The draft is fast approaching. In fact, in just 12 days, NFL GM’s will line up and make their selections. The Ravens have some flexibility in this year’s draft. They could draft a wide receiver, tight end, center, right tackle, linebacker and center in this year’s draft. The draft is a very hectic situation, to say the least. GM’s are tearing their hair out to figure out who is the most ideal option for their football team. The Ravens may have the most confusing position in the draft. A team like the Lions would benefit from just about anything, while a pretty good team like the Eagles would benefit from an offensive tackle, running back or tight end. The Ravens, on the other hand, aren’t dying for any one position.
A receiver would be nice, but they proved last year they can succeed without a clear cut No. 1 guy. A tight end would also be convenient, but they have some depth, with Todd Heap, L.J. Smith, Quinn Sypniewski and Edgar Jones. A center would be interesting, but it’s not something the Ravens need to address right now, as Matt Birk is a solid vet. A linebacker would be good to have, but obviously, the Ravens have a great linebacking core, with Ray Lewis, Jarrett Johnson and Terrell Suggs and replacing Ray in three years or so could be addressed then. A right tackle would be a good thing to add, but the class isn’t as deep at that position as the Ravens might like. So you see, the Ravens have a confusing draft position, but that’s a good thing, because they don’t have one need they are dying to have and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how Ozzie Newsome handles it. Here’s how I would handle it:
1 (26): Trade pick to the St. Louis Rams for the 34th overall pick. This might sound crazy, but the Ravens have a confusing position in the first round. Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks would be available, but are both considered stretches and it’s my personal opinion that Darrius Heyward-Bey will be a Jet, Percy Harvin will be a Bucaneer, Michael Crabtree will be a Raider and Jeremy Maclin will be a Bear. So, to be honest, there is no first round talent at receiver after that. So I think the Ravens should trade their No. 26 overall pick to the St. Louis Rams to get the second overall pick of the second round.
2 (35) – Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers: At this point, I think the Ravens will be fighting themselves: Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt? Personally, I’d take Britt. Nicks is a playmaker, but has gained 15 pounds since the Scouting Combine, and the last guy to do that was Mike Williams, and we saw how that turned out. Britt is taller, and is more of a deep threat. Also, while Nicks had some playmaking receivers around him for UNC who are entering the NFL Draft (Kenny Tate, Brooks Foster), Britt carried the offense by himself. The offense was stung by the loss of current Raven halfback Ray Rice, and Britt stepped up big time. While Britt had 87 catches and 1,371 yards, the runner up receiver had just over 500 yards, so Britt can carry an offense. He’d be the best option and he’d be a solid second round pick. Some scouts call him better than most first round receivers. I’d settle for that.
2 (57) – Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina: In my opinion, the main reason the Baltimore Ravens have been mostly bad producing offensive firepower is bad offensive coaching staff. Now, the Ravens have that. Cam Cameron and Hue Jackson played huge roles in the development of Joe Flacco, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice. That’s the main reason I have confidence the team will finally find a big play wide receiver in this year’s draft. Cameron played a huge role in developing a great tight end when he was the offensive coordinator of a great Chargers offense – Antonio Gates. Cook would be a fantastic selection. He screams Antonio Gates clone, in my mind. He has prototypical size (6’5″, 246) and like Gates, is unusually athletic for his position. I’d love Cook and Cameron could develop him into a Gates.
3 (88) – Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia: This is a guy I expect to fall. His durability issues make me think he’ll fall all the way to the late third round – into the Ravens hands. Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs have been great pass rushers for the Ravens, but no one else has consistently compiled eight to twelve sacks per season for the Ravens. Sintim would be that guy. His production sack-wise improved every year he was at Virginia, including in 2008, when he totaled 69 tackles and ten sacks. With the Ravens having some uncertainty at linebacker, knowing that the man to replace Bart Scott is unknown, Sintim would be ideal. He’s a great pass rushing outside linebacker, and I wouldn’t mind using him on one of our second round picks. After all, he’s the fourth rated outside linebacker.
4 (123) – T.J. Lang, OT, Eastern Michigan: The Ravens are looking for youth on the offensive line. Matt Birk and Willie Anderson are both solid vets, but clearly are not the future on the Ravens line. T.J. Lang would be perfect. He provides versatility, as he can play center, right tackle, guard and possibly left tackle, as well. He projects as a right tackle, and when Anderson leaves, which could be very soon, Lang would take over. He’s a big guy (6’4″, 316), is an extremely underrated prospect and is tough, physical and aggressive – something that fits the Ravens mold perfectly. In Lang, they could find their future right tackle, center or guard.
5 (162) – Gregory Toler, CB, St. Paul’s: Now, I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing the Ravens should address their supposed “need” at cornerback. I am sick of hearing it, as the Ravens have signed free agent Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr, so cornerback is all but set for next year. However, I am not at ease with the fact that Frank Walker and Samari Rolle will step in should Fabian Washington or Foxworth get hurt. The Ravens should go small school and draft Greg Toler, the cornerback out of St. Paul’s. He’s very fast, and while some project him as a seventh round pick, he has starters talent, and I think the Ravens should grab him in the fifth round. He may not be a starter with the Ravens ever, but he’d be a solid nickel back.
6 (198) – Graham Gano, K, Florida State: While Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome hasn’t ruled out bringing back fan favorite kicker Matt Stover, it doesn’t look as if the 41-year old placekicker will have a job in the NFL next year. The Ravens have always been very good at moving on from losses, and Stover should be no different. Graham Gano, a Florida State kicker, has incredible range and accuracy, and it showed when he hit 60 yarders in the College Football Challenge and went 24-of-26 in field goals during the regular season. With no real stiff competition, only Steven Hauschka, Gano could start next year. In my mind, he projects like another special teams steal, like Sam Koch.