The Ravens have made their first draft move to upgrade their offensive line.
They drafted Wisconsin offensive tackle/guard Ricky Wagner in the fifth round, using the 168th-overall pick (compensatory) to take the lineman.
"I waited a little longer than I thought I was today, but good things come when you wait and I can't ask for a better organization than the Ravens right now," Wagner said minutes after getting picked. "I'm just thrilled for this opportunity."
Wagner, 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, was a three-year starter in college and first-team All-Big 10 player in 2012.
He started 27 consecutive games at left tackle for the Badgers, and could compete for the Ravens' open spot on Joe Flacco's blindside. Before taking over Wisconsin's spot at left tackle, Wagner also started 10 games at right tackle, so he has versatility that could benefit the Ravens.
Some draft experts have Wagner as a guard prospect in the NFL, so he could also be in the mix to play at left guard.
"I've played right and left tackle at Wisconsin, so either-or, and I'll even move down to guard if that's what they want," Wagner said. "I haven't [played guard], but if that's what they need I'll definitely have to step up."
The left tackle spot is a question mark for the Ravens, as veteran Bryant McKinnie is currently an unrestricted free agent. General Manger Ozzie Newsome said before the draft that second-year lineman Kelechi Osemele would be the starting left tackle if the season were to open today. That would put Michael Oher at right tackle.
Wagner is a versatile athlete, as he was also a highly sought-after basketball player with multiple Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school. He passed on those opportunities to take a walk-on offer from Wisconsin.
"I definitely had a love for basketball early on, but as I went through high school I thought that I'd have a better future in football and I really fell in love with the game," Wagner said. "Just being offered a walk-on spot was a perfect opportunity, and I always wanted to go there, that was my dream school."
He came to Wisconsin as a tight end, but put on weight his freshmen year and ended up turning into a quality offensive lineman during his five years in the program.
Wisconsin has a reputation of churning out top-flight offensive line prospects, which could help Wagner with the transition to the NFL.
"I'm just a hard worker coming from Wisconsin," Wagner said. "We take a lot of pride in our run game, and we do a lot of power, a lot of zone, so I take a lot of pride in the run game and I think I'm a pretty consistent pass protector as well."