Baltimore Ravens 2013 NFL Draft: Building the Perfect 7-Round Draft
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It has been well documented that the Baltimore Ravens have had a lot of turnover this offseason. Perhaps we are seeing the Ravens reverse this with the signings of Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, and Marcus Spears.
There is still much work to be done in the free-agent market before the draft. No matter what happens, though, the draft will be extremely important to Baltimore, and, thanks to compensatory picks, the Ravens have 12 picks with which to reload their team.
Whom and how will the Ravens draft? Baltimore has many holes to fill. There are still needs at the middle linebacker position and both safety positions, as well as at offensive tackle (depending on Bryant McKinnie's status), wide receiver and possibly corner, with the departure of Cary Williams.
Despite all these needs, Ozzie Newsome has a reputation for drafting the best players available regardless of the positions of the players or the needs of the team. Luckily, this draft is deep in the areas of need for the Baltimore Ravens.
This mock draft will be based primarily on big boards while considering needs, instead of the other way around.
First Round: Manti Te'o, Middle Linebacker
Te'o could prove to be a valuable pick at No. 32 overall.
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I can hear the moans now. He has some issues and question marks, but some of those question marks may have been answered.
As for the well-publicized hoax, that will take a long time to go away, if it ever does. But if Ray Lewis can overcome murder charges to become the unquestioned leader of the Baltimore Ravens for many years, then perhaps Te'o can follow in his footsteps in more ways than one.
In more recent history, Vontaze Burfict was signed by the Ravens' AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent. He was once considered the top middle linebacker in the 2012 draft. A poor combine, which featured an even worse 40 time than Te'o's and questions about his character, caused his stock to plummet. Since then, he has turned out to be one of the biggest steals of his draft class, as he had a very productive 2012 season.
The point is that it is not all about 40 times. It is the total package. Te'o is a playmaker and could step in and start right away on a Ravens defense that now features a solid defensive line to go along with two Pro Bowl outside linebackers.
Depending on how far some other players fall, the Ravens could also consider Kevin Minter, Matt Elam, Alec Ogletree or Justin Hunter, who has been rising on many draft boards as of late.
Second Round: Menelik Watson, Offensive Tackle
Watson could be a project but has a lot of upside.
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Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson has all the tools to be a successful offensive lineman. He has the size and athletic ability. Watson is a former basketball player, and as a consequence, he has quick feet, agility and balance. The catch is his experience.
According to CBSSports.com, Watson has only played two seasons of football, so he is extremely raw. If the Ravens were to draft Watson, they would need to retain Bryant McKinnie or sign another veteran tackle to allow Watson to develop.
Third Round: Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback
The "Honey Badger" could be a great value in the third round.
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We will never know how high former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu would have been drafted had it not been for some bad decisions off the field. Nonetheless, his play on the field and performance at the combine should tempt a team to take a gamble on Mathieu, aka "Honey Badger."
According to The Sports Xchange, Mathieu did not disappoint at the NFL combine, where he ran an unofficial time of 4.43 in the 40. Quick and athletic, Mathieu is an aggressive playmaker who could contribute on an NFL roster.
Although corner is not a major need for Baltimore, when comparing it to some other holes on the roster, the Ravens did lose Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb is coming off an injury and Jimmy Smith has yet to play a full season healthy. The NFL is a passing league, and defenses often line up in nickle and dime formations throughout the game. In other words, depth at corner is almost a necessity.
Mathieu could push for playing time and add much-needed depth to the defensive backfield. He would arguably be the best player on the board long before the Ravens pick in the third round. If Mathieu can put his off-the-field problems behind him, he could turn out to be a steal on draft day.
Fourth Round: D.J. Swearinger, Free Safety
The Ravens could use Swearinger's hard hits in one of the vacant safety spots.
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The Ravens have some big holes to fill in both safety positions. Longtime Raven and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed recently signed a contract with AFC rival Houston Texans, and the Ravens also cut hard-hitting Bernard Pollard.
His versatility would serve him well. Even if the Ravens sign a veteran free safety (Michael Huff, for instance), Swearinger could also play strong safety, which may suit him better, anyway. Known as a hard hitter, the 2012 second-team All-SEC pick has played both safety positions and some cornerback in his college career.
4th Round (Compensatory Pick): Kenny Stills, Wide Receiver
Hopefully this Sooner receiver works out better than Mark Clayton.
