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Potential Ravens first-round draft target: Kevin Zeitler

Each day this week leading up to Thursday’s NFL draft, we will highlight one prospect whom the Ravens could draft with the 29th overall pick. Today’s player is Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, who started 36 games at right guard for the Badgers. He is seen as the draft’s second-best guard behind Stanford’s David DeCastro.

Background: Born and raised in Wisconsin, Zeitler, 22, was a two-time letter-winner in wrestling in high school and also participated in track and field. He became a fixture at right guard at Wisconsin, starting 36 of a possible 40 games in his final three seasons (he didn’t start in four games in 2010 due to a high ankle sprain).

Measurables: Zeitler has average size for a guard, tipping the scales at 315 pounds and measuring just under 6-4. He pumped 32 bench press reps at the combine, two fewer than DeCastro, the leader among linemen.

Deserves praise: A power blocker in the run game, Zeitler uses his strength to drive defenders and has the ability to get to the second level. He is also said to have plenty of football smarts, just like his teammate and fellow potential Ravens target Peter Konz. He also has a mean streak, something the Ravens like (see Marshal Yanda).

Needs work: He isn’t the quickest lineman and he struggles with speed rushers, so there are questions about how he would translate to Baltimore’s zone-blocking scheme. But overall, he appears to be a solid prospect.

Fun factoid: Zeitler reportedly scored a 33 on his pre-draft Wonderlic test (the average score is 21). He also won something called the “Badger Power Award” for the hard work he put in inside the weight room in 2010.

Quotable: “There’s been a great tradition of offensive linemen [at Wisconsin],” he recently told The Boston Globe. “We respect it. Nobody wants to be the guy that stops it. As a group, we try to work hard. It works.”

Why he makes sense: Zeitler had been projected to go in the first half of the second round, but some draftniks now say he could sneak into the first round. Do the Ravens like him enough to take him there? Or would they maybe try to slide back then draft him? Only those inside the Castle know, but he would immediately compete with Jah Reid for the starting left guard spot and quiet some of the concern about the departure of Ben Grubbs.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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