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With draft time approaching, it's a good opportunity to look at the probabilities and necesities for teams in the NFL, so let's take a look at the Baltimore Ravens draft needs and possibilities for the 26th overall pick of the draft. Going into the draft, the Ravens have very few GLARING holes to fill, but many flesh wounds to cover over and heal. Perhaps the biggest wounds are at WR and CB, while ILB and OL prove to be needs as well.

 

WR is perhaps the most evident and seemingly beneficial need. The Ravens need a legitimate deep threat while they have Derrick Mason on the roster. He fulfills the need of a possession receiver, and thus they need a receiver to stretch the field opposite Mason since Mark Clayton has been highly inconsistent recently. And the Ravens need to take advantage of Flacco's cannon arm. However, since Mason is in hid mid-late thirties, they also need to look into grooming a replacement for the possession role Mason fulfills. Thus, a WR with enough speed to get deep is just as valuable as having one with the techinical skills to rake in the catches and dominate the goal line. In this case, the Ravens need a mixture of the two. A WR with decent speed and relatively polished techinical skills will be able to go deep for them immediately upon joining the team, and then can be groomed to replace Mason in the future.

Another key position that could be a possibilty in the first round is CB. With the release of Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, the Ravens have left themselves with only Fabian Washington and Dominique Foxworth to start in the secondary. While Washington and Foxworth showed promise for starting roles with their teams last year, you can never know exactly how they will pan out. They could step in as starters and fail miserably (and I say this only because they are unproven as starters). It seems as thought the organization and many fans have faith in these two candidates, the depth of the CB position is very thin. Chris Carr was signed earlier this offseason, but Corey Ivy was released and only Derrick Martin, Evan Ogelsby, and a couple other relatively unporductive CBs. Judging from the unpredictability of the starters' production, the Ravens could use a young CB from the draft that could fulfill the need for depth this year and possibly step in as a dominant starter a little farther down the line.

Since Bart Scott bolted for NY, the Ravens have a spot to fill beside Ray Lewis at ILB. The thing that makes this position less of a dire need is the presence of young ILBs Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain. Gooden showed real promise in the preseason, and McClain displayed some skill on special teams as well as a situational player (2 sacks and 2 safeties). The Ravens have a knack for turning raw LBs into high-production beasts, and there isn't any reason they can't do that with one of the two prospects currently on the roster. However, there is always the chance that they could be failures, so a backup plan may be necessary. A better solution to this problem, however, would be to pick up a good LB prospect in later rounds and give McClain and Gooden the chance to prove themselves for a couple years before spending a first round pick on an ILB.

And last of their evident needs is OL. While the Ravens a mostly young, powerhouse line, injuries proved to decimate it somewhat throughout last year, and they were even forced to sign the aged Willie Anderson. Depth and a possible starter for the future wouldn't hurt, but a later round pick would be more likely for addressing this need on the O-line. When healthy, the O-line is quite a force to be reckoned with, so a later round pick for depth or a possible FA pickup could hold them over in the case that injuries plague them again next year. If injuries do not strike hard, then things will be great and a first round OL pick will seem foolish.

That is a pretty comprehensive summary of the needs of the Ravens in regard to their first round pick. Look for my next post where I'll look at some prospects that could address some of these needs in the first round.

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