By Matt Vensel
7:00 AM EDT, April 26, 2012
I love mocking, which is why I have produced five first-round mock drafts in the past two months (and it’s why I have greeted your criticism of said mock drafts with an aw-shucks shrug of the shoulders). In my latest first-round mock, which was released Tuesday night, I had the Ravens selecting Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower with the 29th pick in the NFL draft. Why stop there? How about I project all eight of their picks?
These projections are mostly speculation, forged by reading between the lines of press conference transcripts, following trends of how they operate in the draft, and conversations I have had my fiancée, a New England native who thinks Randy Moss still plays for the Patriots and goes on tandem bicycle rides with Tom Brady through the streets of Boston. In other words, don’t take these as gospel. These are just semi-educated guesses.
So without further ado, here is my full Ravens mock draft (and feel free to mock me in the comments section).
Round 1 (pick No. 29): Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama. Hightower is not the second coming of Ray Lewis, but he has the size, strength and savvy to be an impact player on the inside. He has experience playing in a 3-4 scheme, and he is probably capable of lining up at outside linebacker if the Ravens need him to do so. Will the Ravens have to move up to get him? Possibly. But with eight picks they have the ammunition to make a move.
Round 2 (pick No. 60): Kelechi Osemele, OG/T, Iowa State. At six-foot-five and 330 pounds, Osemele is a mountainous man, but he moves pretty well for his size and can play both guard spots or maybe right tackle at the NFL level. He has a mean streak, which the Ravens like their offensive linemen have (see Marshal Yanda). He is definitely on the Ravens’ radar, but it’s unclear how high they have him pegged on their draft board.
Round 3 (pick No. 91): Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati. Pead, a shifty back with third-down capabilities, turned heads at the Senior Bowl as a kick returner. The Ravens want a return specialist, but Pead would also provide insurance should the Ray Rice situation get ugly (not that I expect that to happen). The Ravens checked Pead out at a private workout. And then there are John Harbaugh’s ties to the Bearcats. This is a name to remember.
Round 4 (pick No. 130): David Molk, C, Michigan. The Ravens have been heavily linked to Wisconsin center Peter Konz. But what happens if they don’t take him with their first selection? Molk would be a great fit. He comes with significant injury concerns, but he was healthy in 2011 and won the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top center. Molk has the agility and athleticism to play in their zone blocking scheme.
Round 5 (pick No. 164): Cam Johnson, OLB/DE, Virginia. Another player the Ravens have gotten face time with during the draft process, Johnson could slip because injuries limited his production at the college level. He is strong enough to set the edge against the run and he totaled 10.5 sacks the past two seasons. There are questions about how he would fit in their scheme -- is he mobile enough to play linebacker? -- but he can play.
Round 5 (pick No. 169): Trent Robinson, S, Michigan State. Robinson is undersized at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, but he isn’t afraid of contact. He has pretty good range as a deep safety and at times flashed the ability to cover man-to-man in college. He was also a team captain. The Ravens could use a safety who can take away a sizable chunk of the field in case Ed Reed gets injured (or abruptly retires between now and training camp).
Round 6 (Pick No. 198): Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina. With all due respect to Jones, he is a poor man's Stephen Hill in terms of freakish potential, but his production (1,196 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011) dwarfs that of Hill. He is a tall target (6-foot-3) with above-average straight-ahead speed. He should be able to chip in right away, and with a couple years of quality coaching, he might become something special.
Round 7 (pick No. 236): Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, NT, Baylor. The Ravens could use a little bit of depth on their defensive line after losing Cory Redding and Brandon McKinney in free agency, and they will probably use one of their eight selections on a defensive linemen. Jean-Baptiste is a stout nose tackle, a wide body to run around, but he also was able to generate penetration at Baylor. He had 8.5 tackles for a loss in the 2011 season.
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