Baltimore Ravens Mock Draft: Who Are the Experts Projecting to Baltimore?
Ray Lewis won the Super Bowl in his last game as a player.
Joe Flacco showed his critics once again they don't know what they're talking about. He became just the 42nd player ever to win a Super Bowl MVP award (including the co-MVP awards handed out in Super Bowl XII).
Now that exit interviews have concluded and lockers have been cleaned out, it's vacation time for the players.
But for the coaches and front office, not so much.
For the next two-and-a-half months, coaches, scouts and executives will be preparing for the NFL draft (April 25-27).
Especially now that the 2012 NFL season is officially over, it's officially time for the mock draft mayhem to resume. Here are who a few draft "experts" are projecting the Ravens to take in Round 1.
Sam Montgomery, Defensive End, LSU
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL Network, NFL.com)
Montgomery would team up with Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw to provide a diverse and dynamic outside pass-rushing trio.
The Ravens' defensive ends were not the problem in 2012. Arthur Jones played very well throughout the season and played exceptional football in the Super Bowl. Though young, Pernell McPhee is getting better and has shown signs of becoming another big-time Ravens defender.
Adding Montgomery would certainly help, but I doubt it's a smart move considering more pressing needs (middle linebacker, safety, left tackle, etc.).
Manti Te'o, Middle Linebacker, Notre Dame
Josh Norris (NFL.com)
[H]is stock unfairly fell after the BCS National Championship Game because it was elevated much higher than it should have been by many on the outside. He will be a good starting inside linebacker in the NFL.
Te'o is a good inside linebacker. He made seven interceptions in 2012, which tells you his pass coverage is above average.
Off-field distractions considered, I'm not sure he's the right fit for Baltimore. His performance in the BCS Championship and the lack of quality opponents Notre Dame played raises red flags.
You know the Ravens are firmly among the few teams that will be challenging for a world title every year. Is Te'o the right player to lead that defense with so much at stake?
DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Walter Cherepinsky (WalterFootball.com)
Anquan Boldin had a fantastic playoff run, but multiple reports indicate that he won't be back next year because of salary-cap implications.
I'm probably in the minority, but even if the Ravens don't retain Anquan Boldin, I still think they (the Ravens) are in good shape at the wide receiver position.
Like Montgomery, Hopkins is probably a first-round player who could help the Ravens, but he doesn't fill a need.
Jesse Williams, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Todd McShay (ESPN, ESPN.com via Baltimore Beatdown)
He's not flashy, but Williams is the kind of big, tough, selfless defensive linemen who can occupy blockers and make average linebackers and safeties look much better as run defenders.
Depending on how the first round shakes out, this could be a very interesting pick for Baltimore.
Williams is definitely an interior defensive lineman who would seem to fit perfectly in Baltimore's defense. What's ironic is that the spot he would take is currently occupied by former Crimson Tide defender Terrence Cody.
After starting every game in 2011, Cody only started three games in 2012. In other words, his play has declined and the Ravens will probably look to draft a defensive tackle in April.
But what is the Ravens' grade on Williams? Depending on how high they have him graded, which, considering the elite level Alabama's defense plays at each year, is probably very high, it wouldn't be a stretch for Baltimore to select Williams with the 32nd pick.
Drafting a middle linebacker is a key. Drafting a player like Williams to control the point of attack would instantly help any middle linebacker who takes the field with him.
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia
Michael Schottey (Bleacher Report)
Here, they add Austin as a shifty, dynamic receiver to take advantage of all the space created while Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones push defenses vertically. If you're going to pay Joe Flacco all that money, you better give him some toys to play with.
Tavon Austin is that one offensive player, in my opinion, the Ravens should look at taking in the first round.
Austin holds Maryland high school records for most career points (790), most career touchdowns (123), most career total offensive yards (9,258) and most career rushing yards (7,962).
Austin kept shredding defenses at West Virginia. As a wide receiver, he totaled 288 receptions for 3,413 yards (11.9-yard average) and 29 touchdowns. As a rusher, Austin gained 1,031 yards on 109 carries (9.5-yard average) and scored scored six times. As a returner, he scored five touchdowns (four on kick returns, one on a punt return).
Not that they need offensive help, but Austin's on-field performance and hometown roots may sway the Ravens toward drafting him in Round 1.