2012 NFL Draft: 6 Prospects Baltimore Ravens Must Pursue
The Ravens have a variety of needs that need to be filled. Baltimore will try to fill many of those in free agency so that it may stick to the philosophy of drafting the best player available. The Ravens hold pick No. 29 in the first round and they are missing a pick in the fourth-round because of the Lee Evans trade.
As of now, the Baltimore Ravens have needs on the offensive line, wide receiver, inside and outside linebacker and special teams. They also have depth issues at safety and running back.
Here are some players that should be on the Ravens' radar in the upcoming draft.
Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Dont'a Hightower is a big physical linebacker who would fit well in the Ravens' 3-4 defense, particularly if Jameel McClain chooses to leave the Baltimore in free agency. There were questions about his speed, but Hightower produced a respectable 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, especially when you factor in his size.
Although he lacks the ability to go sideline-to-sideline like Ray Lewis once had, his leadership and work ethic would go far in replacing Lewis in the future.
Chandler Jones, DE Syracuse
The Baltimore Ravens need to bolster their pass rush, so why not keep it in the family? Most Ravens fans are familiar with Arthur Jones, but maybe they should be more familiar with his younger brother Chandler Jones.
Jones has great size, he is listed at 6'5" and 266lbs. Chandler Jones finished the combine with an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.78 seconds and a vertical leap of 35 inches. Jones could line up next to his brother with his hand in the dirt or drop back as an outside linebacker when switching to a 3-4 alignment.
Giving Terrell Suggs some help has been mentioned by Ozzie Newsome as a priority.
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
With the Washington Redskins buying up all of the free agent receivers available, the Ravens will have to address the wide receiver position in the draft. Many experts list Rueben Randle of LSU ahead of Stephen Hill in mock drafts and big boards. But Hill is two inches taller than Randle at 6'5" and is much faster. Hill wowed everyone with a blazing 4.30 40-yard dash time.
Thomas comes from the Georgia Tech triple-option offense, where they run the ball more than 80 percent of the time. Despite those limitations, Hill turned 28 catches into 820 yards and five touchdowns, which is good for an amazing 29.3 yards per catch.
Stephen Hill may be one of the best playmakers in the draft and will try to follow in the footsteps of former Georgia Tech stars Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. Torrey Smith and Stephen Hill lining up on the outside with Anquan Boldin in the slot could give defenses fits.
David Molk, Center, Michigan
This is a Chris Berman moment..."So you're all on Peter Konz?" There are countless mock drafts that have the Ravens drafting Peter Konz with their first-round pick. Konz is listed as the best center on most draft boards, but do they really to use their first pick in the draft on a center who bench presses what a lot of defensive backs can?
Of course bench presses are not everything, but drafting Konz in the first round is questionable. There is a need for the Ravens to draft the heir-apparent to Matt Birk. But why not use the first-round pick on one of the best offensive tackles, pass-rushers or wide receivers? And wait till possibly the third round to draft Michigan's David Molk?
The self-proclaimed "best center in the draft" benched 225lbs an outstanding 41 times, the best bench press in the entire combine by six repetitions. Molk is more than just a gym rat. The Michigan product won the 2011 Rimington Trophy for the NCAA's best center (beating out rival Peter Konz).
With Birk putting off retirement for at least one more season, Molk does not have to start right away. He can learn under the veteran Birk and also provide depth for the offensive line.
Zebrie Sanders, OL, Florida State University
Unless the Ravens take part in the Eric Winston sweepstakes, Bryant McKinney is the Baltimore Ravens starting left tackle. McKinney is not the long-term answer and the Ravens need to find a young franchise tackle to start opposite of Michael Oher.
One name they should consider is Zebrie Sanders from Florida State. Sanders has the size and athletic ability to be a solid NFL starter. Having played at Florida State, Sanders is familiar with the zone-blocking scheme, a scheme the Ravens run. Sanders could go as early as the first round or some time in the second round.
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
Unless it is addressed in free agency, the Ravens need a true return man. Arkansas Joe Adams was one of the best return men in college football. In 62 punt returns, Adams compiled 570 yards and five touchdowns.
Although Adams lacks ideal size, he could provide depth to the receiver corps as well. As a receiver, Adams pulled in 164 receptions, 2,410 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 40 time was a slower than expected 4.55. But his football skills, namely his elusiveness, could make him a late-round steal.