If you’ve seen any of the mock drafts that have been kicked around the past couple months, you’ve noticed a vast majority of them have the Ravens taking a cornerback or a wide receiver in the first round.
While both of those positions are areas of need for Ozzie Newsome, I feel like a more likely scenario has the Ravens’ GM looking at an offensive or defensive lineman with his first selection.
The cornerbacks that would be available when the Ravens are on the clock with the No. 26 overall pick all have question marks dangling over their helmets, and while there are two big-time NFL wide receivers in this draft in A.J. Green and Julio Jones, they’re both projected as top-10 picks. Outside of those two, there isn’t a clear-cut third wideout worthy of being a first-round selection.
The Ravens could still add a talented corner or a second-tier receiver on Day Two of the draft, but with that 26th pick, they might have a high-quality talent at either offensive tackle or defensive end fall into their lap. This is a deep draft at those positions, both of which the Ravens are looking to bolster.
Trust me when I say that the Ravens would love to have another young, athletic tackle to line up opposite Michael Oher and help protect Joe Flacco. Even if Jared Gaither does return next season, who knows what the Ravens will get out of him? And yes, I’m talking both health-wise and effort-wise.
We’ve also discussed how the coaches want to move Marshal Yanda back to right guard. The Ravens could use another sturdy, physical player at the tackle spot, and might have a couple real impressive ones to choose from.
Guys like Anthony Castonzo (Boston College), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado) and Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State) all are projected as mid- to late first-round picks and could step in right away and provide a big help to an offensive line which struggled last season.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are looking for a pass-rushing complement to linebacker Terrell Suggs, and could be in the market for a defensive end who can get off the ball and be a force off the edge. Cory Redding is under contract for one more year, but he has the ability to move inside and line up at defensive tackle from time to time, and can share reps outside.
There are a handful of guys that fit the bill there, as well; Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson, Cal’s Cameron Jordan and Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward are all names to watch.
Teams often use positional depth to help determine their draft strategy. If you need a tight end, but feel there isn’t a high-level one when you’re on the clock in rounds one or two, you might address other positions early, and grab a tight end when there’s better value later in the draft.
The Ravens might use that mantra later this month. They could look to play off areas where there’s a lot of depth at need positions early in the draft, and then pick up better value at spots like wide receiver or cornerback a round or two later on.