145 days from now, the 2013 NFL Draft will begin.
While the college football season is almost over, there are still months of workouts, interviews, pro days and preparations before the draft.
A team may need to fill a hole at a position today that they don't need to fill in a few months. Who looks like a top-10 pick today may not go in the first round in late April.
For the Ravens, the good news is that they're a perennial playoff team who has good depth. The bad news is that they're a perennial playoff team, which will result in a late-round draft pick.
Team needs include center, middle linebacker and free safety, as well as pass-rushers and cornerbacks. The latter two are needs more because of how the game of professional football is played rather than a weakness on the Ravens' roster.
Of course, this is not accounting for any trades that may happen between now and the end of the draft. Mostly, this is a guess at who the Ravens are interested in that will fit their needs and be available when they pick.
Barrett Jones is the quintessential offensive lineman.
He's played every position along the line and won the Outland Trophy last season (nation's best interior lineman). He is one of three finalists for this year's award.
Last year he started at left tackle. This year he's the starting center.
Matt Birk is 36 and the Ravens' offensive line hasn't been the bright spot of the team this season. Even if Birk plays out the remaining two years of his contract, Jones could likely fill in at other positions until Birk retires.
Think of a smart, versatile lineman who could develop with Joe Flacco for the next decade. He's as safe of a prospect as there is in the draft.
Ray Lewis, 37, is the oldest player on the Ravens. He's also recovering from a torn right triceps muscle.
Far be it from me (or anyone) to tell Lewis when he should or should not retire. The fact remains that time will come, probably sooner rather than later.
When that happens, the Ravens will need someone to physically and emotionally take over the middle of their defense. It will be a very tall task indeed, but that player shouldn't try to be Lewis (because it can't be).
Kevin Minter is an explosive, hard-nosed linebacker from the SEC. He started 11 games and made five tackles in the National Championship last year as a sophomore.
Although he hasn't declared for the draft, when he declares, he figures to be selected by the time the second round concludes.
Minter may not be the perfect player, but honestly, who is? He's almost always around the ball and defends the perimeter better than most players his size.
He plays like a Raven.
Staying with the current theme of SEC greats replacing aging veterans, I think it would be a good pick for both parties if Baltimore selected Bacarri Rambo in the upcoming draft.
Early last year in his junior season, Rambo's son was delivered stillborn. He wound up making eight interceptions and being named as an Associated Press first-team All-American. He's been through what must seem like a lifetime of sorrow before the age of 22, and has overcome it very well.
This year Rambo has continued to make plays all over the field for the No. 3 Bulldogs. He's a free safety that is capable of playing the strong safety position as well. Rambo moves and recognizes plays about as well as any safety in college football.
Ed Reed has numerous injuries, but is still making big plays for Baltimore. How much longer will his body his body hold up?
Until he misses an extended amount of time you can't doubt him. But since the draft is about finding the next great player, drafting Rambo in the third round wouldn't be a bad idea.
Can Ozzie Newsome resist a tight end from Alabama, especially one with the size and talent of Michael Williams?
At 6'6", 269 pounds and with underrated athleticism, Williams would be a excellent pick for the Ravens at this point in the draft. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are good NFL players, but at different times this season both have had to fight off big injuries.
What would be the best part about the Ravens picking Williams is that his strength is run blocking where Dickson and Pitta are talented pass-catchers. This trio would create more balance and trouble for opposing defensive coordinators.
It's a double-edged sword when it comes to Williams, because his NFL.com draft profile described him as a "lean offensive tackle." He could come in as an extra blocker quite often, but when left to block one-on-one against the pass-rushers in the AFC North, he could struggle.
If you've watched the Ravens this year, you've seen they still have a hole at left guard following the departure of Ben Grubbs.
Baltimore drafted Gino Gradkowski last year in the fourth round. Gradkowski is the same size as Uzzi (6'3", 300 pounds), but Gradkowski may also be able to take over for Matt Birk at center.
Georgia Tech was ranked fourth in major college football rushing offense, racking up 3,880 yards (323.3 yards per game). Uzzi is a quick, aggressive player who excels at getting to the second level. He was a second-team All-American last season as a redshirt junior.
If there was a higher rated left tackle on the board before this pick, the Ravens may be inclined to select that player. But if this scenario unfolded, I imagine they'd take a good look at Uzzi.
At this point in the draft, teams are simply looking to add depth and find players who will rotate in for certain situations.
Ma'ake Kemoeatu has been the Ravens' starter at nose tackle for most of the season, but he's 33 and will be a free agent after this season. Terrance Cody had been good at times, but underwhelming at others and will be a free agent at the end of 2014.
Aaron Tipoti was first-team preseason All-Pac-12 as well as on the Outland Trophy watch list this year. He's big enough (6'2", 311 pounds) for a defensive tackle, but may not be big enough to be a pure nose tackle.
Tipoti shows good quickness and burst. He also uses his hands and feet well and puts himself in position to disrupt blocking schemes.
If Baltimore selected him in the sixth round, he would be a low-risk selection that could end up being the next Kelly Gregg.
Although I think they have the best safety tandem in the league, and although I have them taking a safety in the third round, the Ravens don't have good depth at that position.
In 2010, Ray Polk started all 12 games of his sophomore season alongside cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was selected by the Ravens in the first round of the 2011 draft. Like Smith, Polk has fought through an injury (wrist sprain in the winter of 2011) and has been able to make big plays in coverage and around the line of scrimmage.
Allowing Polk (free) and Rambo (free/strong) to develop behind Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard seems like a good idea. Assuming Lardarius Webb returns next season fully healed from the ACL injury he sustained in Week 6, the Baltimore secondary figures to be very crowded in the 2013 preseason.
If Polk can show scouts that he is healed well and tightened up his technique (came into Colorado as a running back), it wouldn't be a shock for the Ravens to select him in the late rounds.