Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my first attempt at a complete Seven-Round Baltimore Ravens Mock Draft a little over two weeks ago.
As is often the case with these kinds of things, I sat down feeling great about my choices for the Ravens and then after thinking about it and doing a lot more reading, I feel like I need to adjust a few things.
The Rolando McClain deal makes me feel even more strongly about the Ravens' draft plans.
Let me know what you think of this one.
Previous pick: Kevin Minter ILB, LSU
The more I look at it, I think there are three players Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens will look to with the last pick in the first round: Matt Elam, Kevin Minter, and Keenan Allen.
Elam makes a ton of sense. The guy is physical, fills a big need and would be an ideal safety to pair with the newly-signed Michael Huff.
I wrote that the pick would be Minter in my last mock, but Baltimore sports writing stalwart John Eisenberg convinced me. After gutting their defense, the Ravens have systematically shown why they have one of the best front offices in the NFL. Newsome has bolstered the Ravens' defensive line, upgraded their pass rush and rotated some new faces into the secondary. Although they are still thin at ILB, Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees spoke of kicking Courtney Upshaw inside next to Jameel McClain this week and the draft is deep at ILB.
The one member of the Super Bowl team that they have yet to replace is the steady Anquan Boldin. ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote last week that trading Boldin was the only move of the Ravens' offseason he hasn't liked. Boldin was a primary weapon in the postseason and no combination of David Reed, Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson will fill the void "Q" leaves on the Ravens offense.
Keenan Allen seems like the logical pick for me. Scouts have him rated as a top-5 WR, and, unlike Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson (both of whom will be long gone by No. 32), Allen has the skill set to help the Ravens move on from Boldin.
There is a fairly good chance Allen will also be gone, as plenty of teams could use a WR, in which case I think the Ravens could fall back on Minter or Elam if they are available. Still, I have seen several mocks with the Ravens taking the Cal product at the end of the first round.
My thinking is that his less-than-ideal 40-yard time at his pro day will push him to the back end of the first round.
Time will tell and everyone knows that Ozzie Newsome loves to trade back for more picks, but for now I have Keenan Allen heading to Baltimore.
Previous pick: Brandon Williams NT, Missouri Southern State
Another small school guy for Baltimore in this mock. Bryant McKinnie was such a problem last season that John Harbaugh consciously made his team worse by not playing him until later in the year. The Ravens have struggled to replace Jonathan Ogden at left tackle since the Hall of Fame inductee retired five years ago.
They hoped Michael Oher would be the answer, but Oher is more suited on the right side. Terron Armstead really impressed me at the Senior Bowl. A late invitee to the game, Armstead is athletic, strong and has terrific size. He is 6'5" and a lean 310 pounds. He has long, long arms. If you didn't see the combine, Armstead ran an incredible 4.71 official 40-yard dash.
Some of you might be thinking, this guy is a vinatge Al Davis pick because of the impressive measurables. Picking guys on numbers is not something Ozzie Newsome falls for. The Ravens have shown a lot of interest in Syracuse OT Justin Pugh, why wouldn't they take him?
For me, it is possible (maybe even likely) that the Ravens bring back McKinnie for a discounted, one-year rental contract. Armstead is the guy you want to mold into the left tackle of the future. Eric De Costa mentioned him as one of the prospects the team would consider in an interview with BaltimoreRavens.com.
Armstead would be another step toward surrounding Joe Flacco with young talent.
Previous pick: Chris Harper WR, Kansas State
Yes, Dean Pees did say that Baltimore would consider moving last year's second-round selection, Courtney Upshaw, inside to help mitigate the losses of Ray Lewis and Danelle Ellerbe. But I think that Upshaw will be used more in sub-packages and certain downs and moved around a lot.
Upshaw weighed close to 270 pounds for most of last season and I don't know if I can see him sticking with top flight tight ends and running backs in pass coverage.
Jon Bostic is a step in the right direction for a team trying to fill some pretty big shoes that Lewis left. Virtually everything I have read on Bostic is positive, and the end of the third round looks about right for his talent.
At 6'1" and 245 pounds, Bostic ran a faster 40 time than Kevin Minter, Manti Te'o and Alec Ogletree. Bostic also put up a solid 22 reps on the bench, giving him a great combination of size, speed and strength. He is a hard hitter and would impose himself in the NFL right away.
Bostic needs to improve on his ability to diagnose plays, and I think following Jameel McClain's leadership will help his development. Still, Bostic was voted Second-Team All-SEC last year and looked great in the positional drills at his pro day.
The Ravens could find their next great linebacker in Bostic.
Previous pick: Joe Kruger DE/OLB, Utah
After my last mock, many of the comments stated that the Ravens would take a safety earlier rather than later in the draft (I had them choosing Florida's Josh Evans in the fifth). The Michael Huff signing pushed safety down the board for the Ravens in terms of need, but I will acknowledge waiting until the fifth round might be too long.
Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round is a steal. This guy can play. He is only 5'9", but he ran a 4.42, 40-yard dash at the combine and put up 28 reps on the bench. The more film I watch on this guy, the more I like him.
With Bernard Pollard gone, Thomas would fill a need for the Ravens and might even be an improvement. Although Pollard was reliable against the run, he often got burned over the top. I like this pick a lot.
Previous pick: Ricky Wagner
Wagner just seems to be a Ravens-type of player, so I'm going to go with him again here. As I wrote last time:
Wisconsin is an offensive linemen factory, and Wagner could prove to be a tremendous value pick at the back end of the fourth round. He might be able to start at left tackle right away.
