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OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens had blue-chip running back Marshawn Lynch in for a visit even though heâ€™s likely to be drafted in the top half of the first round.
The Ravens have the No. 29 overall pick of the first round, and the California-Berkeley standout is expected to be a prime target for teams like the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans depending on whether the Bills or Titans trade for San Diego Chargers runner Michael Turner.
NFL teams often bring in players that are unlikely to be available when theyâ€™re on the clock, just as the Ravens did last year when they flew in future Titans starting quarterback Vince Young in for a job interview.
Itâ€™s believed that the Ravens scheduled this visit before they executed a trade for Bills running back Willis McGahee to fill their backfield vacancy created by Jamal Lewis signing with the Browns.
There’s always the possibility that Lynch could slide due to a few off-field issues.
In January, Lynch was accused of sexual assault by his girlfriend, but law enforcement officials declined to press charges, citing "grave inconsistencies" in the woman’s accusations. The report still raised eyebrows throughout the league.
A year ago, Lynch’s car was hit with gunfire in Oakland while attending his younger sister’s graduation. Lynch called it a case of mistaken identity, adding that the shooter called his mother’s house to apologize.
In the past two seasons, Lynch has rushed for 2,602 yards and 21 touchdowns while catching 49 passes.
Lynch has already visited the Cleveland Browns and is scheduled to visit the Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Packers, Bills, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, according to his agent, Doug Hendrickson, of Octagon Sports.
â€œItâ€™s a two-back draft with Adrian Peterson and Marshawn,â€ Hendrickson said. â€œPersonally, I donâ€™t see Marshawn getting past Green Bay. I could see him going even higher to Buffalo or maybe Atlanta. Itâ€™s hard to predict.
â€œDown the road, I believe heâ€™ll be the best back coming out of this draft. Heâ€™s only 20 years old and he has a very similar build to LaDainian Tomlinson with unbelievable hands.â€
Meanwhile, Central Michigan left offensive tackle Joe Staley could climb into the top half of the first round following his impressive recent workouts.
The 6-foot-6, 302-pound converted tight end clocked a 4.79 and a 4.81 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams.
"He’s a good fit for a lot of people," said Staley’s agent, Rick Smith. "A lot of people are talking about Joe Staley. The momentum keeps building. I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps over Levi Brown as we get closer to the draft."
Staley doesn’t have a visit set up with the Ravens, and Smith doubts, er, hopes he won’t be available for the Ravensâ€™ pick.
"They’re mostly looking for interior players on the line," Smith said. "I don’t think he would still be there for Baltimore to pick at that spot."
The Ravens brought in University of Tennessee tackle/guard Arron Sears and University of Texas tackle/guard Justin Blalock this week for visits. Staley currently has visits scheduled with the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints.
NOTE: University of Florida defensive end Ray McDonald said heâ€™s scheduled to visit the Ravens. He has already visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6-foot-4, 276-pound lineman has recovered from two serious knee surgeries two years ago and has been drawing interest from the New York Giants, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, Browns, Saints, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.
In 36 starts for the Gators, McDonald registered 133 tackles, 10 sacks, 25 Â½ tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
â€œI just donâ€™t want to let anyone beat me,â€ McDonald said. â€œItâ€™s just me being a competitor. You donâ€™t want to let anyone show you up.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.