By Matt Vensel
7:30 AM EST, January 31, 2012
We are less than three months away from the 2012 NFL draft. We have plenty of Ravens draft coverage in the works, but we are focused on tying up the loose ends from the 2011 season. In the meantime, to quench your thirst for draft coverage, here is a quick roundup of players the Ravens are linked to in early mock drafts.
--- Mel Kiper, ESPN: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St. “He's been drawing comparisons to Ray Lewis since he got to Tempe, and hopefully Lewis will be around for another year to mentor Burfict,” Kiper wrote. “But either way, the Ravens have to consider what they'll do, as retirement talk now is a reality for their legendary linebacker, and Burfict is the kind of player who could develop into a star in his own right in that defense.”
Vensel’s take: A violent tackler with a mean streak on the field, Burfict has been compared to Lewis. He went to the same college as Terrell Suggs, though, and he may be better suited as an outside linebacker in the NFL. Either way, the Ravens need to inject more young talent into their linebacker corps.
--- Don Banks, SI.com: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. “With reliable center Matt Birk perhaps hanging it up after 14 seasons in the league, getting the highly regarded ex-Badger represents quality bottom-of-the-round value,” Banks wrote.
Vensel’s take: With Birk considering retirement and Andre Gurode a free agent, the Ravens may need a new center. Maybe it’s Justin Boren, who is already on the roster. If not, drafting the right center early would make sense.
--- Peter Schrager, FOX Sports: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia: “The Ravens could have a bit of work to do on their offensive line this offseason,” Schrager wrote. “If Glenn slipped all the way to 30th, Ravens fans from Pikesville to Parsonburg would be awfully happy. A 345-pound beast of a man who can play right away at the next level, Glenn’s a Day 1 NFL starter.”
Vensel’s take: Glenn played left tackle in 2011, but most draft analysts seem to think he fits better at guard. The Ravens will need help in the interior of the line if they can’t re-sign Ben Grubbs and if Birk opts to retire.
--- Wes Bunting, National Football Post: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. “The Ravens do a great job grooming young, talented defensive lineman who might be a bit raw, but have the talent to win in their 34 front. Poe might need some time, but long term could mature into one of the steals of the draft,” Bunting wrote.
Vensel’s take: The Ravens usually take the top prospect on their board regardless of position, but Haloti Ngata is in his prime, Terrence Cody is entering his third year and the team is high on Art Jones and Pernell McPhee.
--- Michael Fabiano, NFL.com: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State. “The Ravens need to improve their offensive line in the draft, which will be great news for the fantasy appeal of superstar running back Ray Rice,” he wrote. “Bryant McKinnie is not a long-term answer, and Adams can come right in and start at either right or left tackle.”
Vensel’s take: If the Ravens can get a player ranked as one of the top left tackles in the draft at pick No. 29, they should pull the trigger. McKinnie, 32, has one year left on his contract, and moving Michael Oher over to right tackle this season was a strong sign that the team doesn’t believe Oher can become a solid left tackle.
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