MOBILE, Ala. — This may be as deep and talented of an NFL draft class in a long time, thanks largely to the record number of underclassmen that entered this year’s draft.
And to multiple people in the scouting community, including former Ravens executive Phil Savage and former NFL scout Bucky Brooks, this is a draft that is strong at some of Baltimore’s primary areas of need.
The Ravens’ brass has voiced a desire to add weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco, whether that be at wide receiver or tight end.
General manager Ozzie Newsome has also said that Baltimore wants to get bigger along the interior of the offensive line and to add an athletic, playmaking safety to go along with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam.
The Ravens may also be in the market for a new right tackle with Michael Oher likely to leave as a free agent, and they could need a new left tackle as well if they are unable to re-sign Eugene Monroe.
But whether it’s wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle or offensive guard, it looks like there should be players available throughout the draft that can help Baltimore.
“When you factor in the juniors, they’ll be able to get a wide receiver pretty much in any round I think,” Savage said. “Tight end-wise, from the junior standpoint, those guys coming into it, that really strengthens this group overall. And then offensive line-wise, again, because most of these players do come back for their senior year, they’ll have some options there at tackle.”
Eleven wide receivers were selected during the first three rounds of last year’s draft. NFLDraftScout.com has 18 receivers projected to go in the first three rounds this year.
“In particular at wide receiver, they can get whatever they’re looking for,” Brooks said. “If they want a big guy that can replace what Anquan Boldin was in the middle, there’s certainly enough big guys like that.
“There are also the explosive catch-and-run playmakers that can complement what Torrey Smith does.”
At tight end, Eric Ebron from North Carolina and Jace Amaro from Texas Tech may be of interest to the Ravens as early as the first round, and Brooks thinks that Troy Niklas from Notre Dame and Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Washington could also be fits for Baltimore during the first two rounds.
As far as the offensive line, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. has six offensive tackles listed on their most recent top-32 list.
“Jake Matthews [from Texas A&M] is going to go very high, so that will push a couple of other guys down,” Savage said.
There are also guards like Cyril Richardson from Baylor and Gabe Jackson from Mississippi St. that could help the Ravens get bigger along the interior of the offensive line.