Complete Ravens 7-Round Mock Draft for 2014
The Baltimore Ravens have eight picks in the NFL draft this year and nearly as many pressing roster needs. The question is whether they will be able to meet those needs successfully by picking the right players at the right time. This may be the trickiest predraft season for the Ravens in years.
Still, with the deepest draft class in recent memory—thanks to a record-high 98 draft-eligible underclassmen—the Ravens have a good shot at finding who they need.
The draft is nearly one month away, so it's the perfect time to start prognosticating the Ravens' picks. Here are eight players the Ravens could choose to add to their roster this year.
Round 1, Pick 17: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The Ravens could go many directions with their first-round pick, but if Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still on the board when they pick at 17th overall, they won't be able to pass him up for another position.
He would presumably step in as the Ravens' starting free safety. James Ihedigbo moved on in free agency, joining the Detroit Lions, which could prompt last year's first-round pick Matt Elam to move to his natural position at strong safety. If so, that would leave a void at free safety that couldn't adequately be filled by players who are currently on the roster.
Clinton-Dix can start immediately, even at such a demanding position as free safety. Not only is he a hard hitter, he's also a reliable tackler, which Bleacher Report's Ian Wharton also notes in his scouting report. He is a disciplined player with great instincts both against the run and the pass, and he has very few weaknesses.
With safety an increasingly important position in the NFL, the Ravens cannot assume they can find a starting-caliber, game-changing player in a later round. If Clinton-Dix hasn't been claimed by another team by the time the Ravens make their first-round selection, he must be the pick. He fills a pressing need and can become the centerpiece of their secondary for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 16 (48th Overall): OT Joel Bitonio, Nevada
The Ravens need to hit on a safety in the first round, but it comes at the expense of addressing the void at right tackle left by Michael Oher's free-agency departure. While Rick Wagner or Kelechi Osemele might be able to step in and start, the team will still be thin on quality offensive line depth.
That's where Nevada's Joel Bitonio comes in. While a bit undersized for a traditional tackle at 6'4", 302 pounds, Bitonio's skills make him an ideal candidate as a plug-and-play right tackle for Baltimore or as a guard, should Osemele move to the outside.
Bitonio is a high-motor, smart player, and despite his guard-like size, he "showed during the week of Senior Bowl practices that he is clearly capable of handling elite FBS-level edge presences efficiently," according to Bleacher Report's Alex Dunlap.
He needs to improve his upper-body strength, but that shouldn't become a problem when he makes it into an NFL weight room. He also needs to use his length better. But as Dunlap says, a pick spent on Bitonio "should yield positive benefits for years to come."
The Ravens need to drastically improve their offensive line and find players who can anchor it for the long term. Bitonio fills this need perfectly. He'd be a steal in Round 2.
Round 3, Pick 15 (79th Overall): WR Jarvis Landry, LSU
The Ravens bought themselves some time to iron out the future of their receiving corps by signing former Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith in March. However, he turns 35 years old in May—he's not going to be a long-term fixture on the field.
Wide receiver is a pressing need in this draft, but it's one the Ravens can afford to leave to the third round considering how deep this soon-to-be rookie class runs at the position.
What they need is a reliable mid-range receiver who runs strong routes and can complement tight end Dennis Pitta. LSU's Jarvis Landry fits this mold perfectly and could still be on the board when the team picks in the middle of the third round.
Landry caught 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013, doubling his yardage and touchdown totals from the previous year. He's a possession receiver who works out of the slot, with the requisite toughness and good route running for the position.
As Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal notes, he was also a "reliable checkdown option at LSU," which could help improve Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's completion percentage in short-yardage passes. Landry might not be the fastest receiver, but that won't matter when he's paired up with Torrey Smith.
The Ravens need to round out their receiving corps with a player like Landry. Should he make it to the third round, they will find in him a reliable receiver who can make Flacco's life easier and streamline the transition from an older player like Smith.
Round 3, Pick 35 (99th Overall, Compensatory): DE Brent Urban, Virginia
The Ravens are shockingly shallow at defensive end presently, with only three on the roster and just two—Chris Canty and DeAngelo Tyson—with starter-caliber talent. Virginia's Brent Urban would give the team much-needed depth as well as a player who can get playing time as a rookie while being developed into a second-year starter.
At 6'6" and 295 pounds, he is a monster of a man—as Bleacher Report's Darren Page rightly says, he "looks the part" of an NFL player. His size explains his nine batted passes in 2013, while his athleticism explains his 40 tackles, with 12.5 for a loss. He's extremely powerful, but his still-developing pass-rush skills make him more suited to playing defensive end in a 3-4 base.
