The NFL Scouting Combine is over, and the only thing that stands between now and the NFL draft are teams’ respective pro days. This is a showcase for skilled position players, but generally doesn’t help their stock as far as the Baltimore Ravens’ needs go (linebackers, defensive linemen, and safeties).
With the draft just 56 days away, general manager Ozzie Newsome and Co. are continuing their preparations for one of the biggest days of the year.
Will Newsome and the rest of the front office strike gold again?
The Ravens will be drafting at No. 32 this year, and that could lead to some issues come draft day. After all, with 31 picks before, anything can happen. Because of this, mock drafts have been scattered all over the place concerning the Ravens’ pick.
Let’s take a look at what the experts are projecting with less than two months to go before day one of the draft.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports (Kevin Minter, Linebacker, LSU): “Ray Lewis isn’t just a Hall of Famer, he’s proven to be the lifeblood of the Ravens for much of his career and walks out as a Super Bowl champion. With Dannell Ellerbe and Darryl Blackstock each slated for free agency, the Ravens could be in the market for help at inside linebacker. Minter wasn’t as impressive at the combine as he was on tape, measuring in smaller (6-0, 242) and slower (4.81) than scouts had hoped. However, he enjoyed one of the greatest seasons by any inside linebacker in LSU history with 130 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss in 2012. General manager Ozzie Newsome has made a career out of “rescuing” falling stars and could be in position to do precisely that again with Minter.”
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports (Manti Te’o Linebacker, Notre Dame): “The Ravens are World Champions, but they also have needs all over their defense, including at middle linebacker where Ray Lewis leaves a gaping hole. Te’o certainly has a lot of question marks regarding all the off-field hoopla but would offer good value with the final pick in the first round.”
WalterFootball.com (Johnathan Hankins, Nose Tackle, Ohio State): “This pick is all about figuring out which player will fall to the Ravens. Ozzie Newsome frequently scoops up plummeting prospects, and there’s no reason to believe that this year will be any different. The tumbling prospect could easily be Johnathan Hankins because he looked sluggish at the Combine and consequently ran slowly.
Terrence Cody is a bust. He was playing behind Ma’ake Kemoeatu in his third season. Kemoeatu is a 34-year-old free agent, so the Ravens may want to bring in a new nose tackle this offseason.”
Gil Brandt, NFL.com (Manti Te’o, Linebacker, Notre Dame): “His 40 time (4.82 seconds) was not very impressive, but I think Te’o (6-1 1/4, 241) plays a lot faster than that mark indicates. He was just too productive in college to not make it into the first round.”
Yahoo! Sports (Kevin Minter, Linebacker, LSU): “Now that Ray Lewis has retired from the team he defined, the Ravens need a lot of help at inside linebacker. Actually, it could be argued, they needed a lot of help there before Lewis retired, especially against the pass. Minter plays the run better than Manti Te’o (and every other linebacker in this class), and he’s mobile enough to make plays on slants and screens.”
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated (Alec Ogletree, Linebacker, Georgia): “For now, until he runs a better 40 at his pro day, I’m working under the assumption that Manti Te’o might have dropped himself out of first-round contention with that 4.82 in the 40 at the combine. Ogletree has character issues that make teams wary, including a recent DUI, but Baltimore isn’t afraid to take chances on a special player with a red flag or two.”