When the Ravens make their first-round draft pick in two weeks, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicts they'll select a free safety or tight end.

Specifically, Louisville free safety Calvin Pryor and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron could be available and make sense for the Ravens, Kiper said in a conference call Wednesday.

Kiper doesn't envision Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan or Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin being available when the Ravens are on the clock with the 17th overall pick.

"Calvin Pryor, if he were there, would be a great pick," said Kiper, a Baltimore native. "Some people question his coverage ability. I don't. He's an enforcer, he's a hitter, he's a great kid who's a very consistent player. Zack Martin, I don't think will be there.

"I don't think there's any chance of Lewan being there. Matin, I have going a couple picks earlier. His stock has risen. I would say maybe Pryor and maybe Ebron if he gets past the Giants. That would be the realistic possibilities."

Pryor is an intimidating hitter with solid speed, and the Ravens have a need at free safety since they would ideally like to shift Matt Elam back to his natural strong safety position.

Ebron is a consensus All-American who caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns. He's more of a pass-catching tight end than a blocker and has 4.60 speed in the 40-yard dash.

He has visited the Ravens, but has been frequently linked to the New York Giants at No. 12, as well as the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.

“I think if Ebron gets by the Giants, I think he lands at Baltimore," Kiper said. "I think a tight end with that kind of ability catching the ball, he’s not going to block for you, but that ability catching the ball, Ebron is going to be attractive at No. 17. Maybe because he’s not a great blocker, maybe the Giants pass on him.

"That’s one thing he’s not going to help you with. He’s not going to block. He’s going to be a little inconsistent catching the ball, but he improved in that area this year. He’s not the toughest guy out there. You watch him and there are some opportunities he has to go up for the football and he goes up a little passively at times.”

Tight end is no longer a pressing need for the Ravens, though, since they retained Dennis Pitta with a five-year, $32 million contract and added Owen Daniels on a one-year, $1 million deal.

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak utilized three tight ends at times in his offense with the Houston Texans, so he could probably find a way to utilize Ebron should he wind up in Baltimore.

“I think Ebron is a talent,” Kiper said. “If you can maximize it, you’ve got a big-time pass catching, basically a glorified wide receiver with Ebron.”

The Ravens have been looking at Notre Dame's Troy Niklas, who's regarded as the top blocking tight end in the draft.

awilson@baltsun.com
twitter.com/RavensInsider