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Ravens Could Draft More Than One Cornerback Early

The Ravens haven't drafted a cornerback in the first three rounds since 2011, dating back to when they made Jimmy Smith their first-round pick.

Smith has become one of the league's best cornerbacks when healthy, but the Ravens have unfortunately seen what happens to their secondary when Smith is out, which has been too often.

So, is it time to break the five-year streak and draft a cornerback sometime in the draft's first two days?

"Well, we hope so," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said at the Senior Bowl. "We're not going to be pigeonholed into taking a corner, but hopefully we'll have a chance to take a very talented corner as early as possible."

Even before last week's trip to Mobile, Ala., this year's cornerbacks class has been lauded as especially strong. ESPN's Todd McShay got an up-close look at some top prospects at the Senior Bowl, and said the class is "probably better than I expected."

Some of the top cornerbacks are Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore, Florida's Teez Tabor, Florida's Quincy Wilson, Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, Washington's Sidney Jones and LSU's Tre'Davious White.

The Ravens certainly aren't the only team looking for a cornerback. In the pass-heavy NFL, teams often feel like they can't have too much talent at the position.

That's why, as DeCosta said, it can be difficult to snare top talent because "those guys fly off the draft board." For example, the Ravens were keeping their eye on Marcus Peters in 2015 before he was snatched up eight picks earlier, and higher than expected, by the Kansas City Chiefs. Peters has since been voted to back-to-back Pro Bowls.

The Ravens drafted Tavon Young early in the fourth round last year, and he proved to be an excellent pick who started 11 games. However, the Ravens' work isn't done. They would ideally like to add another outside cornerback opposite Smith and improve overall depth.

"We still feel like we've got to augment that position," DeCosta said. "We know they're going to go quickly. We think we're in position in the first round and second round to possibly land a corner – possibly two corners if it falls that way."

The Ravens haven't drafted players at the same position with back-to-back picks since 2010 at tight end when they grabbed Ed Dickson in the third round and Dennis Pitta in the fourth.

As farfetched as two cornerbacks at the top of the draft may sound, it could be a possibility based on how the early draft boards are stacking up. Granted, it's still very early in the process.

"It's a pretty strong class and it's a deep class," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. "Every year you have four or so go in the first round and that's not going to change this year. But I think you'll see talented players fall to the second that will be available and start and contribute for a lot of teams.

"There will probably be a couple we're considering when we're picking in the first round. Whether they're the best player available is another story. But there's going to be guys in that range at 16 that we will consider. And there will be guys in the second round and third round."

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