By Jeff Zrebiec
7:00 AM EDT, May 7, 2014
Leading up to Thursday's NFL draft, The Sun will look at where the Ravens stand at each position, the likelihood that they will address that spot early in the draft and some of the prospects that they may consider.
The Ravens have eight total picks in the three-day draft: one in each of the first, second, fifth and sixth rounds, and two each in the third and fourth rounds.
Today we'll examine defensive backs:
Current defensive backs under contract: Cornerbacks –Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson; Safeties – Matt Elam, Darian Stewart, Jeromy Miles, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick, Omar Brown.
Chances that the Ravens draft a defensive back in first three rounds: High. It is viewed as almost a certainty that the Ravens will draft a safety on either Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft. They would love to move Elam to strong safety and find a fast and physical free safety with good ball skills to pair with last year’s first-round pick. There are several safeties that are expected to be taken in the first or second rounds and the Ravens have been on all of them. As for cornerback, it’s another definite need. Corey Graham’s departure in free agency leaves the Ravens without a proven commodity in the No.3 corner role and with only four corners on their roster. The Ravens will draft at least one. It’s just a matter of when.
Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Cornerbacks – Dexter McDougle (Maryland), Keith McGill (Utah), Bradley Roby (Ohio State); Safeties – Deone Bucannon (Washington State), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama), Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt), Calvin Pryor (Louisville), Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)
Outlook: Right tackle may be the Ravens’ biggest need, but the team is probably thinnest in the defensive backfield. Team officials have said that they would have no qualms about Stewart starting alongside Elam at safety, but they certainly want to add another option. If Clinton-Dix is there at 17 and that appears unlikely, it would be an obvious pick for the Ravens. It’s unclear how they feel about Pryor, though he’s projected to go in the middle of the first round and he’s probably been the player most connected to the Ravens in mock drafts. Ward and Bucannon are both candidates to be taken in the second round if the Ravens hadn’t added a safety by then. It also won’t be too long into the draft before the Ravens add another cornerback. Graham was a big loss and Brown and Jackson haven’t made convincing arguments the past couple of years that they are ready to occupy big roles behind starters Webb and Smith. It would be interesting to see if the Ravens would pounce if one of the draft’s top corners – Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard and Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert – are still there at 17. They’d, at the very least, have to be intrigued.
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