Baltimore Ravens Mock Draft: The 8 Players They Will (or Should) Pick
A mere six days separates us from the NFL Draft, and the anticipation is growing.
Almost all of the necessary information is available to form judgments on the players, and teams have their big boards set.
This means that mock drafts are finally being based on real facts and rumors, rather than just speculation.
So with this in mind, here is a realistic mock draft for the Baltimore Ravens, complete with videos showcasing each prospect's unique skill set.
First Round, Pick 29: Dont'a Hightower, LB Alabama
The Ravens won't get too fancy with this pick, though to select Dont'a Hightower they might have to trade up.
They are clearly enamored with Hightower, though, and they will be more than willing to trade up for him.
Is Hightower really worth the investment that the Ravens will have to make?
Though he's a solid football player, his upside is limited. At 1:16 in the video, for instance, Hightower gets completely washed out of the play. Then at 1:30, he completely whiffs in pass coverage.
His coverage really is a major liability, as he consistently gets beaten by Arkansas's running backs.
Against the run, Hightower is much more solid. While he can get beaten badly by more powerful offensive linemen, he generally has the size and strength to hold up well. His instincts are very solid in run support as well, as his big stuff at 3:26 shows.
While Hightower should be a decent linebacker, he will be relegated to being a two-down linebacker unless he develops as a pass-rusher. He is simply too much of a liability in coverage to become an elite linebacker.
Essentially, Hightower is not an ideal first-round prospect, but the Ravens interest is not a smokescreen. Of the prospects that they've had for pre-draft visits, Hightower makes the most sense at this point, so despite my reservations, that's probably the direction they will go.
Second Round, Pick 60: Brandon Brooks, OG Miami of Ohio
The Ravens' look to be putting a lot of emphasis on their front seven in this year's draft, and Brandon Brooks will fit that draft philosophy nicely in the second round.
Unfortunately, the Ravens left themselves few options at the left guard position. Jah Reid might take the job, but that is hardly a comforting thought.
At the very least, the Ravens have to bring in a guard to compete with Reid. Peter Konz is an option in the first round, but Hightower seems a more likely option at this point.
Brandon Brooks is a decent value in the second round who could step in and possibly start as a rookie. He is a huge prospect with great athleticism, so his upside should entice a team to take him in the second round.
Unfortunately, there aren't any videos of Brooks's game film readily available, but at his pro day he showed some good power that the poor bag-holder was unable to handle.
The Ravens have taken a liking to extra large players lately, drafting Terrence Cody and signing Bryant McKinnie in recent years. This trend would continue with the selection of Brooks.
Third Round, Pick 91: A.J. Jenkins, WR Illinois
With the Ravens filling two of their biggest holes in the first and second round, they can focus on adding a little explosion to the offense with A.J. Jenkins.
Initially a prospect with little hype, Jenkins is starting to generate a nice and well deserved following.
On tape, he's clearly very fast, which was verified with his 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. At the 44 second mark in his tape, watch as he out-speeds the coverage on a simple drag route. With the rub knocking the defender off just a hair, Jenkins had the explosion to take advantage and speed to the end zone.
More impressive, though, is his ability to find the soft spots in coverage. At the 55 second mark, Jenkins is able to find a soft spot in the coverage and exploit it for a nice gain. He has a great knack for adjusting to the coverage and getting open.
Finally, worth noting is how solid his hands are. He makes numerous impressive catches in the video, even when hit.
Jenkins and Torrey Smith are similar players, and their speed would definitely cause matchup problems for opposing defenses. This would offer Anquan Boldin more room underneath, and would really add a new dimension to the Ravens offense.
Fourth Round, Pick 130: Ben Jones, C Georgia
Despite drafting Brandon Brooks in the second round, the Ravens could still use help along the offensive line.
Luckily, Ben Jones should be available in the fourth round, and he's an underrated center who compares favorably to probable first-round pick Peter Konz.
Jones has solid power and a good base, as shown at the :08 second mark in the video. He consistently sets a solid anchor, and his power and burst are extremely impressive.
Unfortunately, Jones is a somewhat limited athlete, with marginal lateral agility. He also has a tendency to drop his head, which can result in some whiffed blocks, as shown at 1:25.
All these problems are coachable, though, and if the Ravens do draft Jones, he will likely be their center of the future. His power and explosion are exciting, and with some seasoning, he could develop into a steal.
Fifth Round, Pick 164: Brandon Hardin, S Oregon State
Another major need for the Ravens is at safety, and if the Ravens are fortunate enough to have Brandon Hardin fall to them in the fifth round, they will be thrilled to scoop him up.
Hardin is a pure athlete at the safety or cornerback position, but he also has good technique and intangibles as well.
Sadly, Hardin missed his senior season with injury, but his pure combination of size, speed and athleticism will be enough to help him on draft day.
Standing at 6'2" and running around a 4.4 40-yard dash, Hardin is one of the best athletes in the draft, and as shown in his pro day video, his feet are incredibly quick as well.
After an impressive performance at the East-West Shrine game, Hardin put himself on the radar of pro scouts, and the Ravens would be thrilled to get a potential successor to Ed Reed at this point in the draft.
Fifth Round, Pick 169: Nelson Rosario, WR UCLA
For the second consecutive year, the Ravens could double dip at wide receiver, as Nelson Rosario is a good enough prospect to be well worth a fifth-round pick.
With tremendous size and hands, Rosario would be a nice addition to a Ravens receiving corps in desperate need of size.
He runs solid routes and has very good open field ability, which helps his stock significantly. Perhaps most impressive are his hands, which measure in at 10 1/4". These huge mitts help him to catch almost anything that comes his way.
Rosario wouldn't be guaranteed a roster spot, but he would certainly compete with Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams for a spot in the Ravens receiving corps, and he has the talent to come out of that battle favorably.
Sixth Round, Pick 198: Miles Burris, LB San Diego State
After double dipping at receiver, the Ravens double dip at linebacker here with the selection of Miles Burris.
Burris is one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. He possesses elite athleticism and strength, with a bench press of 31 reps and a 40-yard dash of around 4.6 seconds.
Measurables aside, Burris simply plays like a Raven. He flies around the field with reckless abandon, but he has impressive mechanics in coverage and as a pass-rusher.
At the very least, Burris could immediately step in as an elite special teams player, and he should play his way onto the defense as well, either as an inside or outside linebacker.
Seven Round, Pick 236: Tony Jerod-Eddie, DE Texas A&M
At this point, the Ravens would have filled all their needs with high-value picks, so this pick is really a wildcard.
The best value could end up being defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie, a sleeper who has been a solid starter at Texas A&M.
His power is evident in the video, but he also is a quality pass-rusher as well. His long arms are beneficial in holding off offensive tackles, and that has made him a quality run defender.
The Ravens could use some depth along the defensive line, and Jerod-Eddie's power and versatility would make him a quality selection this late in the draft. He could contribute early in running situations.