The Baltimore Ravens enter the 2013 NFL draft as the defending Super Bowl champions. Yet, with the recent departure of multiple veterans and emerging young stars, the Ravens must look to upgrade their roster in order to compete for a third championship.
With 12 picks in this year's draft, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have plenty of options with the draft only a few days away.
Which prospects in this year's draft class can immediately help the Ravens in 2013? Here are a few quality prospects that can help the Ravens this coming season.
The Baltimore Ravens are notoriously known for drafting the top player on their board as opposed to settling for a player at a position of need.
Thus, Keenan Allen can come into play as the Ravens look to replace the production of Anquan Boldin. Allen reminds me in some ways of Boldin—a receiver that doesn't have blazing speed or a big frame, but is reliable as a pass-catcher and could complement the intermediate routes of the Ravens passing game very well.
With other receivers being coveted in the first round of this draft, Allen could slide to the 32nd pick, where the Ravens could then pull the trigger on the former California product.
Alec Ogletree remains a prospect with unknown draft stock. While he could very well be taken as early as a top-15 pick, he could fall to the end of the first round due to off-field concerns.
Ogletree's athleticism makes him valuable as a linebacker who can cover athletic tight ends well in the passing game. He needs to continue improving his hand work when he tries to shed off blockers, but he has proved his worth by playing in the SEC against future pro prospects.
The likelihood is that Ogletree doesn't fall this far, but it's certainly an option if he's available at 32.
The Ravens enter the draft with the safety position becoming one of the primary positions that need to be filled. Michael Huff was signed as a relatively cheap option through free agency, but the departure of both Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard leaves a weakness when it comes to depth at the position.
Matt Elam is a prototypical player that would fit in the Ravens defense. He's a player who runs at full speed every time he is on the field, both as a pass-defender and a run-stopper. While his high motor tends to hurt his production, he can be coached up by a veteran coaching staff that has developed their secondary well in recent years.
As I mentioned earlier, the safety position is clearly a position of need for the Ravens. The question is, how early will they address the need?
Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien could be an option. In fact, I am convinced that Baltimore could trade up in the draft to ensure that the rising star immediately makes an impact on this veteran defense.
His ball-hawking skills are to be admired, and he brings great physicality for a free safety. He's put his talent on display for multiple teams, but it would not be a shocker if his talents land in Baltimore on Thursday night.
While the notion that Manti Te'o could be selected by the Ravens in the first round has been tossed around, one should envision Arthur Brown as a legitimate target at linebacker.
Brown hasn't been viewed in a high regard compared to some of the other linebackers in this class due to his size. However, Brown stood out and anchored a Kansas State defense that was a major surprise during the college football season.
Many NFL teams tend to overvalue size and pass up on quality draft picks. Many teams did so in the 1996 draft when they passed up Ray Lewis. Although it's a major stretch to compare Brown to the future Hall of Famer, he could instantly become a force on a Baltimore defense that has already added plenty of new pieces to this year's unit.