I think the Ravens go with a tight end with this mid-round pick. Both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are going to be unrestricted free agents after next season, and conventional wisdom in the cap-crunch era says they won't be able to keep them both.
I see Dickson heading elsewhere, as Pitta has solid chemistry with Joe Flacco. Ryan Otten would be able to step into a TE set and excel at blocking and intermediate route-running. A year as the third tight end on the depth chart would give Otten the time to learn the system and fill out his 6'5" frame.
I just really like Otten's motor. The Ravens have shown interest in the San Jose State product, and his skill set fits what the Ravens like to do. He is relentless in blocking and can make back-shoulder catches.
After Cary Williams' departure to Philadelphia, Jimmy Smith, Asa Jackson, Corey Graham, Chykie Brown and Lardarius Webb round out the corner depth chart for the Ravens.
Although Jimmy Smith may finally be healthy, with Webb coming off an ACL injury, I think the Ravens will look to add depth at the cornerback position in the mid- to late rounds of the draft.
UConn's Dwayne Gratz is a great option at this point in the draft. Gratz is roughly 6'0" and weighs 200 pounds. He plays an agressive, physical style that is becoming the norm against the pass-happy offenses in the NFL.
For me, Gratz is underrated. He had a 38-inch vertical leap at the combine and put up 22 reps to lead the defensive back class in both categories. Gratz also had a spectacular Orange Bowl, with an interception and a kickoff return for a touchdown. This kind of versatility is something the Ravens front office loves.
Previous Pick- Kwame Geathers
I still think the Ravens add defensive line depth later in this draft. I had Georgia's Kwame Geathers going at pick No. 199 last time, but after a little thinking and watching some tape, I like what Montori Hughes brings to the table a little more.
After being dismissed from Tennessee, Hughes landed at Tennessee-Martin where he excelled against inferior competition. This exacerbated a few bad habits that could have been worked out in the SEC. To go along with his dreaded "character issues" stemming from his dismissal, Hughes does not anticipate the snap count well and can be prone to jumping offside.
But when he is motivated, Hughes can play. A lot of commentators have said that Balitmore will experience a dearth of leaders after the departure of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but I completely disagree. Ray Rice and Joe Flacco have proven to be soft-spoken examples, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs exhibit different flavors of defensive leadership, and former teammate Von Miller recently called Elvis Dumervil the "rock" of the Denver Broncos. The Ravens locker room can still take a raw talent like Hughes and help mold him into a dependable pro.
Hughes has ideal size (6'4 and 330 lbs.) and has the perfect skills to push NT Terrence Cody for playing time. He plays with aggressive hands and with Art Jones set to high free agency next spring, Hughes could be an important security blanket on the front three.
Previous pick: Michael Williams
Ravens get a little more depth at safety with Wolf. I really like his athleticism and toughness. Wolf is extremely underrated coming out of NC State even after a strong combine where he tested off the charts.
Wolf's teammate in the secondary, David Amerson, is generating a lot more buzz at the cornerback position, but Wolf served the Wolfpack as a powerful enforcer in the middle of the field.
His weaknesses are exposed when he gets caught in isolated coverage, but with Michael Huff, a healthy Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb, along with several role players, Wolf is unlikely to get completely exposed that often.
Wolf could be a very worthy Pollard replacement.
Previous Pick: Brandon Kaufman
Yep, still on the Kaufman bandwagon:
"I love Brandon Kaufman (center in the picture above).
He is my favorite pick of this mock draft. It's not just because he went to Eastern Washington and has great beard potential.
I am a fan of Brandon Kaufman because he can play. The 6'5" WR went for over 100 yards in 11 of 13 games last season. He runs great routes and works well over the middle of the field.
What really sells me on him is that he fits what the Ravens need right now.
Tommy Streeter (last year's sixth-round pick) spent the season on IR and could turn out to be a solid player. But beyond Streeter, all of the Ravens' unproven receivers are small. Undrafted Deonte Thompson works best in the slot, Tandon Doss doesn't have good enough hands to overcome his lack of speed and David Reed is a nothing more than a returner.
Kaufman dominated as a redshirt senior, albeit against inferior competition. But as countless wideouts have shown, no-name receivers on draft day frequently end up as reliable starters once the pads come on."
Previous pick: JC Tretter
Ramon Harewood was signed to a one-year deal. Jah Reid still needs to prove himself, and the Ravens are in a bit of unpublicized rework of their offensive line. Blaize Foltz is a guard without question. He isn't all that athletic and has had some injuries in the past.
But Foltz is solid. He is a great pick at this point in the draft to provide depth. He is smart and quick to pick up new blocking schemes. He also was second-team All-Big 12 last season.
Foltz is not going to be a star, but he could develop into a star one day and provide crucial depth at a thin position for the Ravens.
Previous pick: Terrence Brown
I waffled on this pick a little bit. With the last pick in the draft for the Ravens, they could go in a number of different directions. They could potentially add another QB to provide more depth, look to develop another linebacker or even go for more help in the secondary.
But hear me out on Juszczyk. The guy looked great at the Senior Bowl. He catches passes, blocks extremely well and ran a 4.79, 40-yard dash at the combine.
More importantly, taking Juszczyk here could allow the Ravens to think about either cutting Vonta Leach or restructuring his contact. Leach makes roughly $3 million per year, and even though I love what the guy brings, he's only on the field for two downs most of the time.
Kyle Juszczyk is smart and experienced and could save the Ravens some cap space.