By Matt Vensel
10:00 AM EST, February 23, 2011
In the weeks leading up to April's NFL draft, I will highlight four players at each position whom the Ravens could target at different stages in the draft -- from their top pick to their Mr. Irrelevant. In this post, I will focus on outside linebackers.
Please note that I am not saying the Ravens will take a linebacker with their first-round pick, for example. I'm just giving you a player whom they might consider if they decided to go that route.
Here are four outside linebackers whom the Ravens could have in their sights:
Round 1: Justin Houston, Georgia. The Ravens will consider taking a pass rusher in the first round if they can't count on contributions from Sergio Kindle, and Houston is an intriguing option who should be there at No. 26. The former defensive end had seven sacks as a sophomore, and after the Bulldogs switched to the 3-4 defense before the 2010 season, he racked up 10 more as an outside linebacker. Houston is decent against the run, too, a must here in Baltimore.
Rounds 2-3: Brooks Reed, Arizona. Dubbed Thor by one ESPN blogger, Reed turned heads during the Senior Bowl festivities. At 6-foot-2 and 257 pounds, the former Wildcats H-back and defensive end has the size and speed to convert to outside linebacker in the pros. And he has Clay Matthews hair, which can only help.
Rounds 4-5: K.J. Wright, Mississippi State. A strong tackler with above-average athleticism, Wright was a tackling machine in his college career with 254 tackles. But he only had eight sacks in his career, so based on production alone, it seems unlikely he'll fill a need as Terrell Suggs' wingman. And that's OK. Jarret Johnson is 29, so another jack of all trades might come in handy for the Ravens.
Rounds 6-7: Mark Herzlich, Boston College. Herzlich's bout with cancer was well-documented, but the Boston College product was healthy and productive this past year after sitting out the entire 2009 season. I'm sure some teams see his health history as a red flag, but Herzlich has size, speed and smarts. The Ravens have shown they aren't afraid to draft players with health concerns, though the jury is out on Kindle and Paul Kruger.
OK, your turn: Which player, if any, should the Ravens target at this position during draft weekend?
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