By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
8:00 AM EST, January 9, 2014
The NFL draft is four months away -- it got bumped back to May this year -- and the college football season just wrapped up. But that hasn’t stopped some draft analysts from putting out early mock drafts.
(It may seem a little too early to start thinking about all that, but the insatiable demand for draft information is undeniable. Watch. This blog post will be one of the most-clicked items on our website by lunchtime.)
General manager Ozzie Newsome said Wednesday that the Ravens will be looking for bigger, stronger offensive linemen, a sure-handed wide receiver and an athletic safety during the offseason. Draft analysts seem to agree, as four of the five mock drafts I checked out had the Ravens taking a wide receiver with the 16th or 17th overall pick -- it hinges on a coin flip -- and the other had them taking an offensive tackle.
Here are five college football players that five prominent draft analysts and national writers say the Ravens could consider in the first round of the draft -- it sounds as if Mike Evans might be one name that Ravens fans will want to remember.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports: Mike Evans, WR, Texans A&M. “The Ravens have deep threats at receiver with Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, but could use a larger, more physical talent for Joe Flacco to target,” he wrote. “Evans won't run a blazing 40-yard dash but he's fast enough with the aggressive nature to win contested throws and be a threat after the catch.”
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M. “Quarterback Joe Flacco must be protected for Baltimore's down-field passing game to take flight,” Miller wrote. “If left tackle is the pick, Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi offers the best value and most upside of the remaining players. He started at right tackle in 2013 but shows incredible athleticism and the footwork to make an easy transition to the blind side.”
Josh Norris of Rotoworld: Evans. “He is the best in the class at winning at the catch point and is very adept at working back toward his quarterback,” he wrote. “His yards after the catch are also an under discussed skill, since Evans takes many short screens for extended gains. Do not expect his short speed to be great in Baltimore, but you already knew that if you watched his tape. Don’t knock him twice for it.”
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated: Marqise Lee, WR, USC. “Nabbing a potential game-breaker in the middle of Round 1 would do wonders for Joe Flacco, the run game and the offense as a whole,” Burke wrote. “Lee bounced back from an injury-plagued season to star in USC’s bowl win. He has home-run potential whenever he catches the football, plus advanced capabilities as a route-runner.”
Todd McShay of ESPN: Evans. “Baltimore is a team that is always looking to take the best available player, but I think that more than anything this team needs to upgrade QB Joe Flacco's weapons this offseason, and Evans would do exactly that,” McShay wrote. “A former basketball player who has improved throughout his two seasons at Texas A&M, Evans has strong hands and is tough to beat in jump-ball situations.”
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