Despite the Ravens' emphasis on reinforcing their offense during the first week of free agency, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. still thinks they should address that side of the football during the first round of the NFL draft in May.
The Ravens have signed wide receiver Steve Smith to a three-year, $11 million deal, and re-signed tight end Dennis Pitta to a five-year, $32 million deal, wide receiver Jacoby Jones to a four-year, $14 million deal and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to a five-year, $37.5 million deal.
Prior to the Smith deal, Kiper attached Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Ravens in his latest mock draft. Cooks is a speedy smaller wide receiver often compared to Smith.
Kiper also mentioned Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Louisiana State wide receiver Odell Beckham and Southern California wide receiver Marqise Lee as potential draft targets for the Ravens. The Ravens have the 17th overall pick.
“It really doesn’t affect their first round,” Kiper said Thursday during a conference call. "I think you look at wide receiver, getting a true No. 1. Maybe it’s Mike Evans. He’s not going to be there at No. 17. If you want Mike Evans, you’re going to have to move up to get him. Eric Ebron, it’s borderline whether he’ll be there, the tight end from North Carolina. He’s a glorified receiver.”
Ebron was an All-American selection last season who caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns. He met with the Ravens at the NFL scouting combine.
In offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's offense, having two athletic tight ends could be a major asset for the Ravens.
“He’s a threat,” Kiper said of Ebron. “He’s a great, great receiving entity. I would think he’s there, but he could be gone. The one team that could look at him other than the Ravens are the New York Giants [12th overall]. They certainly could use an Eric Ebron. If he doesn’t go at 12, he probably will get to 17.”
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