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The most likely course of action for the Ravens in the 2008 NFL Draft when considering need and the general consensus among draft forecasters is for Ozzie & Co. to select a cornerback in the first round and a quarterback in the second round.
We’ve taken a look at several of the prospects that will be of interest when the Ravens pick in each of those two rounds and as of right now I see Leodis McKelvin being taken with the first round pick and one of three quarterbacks (either Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco or Chad Henne) being taken in the second round.
While those two selections would certainly address two of the Ravens’ primary needs, there are still several areas that need to be solidified in order for the Ravens to re-emerge as a perennial power in the AFC North.
Safety may not jump out as a glaring issue with returning starters Dawan Landry and Ed Reed but Landry can be upgraded. He is solid against the run and is a big hitter in the secondary but is a liability in pass coverage. Adding depth on the defensive line is a must especially behind Trevor Pryce and even if they do take McKelvin in the first round, the Ravens should not shy away from adding another young cornerback to a secondary that was depleted by the end of last season.
Offensively, the Ravens lost Devard Darling in free agency, leaving them with only three wide receivers on the roster with significant playing time on their resumes. Bringing in a big, physical receiver who can complement smaller, quicker receivers like Mark Clayton, Derrick Mason and Demetrius Williams would open up the offense. Offensive tackle is also a concern with Jonathan Ogden seriously considering retirement.
With all that said let’s take a look at some of the players the Ravens could potentially take a look at in the third-fourth round area. Remember, the Ravens gave up their third round pick as part of the Willis McGahee trade but it has been rumored they will receive a compensatory selection at the end of the round as a result of Adalius Thomas’ departure to free agency last year.
Tyvon Branch, cornerback/safety – Connecticut (5-foot-11, 204, 4.31) ~ Exceptional speed but has stiff hips and may need to make the move to safety in the NFL. Branch is a reliable tackler who is agressive against the run but has sub-par hands and tallied only three interceptions as a three-year starter.
Kendall Langford, defensive end – Hampton (6-foot-5, 287, 4.89) ~ Does not offer tremendous upside as a pass rusher but is very powerful at the point of attack and is a force against the run.
Jordy Nelson, wide receiver – Kansas State (6-foot-2, 217, 4.51) ~ Sure handed receiver who may not have the speed to stretch a defense but is tough and will make the difficult catch over the middle. Nelson also has deceptive quickness and can create some yards after the catch.
Orlando Scandrick, cornerback – Boise State (5-foot-10, 192, 4.32) ~ Tremendous athlete with considerable upside but does not always play up to his ability and gets beat more often than he should.
Other potential targets: Kirk Barton, offensive tackle ~ Ohio State, Beau Bell, middle linebacker, UNLV; Oniel Cousins, offensive tackle, UTEP; Chris Ellis, defensive end/outside linebacker, Virginia Tech (pictured left); Tony Hills, offensive tackle, Texas, Patrick Lee, cornerback, Auburn, Phillip Wheeler, middle linebacker, Georgia Tech
Get all of Matt’s latest on the NFL Draft at Press Box Online’s Football 101.