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Leading up to the NFL Draft â€“ which takes place April 28-29 â€“ there have been, and will be, a plethora of mock selections made for the Baltimore Ravensâ€™ pick at No.29 in the first-round.
Based on which players were left on the board at the time of the 29th selection, I assigned a yay or nay to the picks projected by the national prognosticators identified below. My yay or nay for each of the selections considered need versus the best player available on the prognosticator’s board while keeping open the possibility that a given player could fit both criteria.
PROGNOSTICATOR: Pat Kirwin from NFL.com
RAVENS PICK: DE/LB Anthony Spencer, Purdue.
Other players on the board: Justin Blalock (G), Ben Grubbs (G), Aaron Sears (T/G), Tony Ugoh (T), Tim Crowder (LB/DE), David Harris (ILB), Eric Wright (CB), Dwayne Bowe (WR), Dwayne Jarrett (WR)
MY OBSERVATIONS: I canâ€™t see the Baltimore brass passing on two of the top interior prospects to take Spencer. While Spencer may be the flashiest tweener pash rusher available, it is debatable how much better he is than prospects like Tim Crowder, Charles Johnson (Georgia) and Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame); players that could be had in round two. Conversely, there is a bit of a drop off between Blalock and Grubbs, and the next best prospects at the same position.
VERDICT: Nay: The pick would be Justin Blalock from Texas. He is exactly the type of player the Ravens need to improve the power and punch lost in the run-blocking scheme. Blalockâ€™s natural position appears to be on the inside at guard, although he possesses the versatility to play right tackle in a pinch.
PROGNOSTICATOR: Scott Wright from nfldraftcountdown.com
RAVENS PICK: OT Joe Staley, Central Michigan.
Other players on the board: Lawrence Timmons (OLB), Ben Grubbs (OG), Dwayne Jarrett (WR), Ryan Kalil (C), Anthony Spencer (OLB), Justin Harell (DT), Marcus McCauley (CB), Eric Wright (CB), Brandon Meriweather (S), Tony Ugoh (OT), Justin Blalock (G), David Harris (ILB), Aaron Sears (T/G)
MY OBSERVATIONS: If the board fell as Wright projected, members of the front office would be doing cartwheels in the war room. Given the amount of talent still left at a multitude of positions, it would be hard to imagine that the Ravens would take Staley. Staley has been a favorite pick for Baltimore in many mock drafts, but quite frankly, he does not fit the profile of a tackle that the team may select. Why would the team draft another pure left tackle and try to convert him to the right side?
VERDICT: Nay: This is a no-brainer. Timmons (from Florida State) is the pick all the way. This is a case of stealing the best player left on the board. Granted, he may not have the size to play right away in Baltimoreâ€™s 3-4 scheme. But in a year or two, he could take over as the heir apparent to Ray Lewis at middle linebacker.
PROGNOSTICATOR: Clark Judge from CBS Sportsline
PICK: OG Justin Blalock, Texas.
Other players on the board: Brandon Meriweather (S), Dwayne Jarrett (WR), Ben Grubbs (G), Joe Staley (OT), Aaron Sears (OT/G), David Harris (ILB), Joe Staley (OT), Eric Wright (CB)
MY OBSERVATIONS: Clearly, Blalock is the best prospect remaining out of the bunch.
VERDICT: Yay: This pick makes perfect sense. To find out why, see Blaylock above.
PROGNOSTICATOR: Don Banks of CNNSI
PICK: Justin Blalock OG, Texas.
Other players on the board: Tedd Ginn, Jr. (WR), Robert Meachem (WR), Justin Harrell (DT), Ben Grubbs (OG), Brandon Meriweather (S), David Harris (ILB, Aaron Sears (OT/G), Anthony Spencer (DE/LB), Eric Wright (CB)
MY OBSERVATION: I canâ€™t see Ginn, Jr. being available at this spot, but it would be quite intriguing if he were. Although there are concerns that Ginn, Jr. is not completely healthy, one would think that he is still worth taking a risk on in the latter stages of the first-round. The former Buckeye is one of the most explosive players in the draft class, as he has the ability to make plays as a big-play receiver and punt/kick returner. As was the case with Timmons, Ginn would not fill a need, but he would be the highest player left on the board, so would Baltimore pull the trigger on him?
VERDICT: Nay: I’ll concede that Banks gets this one right although the pick should be Ginn, Jr. instead of the powerhouse guard from Texas. One could look at the selection of this talented wideout as overloading an already strong position on the roster. However, with the potential departure of Derrick Mason in a year or two due to impending salary cap restraints, and the lack of depth behind the Ravensâ€™ big three (Mason, Mark Clayon and Demetrius Williams), this move could pays dividends in the future.