Now that free agency is in full stride, and some major moves have already been made on day one, it is time to preview what the future may have in store for the Baltimore Ravens.
The first day of free agency saw Baltimore losing two key players, LB Bart Scott and C Jason Brown. Linebacker Ray Lewis is expected to return. The Ravens also signed CB Domonique Foxworth to replace CB Chris McAlister, who Baltimore released earlier in the week.
Following is a round-by-round analysis of the players the Ravens will likely target with each selection.
Alphonso Smith, CB
The signing of Foxworth addressed one of Baltimore's biggest priorities, which was to add a proven starter to play alongside Fabian Washington.
However, with Samari Rolle aging and reportedly on his way out, the Ravens are not out of the fire yet. Rolle's expected departure will create serious depth problems at the CB position.
With Frank Walker currently the only other CB under contract, Baltimore needs to add more talent here.
CB Alphonso Smith would be an excellent selection with the 26th overall pick. Baltimore loves playmakers, and no other CB in the class possesses Smith's ball-hawking ability.
Drafting Smith now would also allow Baltimore to bring him along slowly, as the team's nickelback, rather than thrust him directly into a starting role.
Comparable NFL Player: Rhonde Barber
WR Kenny Britt
The Ravens passing attack has long been non-existent, and with WR's Derrick Mason turning 35 and Mark Clayton being labeled a bust by many fans, Baltimore will look for weapons for standout, rookie QB Joe Flacco to work with.
WR Kenny Britt has first-round talent, and has the size, at 6'4'', and hands to give Baltimore the red-zone threat that is sorely needed in Charm City. Britt posted a strong showing at the combine, and is projected to be a mid, or possibly late, second-round prospect.
Scouts only question whether he has enough of a second gear to beat cornerbacks deep, to become a true vertical threat. Baltimore will most likely overlook that to add Britt's upside to the roster.
Comparable NFL Player: Marques Colston
C Antoine Caldwell
The departure of C Jason Brown was a tremendous blow to Baltimore's up-and-coming offensive line.
With Chris Chester not performing well during previous stints at this position, and the returning Marshall Yanda likely taking over either OG or OT duties, Caldwell makes a lot of sense here at pick No. 88 overall.
Although Caldwell is better suited for a zone-blocking scheme, rather than Baltimore's power-running game, Caldwell is too talented to pass at this spot. His intelligence and agility will pay big dividends on the NFL level.
Comparable NFL Player: Matt Birk
With the first day of the draft over, the Ravens filled their most pressing needs with the selections of Smith, Britt and Caldwell.
However, the loss of Bart Scott and the off-season drama surrounding Ray Lewis' free agency status made many in Baltimore realize that the time is now to bring in fresh talent at the linebacker position.
In addition to linebacker, Baltimore is also thin at defensive end. Fortunately, this year's draft class is deep in defensive talent, and the Ravens have a history of finding gems on day two of the draft.
Let's take a look at how the remainder of the draft could unfold...
Philip Hunt, DE
The Ravens would also likely give MLB Scott McKillop and WR Ramses Barden some serious consideration here at this spot, but Hunt would be the safer, more polished pick.
At 6'2", 260 lbs., Hunt is slightly undersized at DE. But following the "Best Player Available" strategy, this should be the Ravens first pick of day two if he is still on the board.
Outstanding speed and the instinctive ability to run down opposing RB's made Hunt one of the most productive defensive ends in the nation last year (8.5 TFL and 14 sacks).
Hunt would in all probability need a little time to adjust to the speed of the NFL's top offensive tackles, but could pay off immediately by instantly upgrading Baltimore's pass rush. First day talent, but will likely fall under most team's radars.
Comparable NFL player: Adewale Ogunleye
Marko Mitchell, WR
After passing on Barden in the previous round, and no linebackers in particular standing out at this spot, Baltimore takes a shot at one of the dark horses at WR, Marko Mitchell.
Standing at 6'4", 218 lbs. with a 4.46 showing in the forty yard dash at the Combine, Mitchell has potential to be a vertical threat as well as a red zone option.
Mitchell posted stout numbers in his senior year with Nevada (57 catches, 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns), and helped his stock with an excellent showing at the Combine. Although still a bit raw, he could eventually develop into a solid #2 WR for nearly any NFL team.
Comparable NFL player: Reggie Williams
Frantz Joseph, ILB
The need for depth at MLB and Joseph's high ceiling makes this a potential steal for Baltimore in Round 6.
A highly productive, tackling machine, Joseph holds the single season FAU record for tackles. Only his average performance at the Combine keeps his stock down, and out of day one's bidding.
Comparable NFL player: Mike Vrabel
Brice McCain, CB
With the return game struggling last year, and the need for more depth at cornerback, McCain would be a solid choice for Baltimore, if he lasts to this spot.
One of the fastest DB's in the class, McCain's 4.36 40- may get him drafted earlier in the round. Probably will never develop into more than a special teams player, but a team like Baltimore who stresses ST performance would be able to use McCain's speed and kick returning skills
Comparable NFL player: Allen Rossum
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