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With Matt Ryan, Sedrick Ellis and Vernon Gholston likely to go before the Ravens pick, I see the Ravens settling for one of the draft’s top three cornerbacks, either Leodis McKelvin, Aqib Talib or Mike Jenkins, with McKelvin making the most sense.
Selecting a cornerback in the first round would address the Ravens biggest need, however there are still several players in the second round that would fill needs as well.
Brian Brohm, Louisville – quarterback (6-foot-2, 230, 4.83) – It would be surprising to see him fall this far especially with Miami sitting right at the top of the second round but crazier things have happened. Brohm put up very impressive numbers in college but is considered a bit of a product of Louisville’s system. His accuracy has never been questioned and he actually refined his mechanics as a senior, subsequently improving his arm strength. Brohm is very heady QB who knows how to read a defense and will be a starting quarterback in the NFL for the next decade. A major question mark facing Brohm is his durability as he has battled significant injuries each of the past three seasons.
Joe Flacco, Delaware – quarterback (6-foot-6, 236, 4.80) – Possessing rare size and a rocket arm, Flacco is flying up draft boards. Flacco will never be considered a running threat, but moves well in the pocket and is tough to bring down. While he has all the tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, Flacco is still raw and is better suited to sit and learn for 2-3 years. His footwork is sloppy at times and he constantly stares down his intended target. Despite his flaws, some team will reach on his potential but will make a huge mistake if it throws him into the fire too early.
Chad Henne, Michigan – quarterback (6-foot-2, 230, 4.96) – Like Flacco, Henne has a terrific arm and can make every throw. A four year starter, Henne has tons of experience against top competition. Henne was very solid at Michigan but was highly inconsistent. He will show overconfidence in his arm, trying to force throws into coverage and lacks composure under pressure. Henne also tends to hold onto the ball too long and takes more sacks than he should.
Lawrence Jackson, USC – defensive end (6-foot-4, 271, 4.76) – The Ravens could use some depth on the defensive line and a potential replacement for Trevor Pryce if he is not back in 2009. Jackson put up decent sack numbers in college but lacks speed off the edge and will not be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL. Regardless, he is a very solid player who does a good job against the run and is capable of getting pressure on the quarterback. Jackson is an ideal fit in a 3-4 but can play end in a 4-3 as well.
DaJuan Morgan, N.C State – safety (6-foot-0, 205, 4.54) – Dawan Landry has been an adequate starter especially against the run but is a liability against the pass and leaves the Ravens cornerbacks vulnerable over the top. While safety may not be as much of a pressing need as cornerback or quarterback, it would be wise to bring in a young safety to at least push Landry for the starting spot and be able to come in on passing situations. Morgan enjoyed a breakout 2007 season, his first full season as a starter, ranking first on N.C State with 97 tackles. Morgan is an aggressive tackler who sometimes makes the mistake of going for the big hit rather than wrapping up. His limited experience is a concern but Morgan is an instinctive player with all the physical tools to be successful at the next level.
Kenny Phillips, Miami – safety (6-foot-2, 212, 4.55) – Coming off a disappointing junior season, Phillips has slipped from a potential top-15 pick to a likely spot in the late first-early second round. Phillips needs to show more discipline as he is susceptible to biting on fakes and play actions but remains the top safety prospect in the class. Phillips follows in a long line of Miami safeties, including the Ravens Ed Reed, and like Reed is a complete safety. Phillips can play in the box and is a sound tackler capable of delivering the big hit. He is also very good against the pass, showing off good athleticism, instincts and ball skills.
If the Ravens decide to pass on a cornerback with their first round pick, here are a couple names to keep an eye on in the second round.
Antoine Cason, Arizona (6-foot-0, 191, 4.48)
Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech (5-foot-9, 189, 4.58)
Tracy Porter, Indiana (5-foot-10, 188, 4.37)
Check back later in the week as I take a look at some of the players the Ravens could target in the third-fourth round area. Remember, the Ravens gave up their third rounder in the Willis McGahee trade. However, it has been rumored that the Ravens may receive a compensatory third round pick for the loss of Adalius Thomas last year in free agency.