Urban has time to hone his skills at getting to the quarterback while being a valuable tool in the Ravens' quest to stop the run. His size cannot be ignored, despite him being somewhat of a project.
He has all the raw materials to make something of himself in the NFL, while the Ravens possess the coaching to get him there. They are the perfect team for Urban, and the late third round is a great spot for them to take him.
Round 4, Pick 34 (134th Overall, Compensatory): TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
The Ravens have in Dennis Pitta a very talented receiving tight end who can also block when asked. Beyond him, however, they don't have much, having opted not to re-sign either Ed Dickson or Dallas Clark. It's a clear indication they want to round out the position in the draft, and because they don't need that player to be an elite-level receiver, they can put off addressing it until the middle rounds.
Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz is a good option for the Ravens. While he can catch passes—he had 30 receptions for 299 yards and six touchdowns last year—his biggest strength is as a blocker. Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal describes him as a "tough, physical and scrappy blocker" in his scouting report.
Fiedorowicz has the right size to be a blocking tight end in the NFL, with just enough athleticism to catch passes. His skill set is exactly what the Ravens need to add to their offense. His ability to play special teams, as well as his hardworking nature, gives him considerable upside. If he's still around in the fourth round, the Ravens would be smart to pick him.
Round 4, Pick 38 (138th Overall, Compensatory): G Chris Watt, Notre Dame
The Ravens need to add more than one offensive lineman in this year's draft; however, they don't need to find a number of immediate starters. Although right tackle is a pressing need, adding a guard is more about building depth and trying to develop a player who can start later. In the fifth round, the Ravens can find this in Notre Dame's Chris Watt.
Strong, smart and, according to Bleacher Report's Alex Dunlap, possessing "explosion through the hips"—a much-loved trait amongst evaluators—Watt has a lot of upside. He was the "quarterback of the offensive line" for Notre Dame, calling out the protection and reading the defense.
However, he is often inconsistent and is better as a run-blocker than a pass-protector. His hands need work—and his arms are short—which means his technique needs to make up for those physical limitations. However, he's a dedicated player with many positive intangibles. If Watt can develop, he can become a leader on the Ravens line.
Round 5, Pick 35 (175th Overall, Compensatory): ILB Max Bullough, Michigan State
The Ravens need to add more depth to their inside linebacking corps and won't be short on options in the draft. One of those options is Max Bullough of Michigan State, a durable player who, most importantly, is comfortable in coverage.
He had 76 tackles in 2013, including nine for a loss, along with 1.5 sacks and two pass breakups. He's very physical; Bleacher Report's Darren Page notes that Bullough "can overpower running backs as a blitzer," "takes on lead blocks and pulling guards with aggression and notable power" and "instinctively plays the ball in the air when in position."
Though Bullough has shown some skills in coverage, it is still his weakest area, mainly because he's not a very fast player. He's a bit stiff, which causes him to lose a step. However, he's shown improvement in each of his collegiate seasons—especially against the pass—and NFL-level coaching could be the missing piece to his development.
The fifth round might seem like a little too soon for the Ravens to go after Bullough, but with only a sixth-round pick remaining, they'll likely have to take him now or never get him. He has a Ravens style of play, and he'd fit, even if he doesn't get much playing time in his rookie year.
Round 6, Pick 18 (194th Overall): RB James White, Wisconsin
Ray Rice has been indicted for assault, while Bernard Pierce is recovering from shoulder surgery. The only other running back on the Ravens roster is Cierre Wood. So, the odds are high the team will be using a draft pick this year to bolster its stable of backs.
Because the value of running backs in the NFL is on the decline, the Ravens could have many attractive options to choose from even in the sixth round. One particularly good fit for the team would be Wisconsin's James White, who had 1,444 yards and 13 touchdowns on 221 carries in 2013.
Not only can he "sidestep defenders and create yardage," he is also a "patient runner that will follow his blocks closely and wait for the play to develop," according to Bleacher Report's Ryan Lownes' scouting report. He's a north-south runner, but he can also sidestep defenders and find cutback lanes as well.
Further, he is a reliable receiver who caught 39 passes for 300 yards and two scores last season. He also can play special teams on both coverage and as a returner and is a great blocker who can pick up blitzes.
White is a versatile, do-it-all back. He would be extremely useful to the Ravens, despite his small size at 5'9.125" and relatively average speed.