Draft day is getting closer and coming off their worst season of the decade, the Ravens have several glaring needs that must be addressed in order to get back into playoff contention.
Picking a quarterback in the first round seems to be the popular choice across the country. However I don’t see the Ravens reaching on either Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco so unless Matt Ryan slips, don’t expect the quarterback position to be addressed until later in the draft.
With Ryan likely going number three overall to the Falcons, there are a few different directions I could see the Ravens going with the eighth pick.
Leodis McKelvin, Troy – cornerback (5-foot-10, 190, 4.38)
The best cover corner in the draft, McKelvin excels at mirroring receiversâ€™ routes and breaking on the ball. While he lacks the natural hands to rack up interceptions, McKelvin reads and reacts quickly and does a good job getting his hands on the football. McKelvin is also a dangerous return man and tied an NCAA record with eight total kicks (seven punts, one kickoff) returned for touchdowns.
Mike Jenkins, South Florida – cornerback (5-foot-10, 197, 4.38)
While McKelvin plays more of a finesse game, Jenkins is known for his physical brand of play. Jenkins excels at playing close to the line of scrimmage and jamming receivers. His hips are a little stiff and he will struggle turning and running with some of the quicker receivers in the NFL, but has very good recovery speed and has the leaping ability to compete on jump balls. Despite his physical play in coverage, Jenkins is reluctant to come up and support the run and is not very aggressive in his tackling.
Sedrick Ellis, USC – defensive tackle (6-foot-1, 309, 5.32)
A stalwart on the defensive line, Ellis is able to quickly disengage from blocks and disrupt action in opposing backfields. While his 40-yard dash time was a little disappointing, Ellis displays good quickness and is strong enough at the point of attack to defeat the double team and hold his ground against the run. It may seem as though the Ravens don’t have a glaring need on their defensive line but once Trevor Pryce went down last year, the Ravens defense took a serious step back and struggled to generate pressure on the quarterback.
Without Pryce in, opposing teams were able to focus their attention on Terrell Suggs, limiting his production. Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan are solid backups but Pryce is not getting any younger and bringing in a young defensive lineman like Ellis would not only provide instant depth but it would give the Ravens a replacement for Pryce if he is gone after the 2008 season. Ellis is versatile enough to play end or tackle in either a 3-4 or 4-3 and he would give the Ravens some options considering their propensity for throwing different schemes at opponents. That said Ellis’ best fit is as a tackle in a 4-3.
Check back next week as I will take a look at some of the players that could be targets of the Ravens in the second round.