2013 NFL Draft: 5 Prospects the Ravens Must Consider
The Ravens had a potentially incredible 2012 NFL draft, but the NFL is ever-changing, and new needs sprout up for teams every year as contracts expire and players retire.
With that being the case, let's take an early look at who some of the top prospects could be for the Ravens in the 2013 NFL draft.
5. Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB (Florida State)
In any 3-4 system, you need linebackers—and lots of them.
The Ravens drafted Courtney Upshaw because he was the highest rated player on the board when they picked, and he offered some depth and versatility to their defense.
There's no guarantee that Terrell Suggs can continue being Terrell Suggs after he comes back from a serious achilles injury, and Sergio Kindle is getting his last chance to prove something as a Raven.
There's a good chance that the Ravens may opt to bring in yet another hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker to bolster the pass rush in 2013.
Jenkins is regarded as a late first-round pick at this point and could remain that way if he can continue to be productive next season.
4. C.J. Mosley, ILB (Alabama)
Many analysts projected the Ravens to take Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower in the 2012 NFL draft. Hightower could potentially become the "heir apparent" to Ray Lewis. However, the Patriots traded up to snag Hightower before the Ravens could, so we'll never know if Hightower would have been the pick over outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
After Terrell Suggs' injury, Baltimore should now be even more content with their first pick in the draft, but inside linebacker should be an area of need in 2013.
For one thing, Ray Lewis will be 38 heading into the 2013 season. Jameel McClain continues to improve and will continue as a starter, but the Ravens don't have much behind him.
Brendon Ayanbadejo is also nearing the end of his career, and Dannell Ellerbe may not be a complete enough player to be considered for a starting role.
Mosley is the top inside linebacker prospect for next season, aside from Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. He's very athletic, has plenty of strength and is familiar with the 3-4 system.
If the Ravens are picking near the end of the first round again, C.J. Mosley could certainly be on the radar.
3. Eric Reid, S (LSU)
Baltimore should definitely be excited about fourth-round draft pick Christian Thompson as Ed Reed's future replacement at safety.
However, Thompson may be a bit of a project and may not be ready for a starting role by 2013.
Eric Reid is one of the biggest leaders in LSU's star-studded secondary, and even though he doesn't have a flashy nickname like the "Honeybadger," he should be a first-round draft pick next season.
Ed Reed can't be counted on to return in 2013, and even if he does come back for yet another season, the Ravens should think before passing on another Reid player to be his replacement.
LSU's Reid and Christian Thompson could be a fantastic safety duo in an already talented Ravens' secondary one day.
2. Oday Aboushi, OT (Virginia)
It's relatively safe to say that Michael Oher is not the left tackle of the future for the Ravens.
Bryant McKinnie should be serviceable at the position once again; however, he can't be counted on for much longer.
The Ravens addressed some interior line positions in the 2012 draft, but will need to start thinking about the future at both tackle positions.
If Michael Oher demands a big contract when his rookie deal is up, the Ravens will probably let him walk. Jah Reid could be the future starter at right tackle, but Baltimore doesn't have anyone waiting in the wings at left tackle.
Aboushi needs another strong campaign next season, but definitely has the potential to be a first-round pick and future starting NFL left tackle.
1. Manti Te'o, ILB (Notre Dame)
Will 2013 finally be the year that the Ravens draft a legitimate inside linebacker to replace Ray Lewis?
One thing is for sure, time is undefeated.
Manti Te'o was regarded as a first-round pick before declining to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, and with another productive season, he should shoot even further up the draft boards.
Linebackers fall further than they should every year; so if the Ravens are picking late in the first round again, Te'o has a chance to fall to them.