line.

"Up front on the defensive and offensive lines, we see a lot of really good players," DeCosta said. "The idea of winning in the trenches always appeals to us, having a good offensive and defensive line, and then being strong through the middle on both sides of the ball is really important as well."

Overall, the draft appears to be loaded with defensive talent, with inside linebacker and safety being particularly strong positions in the first couple of rounds.

"Defensively it's a very, very strong draft," DeCosta said.

Safety is a spot that General Manager Ozzie Newsome pointed to as a position where the Ravens will likely end up adding at least one player. They have a need at the spot now that Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard are gone, and the Ravens have safeties throughout the draft that they like.

"Not to give anything away with the board, but I think all four of us would agree that in all seven of the rounds, there is a safety we could take," Newsome said.

On the offensive side, one position that the Ravens could look to address is at wide receiver. They have to replace Anquan Boldin, and a number of drafkniks have the Ravens drafting a receiver in the first round.

If Baltimore goes a different direction with pick No. 32, they could still get a quality receiver later in the process.

"Really the whole draft, there are guys in each round that can help us," Hortiz said. "There is a really solid core group of [receivers] in the middle rounds that I think will go in the second or third round that will be solid, dependable starters in the NFL."

Coming into the offseason, Newsome pointed to inside linebacker, safety and the interior of the defensive line as areas where he wanted to upgrade. This year's draft presents players who could help in all three of those areas.

"We feel like if there are quality players on the defensive line, at linebacker or at safety, we feel like we still can add more of those players to our team," he said.

And while Newsome stressed that they won't feel forced into drafting a safety or inside linebacker to help out the rebuilt defense, he could ultimately see this year's class being critical in reloading on that side of the ball. 

"They talked about us taking some interior defensive linemen. We could do that. Could we take some inside linebackers? We could do that. Could we take some safeties? We could do that," Newsome said. "We won't pass up a good corner. You don't ever have enough good corners. You don't ever have enough good pass rushers.

"So, could we come away and say out of the 12 picks – if we use all of them – seven or eight could probably be on defense? Yes, but they will be the best players at the time we pick them."

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