Baltimore Ravens 2013 NFL Draft: Linebackers That Could Replace Ray Lewis
For the past few years, draft pundits have projected inside linebacker prospects to Baltimore in the first round, making claims that they are destined to replace the Raven's legendary linebacker.
Past experiments with mid round and even un-drafted talent haven't paid many dividends for Baltimore, as they have seen players like Tavares Gooden and Dan Cody come and go.
Former un-drafted free agent Dannell Ellerbe will be asked to step up and fill the void for the time being, as will long time special teams stand-out Brendan Ayanbadejo; but in 2013 the Ravens may finally need to draft a legitimate linebacker prospect to either be groomed by Lewis or to take over immediately.
1. Manti Te'o ILB (Notre Dame)
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Weight: 255 pounds
Projection: Top 10
It's not likely that the Ravens will be picking high enough to select Manti Te'o with their first round draft pick in 2013.
It's probably even less likely that General Manager Ozzie Newsome will trade away valuable draft picks in order to get into the top ten or even fifteen to be able to select the Notre Dame product, but we'll mention him here anyway.
Opting to return for his senior season at Notre Dame, the decision has seemed to pay off for Te'o so far as the Irish remain undefeated and he remains a Heisman hopeful.
Not only is Te'o considered the best inside linebacker prospect in this years class, but he's one of the top prospects overall as well.
Te'o doesn't have great sideline to sideline speed but as a big, physical linebacker, he would be an ideal fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker and would likely make an immediate impact for the Ravens and their struggling run defense.
While it is almost certainly that Te'o will not be the successor to Ray Lewis, anything is possible which makes him worth mentioning in this article.
2. Alec Ogletree ILB (Georgia)
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Projection: 1st Round
Georgia's Alec Ogletree is Scout's Inc's number two inside linebacker and number ten player overall, but the Ravens will likely have a shot at him in the first round.
Unless they're the best of the best, insider linebackers tend to fall in the draft every year, and the Ravens have yet to take advantage of that in the first round.
A former safety, who was asked to move to linebacker once he literally outgrew the position, Ogletree posses above average athleticism and is solid in pass coverage.
He is still raw however, and may not even declare for the draft this year. He's also a bit small and doesn't really have the strength to take on blocks as a 3-4 inside linebacker. He may be better suited to roam in a 4-3.
Considering the amount of 4-3 sets that the Ravens will likely implement without Ray Lewis for the rest of the season, I wouldn't completely rule him out.
3. Shayne Skov ILB (Stanford)
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Weight: 250 pounds
Projection: Early Round 2
Shayne Skov already plays in Stanford's 3-4 defense as an inside linebacker and posses the size and ability to continue playing in the scheme at the next level.
A hard hitting, physical and aggressive linebacker, Skov fits what the Baltimore Ravens are looking for at the position and certainly has the potential to "play like a Raven."
He doesn't really need to bulk up much but his frame would support extra weight if need be.
He's not the greatest block shedder but does an excellent job taking them on, one of the main jobs of an inside linebacker in 3-4 sets.
Skov does well against the run and is not a liability in pass coverage. He would be an ideal fit for the Ravens should he be around in Round 2 when they pick.
4. Nico Johnson ILB (Alabama)
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Weight: 245 pounds
Projection: Round 2
Prior to the start of the 2012 college football season, Nico Johnson was projected as a first round pick and expected to fill the role of departed Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower seamlessly.
While he hasn't been as impressive as expected, he still posses the ability to take his skills to the NFL.
Johnson's strength is probably in run defense, where the Ravens need some major help.
He is also already familiar with 3-4 defensive schemes, playing for Alabama, and should have an easy transition into the NFL.
Johnson still has a chance to jump back into the first round if he can increase production for the rest of the season, but likely he'll be on the board when the Ravens pick in Round 2.
5. Kevin Reddick ILB (North Carolina)
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Weight: 240 pounds
Projection: Round 3
Kevin Reddick is another prospect that was expected to have a more impactful senior season, though he is still ripe with potential at the next level considering his rare combination of size and speed.
He's still raw as a prospect and could benefit from sitting behind Ray Lewis and learning if he should decide to come back for his 18th NFL season.