Each day leading up to the NFL Combine, the Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg will blog about a different position, assess the Ravens needs, and evaluate whether or not the Ravens might use an early pick on that position, and if they did, whom it might be. Next up on the list: Cornerbacks
Ravens needs: Lardarius Webb's fluke ACL tear late in the season was one of the worst things that could have happened to the Ravens because, against all odds, the secondary actually looked pretty good late in the year. Domonique Foxworth overcame a shaky start to the season and was playing well and Webb looked like more than a solid starter; he looked like a future star. Had the Ravens been able to begin the 2010 season with Foxworth and Webb lining up on opposite sides of the field, the defense would have been in great shape. Webb's knee injury, however, creates all kinds of question marks. ACL injuries, even with modern medicine, don't heal overnight. Especially for a cornerback, a position you have to change direction at top speed constantly. Even if Webb is ready for training camp, the chances that he'll be 100 percent healthy right away aren't great. Fabian Washington's ACL injury further muddies the issue, since he wasn't exactly Deion Sanders prior to getting hurt.
Best Players Available: Joe Haden, Florida; Kyle Wilson, Boise State; Syd'Quan Thompson, Cal; Kareem Jackson, Alabama; Donovan Warren, Michigan; Patrick Robinson, Florida State; Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest; Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State; Javier Arenas, Alabama;
Analysis: There is actually some decent depth in this class or cornerbacks, although cornerbacks, like receivers are a bit of a dice roll. The NFL is a passing league these days, and the league has made it clear they're going to make it as difficult as possible for defenses to dominate, which is why having young, athletic cover guys who can run is such an advantage. The Ravens almost have to go after a corner in the first three rounds, but outside of Haden (who will be gone within the first 10 picks) there are a lot of questions. Wilson had a great performance at the Senior Bowl, and is soaring up mock drafts. Robinson has good size, speed, and outstanding footwork, but he didn't have the senior year some predicted he would. Syd'Quan Thompson was an excellent college corner, but he's only 5-foot-9. Jackson has good size, but average speed. His 40 time will be critical at the combine. Arenas was a great blitzer and playmaker in college, but he's also on the small side (5-9). If Wilson is there at No. 25, he might be a steal in the long run.
Chances the Ravens pick a cornerback in the first round: If Wilson has a great combine and is still there, the Ravens should seriously consider it. He's a winner and he has confidence that borders on cockiness, but in a good way. If he's gone, they should wait. There is enough depth to grab someone in round two or three.