The Ravens brass stated that they weren’t happy with the 2013 Baltimore Ravens in the “State of the Ravens” presser on Tuesday. As always, the team’s goal is to get better for next year, and that all begins with the NFL Draft.
As a part of our coverage here at Russell Street Report, we’ll be featuring the best prospects all across the board in any situation the Ravens might come across. Whether it’s a receiver in the first round, a quarterback in the sixth, or a guard in the third, we’ll cover the Ravens best options in any scenario.
Barring any trades, the team will pick in the middle of each round—so we’ll see who is available when the Ravens are on the clock and provide options that combine the team’s credo (“best available player”) with need.
Today, we’ll take a look at the interior linemen that the Ravens may draft in the first round. As Ozzie Newsome stated in the press conference, the front office is looking for some big-bodied guys between the tackles to take the offense to the next level. Due to a dearth of dominating centers, we’ll highlight just one center with a first-round grade along with two guards.
It’s doubtful that the war room goes in this direction in round one, but we’ve seen crazier things happen on draft day as the Ravens have frequently moved back in round 1 to acquire more picks.
Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas
The Arkansas Senior has the ideal size for a leader at the line and possesses good strength and build. Able to work well in pass protection and the run game, Swanson would be a solid fit on the Ravens O-Line. Gradkowski didn’t have the year we had hoped last season, but we have to remember that 2013 was his first full year at the helm, serving as Matt Birk’s replacement. I can see the Ravens bringing in another young player for competition, but it won’t be at pick 16 or 17.
If Ozzie Newsome decides to move back in round 1 this 4-year center would be a solid pick for Baltimore.
Cyril Richardson, Guard, Baylor
Here’s a guy that might catch the eye of Newsome and Co. Emerging as one of the most under-the-radar players in this draft, Richardson can play on the inside of the line in the NFL right away.
CBS Sports lists the senior at 6’5”, 340lbs—a size that would intrigue any NFL scout. Richardson’s skills rank among the best in this class. He is a bear on the line and his strength shows when he battles one-on-one against big defenders.
Like Swanson, the Ravens probably won’t go after Richardson where they currently stand. If they decide to move back into the 29-32 range, expect them to consider the Baylor guard. He looks the part, and has proven in his four years that he isn’t hesitant to go up against anyone with his impressive physique.
Here’s a piece from NFL.com on Richardson however that might turn some heads in the coming months.
Zach Martin, Tackle/Guard, Notre Dame
Martin is a tricky prospect. He’s the only interior player that I could actually see the Ravens taking at 16/17, but he hasn’t played at guard at the college level.
During his time with the Fighting Irish, he showed good strength, above-average head-to-head ability, and a good anticipation. He isn’t going to work at the Tackle position in the NFL due to his size (6’4”, 308). He lacks the ideal size and overall look for a pro-tackle, and the confidence putting him up against elite pass rushers would be iffy at best.
I think Martin fits what teams are looking for in a starting guard, but he’s a bit of a risk thanks to his lack of experience. Could the Ravens take him? Sure, but they have to realize that he is a “high-risk, high-reward” type of lineman.
NOTE: In the history of the Baltimore Ravens, they have only drafted one interior offensive lineman in the first round: Ben Grubbs a guard from Auburn.