2012 Ravens Draft Needs: 5 Players to Watch for at Pick 29
As we move past the combine and begin to focus on pro days and free agency, the 2012 NFL Draft picture is beginning to look a bit clearer. There were certainly some prospects who boosted their stock and some who did quite the opposite, so let’s take a realistic look at who the Ravens could be looking to snag at pick 29 this year.
5. Stephen Hill WR (Georgia Tech)
A virtual no-name before the combine, Hill may have had the most impressive performance of anyone after Haloti Ngata-like lineman Dontari Poe.
With a blazing 4.36 forty and a freakish 6’4” 215 pound frame, Hill is comparable to former Georgia Tech wide out Demaryius Thomas, who is currently with the Broncos. Like Thomas, Hill was underutilized in the Georgia Tech offense, and is raw and a bit of a project.
Hill offers tremendous upsides however, and with the right coaching and in the right system could end up being a prolific NFL receiver one day, something the Ravens have never really had.
With all the question marks on Hill, it’s hard to predict where he will end up. He could go anywhere from the middle of round one to late round two. One thing is for sure, the Ravens would be foolish to not take a long and hard look at him should he be around when they pick.
4. Kendall Wright WR (Baylor)
A product of Baylor’s dynamic spread offense, Wright’s 4.61 40-yard dash time at the combine does not reflect his football speed.
He’ll have another shot at the 40 on his pro day, but if it’s a similar time he may slip to the Ravens in the late first round.
The Ravens already have their home run, deep ball threat in Torrey Smith, but adding Wright on the outside opposite Smith would allow Anquan Boldin to move back to his more natural position in the slot.
If Chicago, Cincinnati at 21, Cleveland at 22, and New England at 27 go in a different direction or are concerned about his timed speed, the Ravens could look to at another wideout for Joe Flacco early.
3. Kelechi Osemele OL (Iowa State)
A naturally athletic but raw player, Osemele will need solid coaching once he gets to the NFL.
A powerful run-blocker, Osemele could be very intriguing to the offensive line-ambiguous Ravens. He played some tackle in college, but probably projects best as a guard at the NFL level.
Osemele should be available for the Ravens at 29, but if higher-graded prospects are available, they will probably pass on this somewhat of a project lineman.
2. Peter Konz C (Wisconin)
Konz is definitely the top center on everyone’s board this year, and will likely be the only one to be selected in the first round.
His versatility to play either center or guard could be very appealing to the Ravens who have question marks at both positions.
With Ray Rice getting the franchise tag, it is pretty clear that Benn Grubbs will not be back next season. Matt Birk has expressed that he would like to return, but whether or not the Ravens can work out a deal with him remains to be seen. Then you have Andre Gurode as a free agent and the possibility of Jah Reid moving to guard and there are a ton of factors that will influence this pick.
That being said, Konz would be a nice addition either way should he be available at 29, whether he’s a day-one starter at center or guard, or he simply offers some depth as he is groomed to become Matt Birk’s eventual replacement.
1. Don’t’a Hightower ILB (Alabama)
An imposing linebacker that is an ideal fit in a 3-4 defense; Hightower would be an ideal eventual replacement for Ray Lewis. Depending on what happens with unrestricted free agent Jameel McClain, the Alabama product could even find himself in a starting role on day one.
He has now established himself as the clear-cut top inside linebacker pick after Boston College’s Luke Kuechly who shined at the combine. Part of this can be attributed to Arizona State’s Vontaze Burflict, who completely self-destructed in Indy last week. Burflict caused a lot of concern in most of his interviews and ran a 5.09 40, which shows his lack of preparation and dedication more than anything.
Cross your fingers when the Steelers and Broncos pick at 24 and 25, as they look to be the biggest threats to steal Hightower before the Ravens can.