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Kenny Stills has the size and measurables to be a solid receiver in the NFL. The Ravens may be looking to add to the receiving corps after trading Anquan Boldin
Stills stands at 6'1" while weighing 194 pounds, and he runs a 4.38 40-yard dash. He has good hands and had a productive career while at Oklahoma. He could push for playing time as the third wideout behind Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.
If he is available, the Ravens may also consider Stedman Bailey out of West Virginia. He has great hands and would be able to line up as a slot receiver in the Ravens offense. He may be gone before the Ravens get the chance to draft him, though.
Fifth Round: Kevin Reddick, Middle Linebacker
Reddick could provide much-needed depth to the Ravens' linebacker corps.
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Kevin Reddick was a two-time team captain and four-year starter at North Carolina. His leadership and instincts will be needed, with the departure of some key leaders like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
Smart and instinctive, Reddick has good size and speed for his position (running a 4.72 40-yard dash). His effort on the field is questionable but may be attributed to fatigue since he hardly ever leaves the field. Reddick could be a steal here. At the beginning of the season, he was ranked just behind Manti Te'o at the position.
The Ravens need to restock their defense, especially at inside linebacker.
5th Round (Compensatory Pick): J.C. Tretter, Offensive Guard
Photo courtesy Cornell Sports Information.
A small-school prospect out of Cornell, J.C. Tretter possesses upside, but there are questions about his level of competition. Tretter is strong, with the potential to get stronger. Before becoming an offensive lineman, he was a tight end.
Tretter would provide depth along the interior of the Ravens offensive line.
Sixth Round (From San Francisco), David Bass, Defensive End
You can never have enough pass-rushers.
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Even though the Ravens have recently signed Elvis Dumervil and have Terrell Suggs and Pernell McPhee, the saying goes that you can never have enough pass-rushers.
David Bass is another small-school prospect out of Missouri Western State. The fairly quick defensive end has a career total of 56 tackles for loss and 39.5 sacks over a four year career.
Bass could be a bit of a sleeper and help boost what was a somewhat dormant pass rush last season. The Ravens should be able to move Bass back and forth between outside linebacker and defensive end.
Sixth Round: Kwame Geathers, Defensive Tackle
Geathers would provide depth along the defensive line.
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Ozzie Newsome has made improving the defensive line a priority. Last season, Terrence Cody underperformed and was beaten out for the starting job by veteran Ma'ake Kemoeatu.
Cody's roster spot is in question. If nothing else, he needs competition, and Kwame Geathers could be the one to provide that. Like Cody, Geathers is a big-bodied tackle who uses his size to clog the middle and stuff the run, an area Baltimore needs to improve in.
Geathers is the son of Robert Geathers, Sr., so the pedigree is certainly there. He moves well for a big man and could be a good value in the sixth round for the Ravens.
Sixth Round (Compensatory Pick): Earl Wolff, Strong Safety
Wolff would compete for a starting spot on the Ravens defense and provide special teams depth, as well.
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As mentioned before, the Ravens have some holes at the safety position. That could change, and they have drafted some in the recent past. Nonetheless, they would be smart to add to the competition to allow the cream to rise to the top. Enter the Wolf...Earl Wolff, that is.
The former All-ACC N.C. State standout has good speed and explosion out of the strong safety spot. Last season, he collected 117 tackles and two interceptions for the Wolfpack. At a minimum, Wolff could add depth to both the safety position and special teams.
Seventh Round: Matt Stankiewitch, Center
Stankiewitch will try to push Gino Gradkowski for playing time.
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With Matt Birk retiring, Gino Gradkowski is the lone center on the Ravens roster and is consequently the de facto starter. The Ravens need some depth at this position, so drafting the gritty Matt Stankiewitch would make sense here.
Stankiewitch stands at 6'3" and weighs in at 302 pounds. His solid play earned him a spot on the All-Big Ten team this past season. He is considered better at run blocking than at pass blocking. The Penn State alum has some experience at guard, as well.
Seventh Round (Compensatory Pick): Stansly Maponga, Defensive End
Maponga will have to fight hard to make the squad but could contribute.
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With 12 draft picks, the Ravens will have a lot of positional battles in training camp. I have suspicions that they will trade some of their picks, but only time will tell.
The Ravens could go a lot of different ways with this pick (or many other picks, for that matter). They may consider another receiver or linebacker here, but TCU's Stansly Maponga appears to be one of the best players available in this slot.
Although he played defensive end in college, his size could prompt a team to move him to outside linebacker. Maponga has been an effective pass-rusher over his college career. He has decent speed and quickness and could be a solid contributor on the Ravens' reshuffled defense.