By Matt Vensel
2:00 PM EDT, March 31, 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 interior offensive linemen.
Remember, I'm not saying the Ravens will take a center or a guard with their first-round pick. I'm just giving you a player whom they might consider if they decided to go that route. Here are four interior offensive linemen they could have in their sights:
Round 1: Mike Pouncey, Florida. The Ravens have reportedly met with Pouncey, the draft's top interior line prospect and the brother of Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. For whatever it's worth, Mike Pouncey is often linked to the Ravens in mock drafts, including my second of the offseason. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has said he wants to get back to running the rock in 2011, and one way to do that is by upgrading the offensive line with Pouncey. He could start off at guard and possibly move to center when Matt Birk walks away from the team.
Rounds 2-3: Orlando Franklin, Miami. The Ravens have visited with Baylor guard Danny Watkins, who could slide in the draft because he’s 26. It’s still unlikely Watkins will be on the board late in the second round, so the Ravens might consider Franklin, who has good size and athleticism. There is talk that Franklin, who played in 51 games at Miami but started only one at left tackle, projects as a budding blind-side protector. The Ravens could select Franklin and see if he blooms into a guard or a tackle.
Rounds 4-5: John Moffitt, Wisconsin. Moffitt is so slow, he makes Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody look like Usain Bolt. OK, that’s an exaggeration. Moffitt isn’t the most mobile lineman, but he’s a powerful run blocker who could move defensive linemen and linebackers out of Ray Rice’s way. Teams have also tinkered with moving him to center, where his lack of athleticism won’t hurt him as much.
Rounds 6-7: Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock. A two-year team captain who won the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award in 2010, Fusco is an intriguing small-school prospect who is no longer flying under the radar. A four-year starter at Slippery Rock, the reports say that Fusco has good size and strength and an excellent attitude. He didn’t look out of place at the Senior Bowl. The Ravens could draft him and let him learn from Birk for a year or two.
OK, your turn: Which player, if any, should the Ravens target at this position during draft weekend?
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