Top candidate to replace Edwards is in the draft

Dwan Edwards signed a four-year deal with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, which leaves one open starting spot on the Ravens.

The Ravens could fill that void at defensive end immediately by either promoting someone from within (perhaps Paul Kruger) or signing a free agent. But I see the best option sitting in the draft -- Jared Odrick, the 6-foot-5, 301-pound prospect from Penn State.


Odrick, who played defensive tackle in college but projects to be an end in a 3-4 defense, would be the best fit for the Ravens. His quickness and toughness meshes in with the Ravens' personality on defense.

He would also represent an upgrade over Edwards. The tenacious team leader was named 2009 Big Ten defensive player and defensive lineman of the year.

Odrick is expected to last into the bottom half of the first round, and the Ravens can only hope that he falls to them at No. 25.

Here's some options on how to fill the void at defensive end:

Promote from within

The ideal situation is Paul Kruger bulks up and grabs hold of the spot, a scenario addressed by The Sun's Ken Murray. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said that Kruger could play defensive end at 275 pounds. Kruger was listed at 260 pounds.

Kruger wouldn't have to handle the entire workload. Trevor Pryce, who is entering his 14th season, played in passing situations last year. The Ravens' other options also involve players who would be considered undersized for defensive end: Jarret Johnson, Jameel McClain and Antwan Barnes.

Sign a free agent

Even though the first two weeks of free agency has seen the top free-agent defensive ends get signed (Julius Peppers, Aaron Kampman and Kyle Vanden Bosch), there's some solid options still available. And at this point in free agency, the Ravens probably could get one at a favorable price.

Here are some free-agent defensive ends who could interest the Ravens: Chicago's Adewale Ogunleye, New England's Derrick Burgess, New Orleans' Charles Grant, Miami's Jason Taylor and Oakland's Greg Ellis. Burgess is an intriguing option because he played in 3-4 schemes in New England and Oakland.

AP photo of Jared Odrick by Michael Conroy / March 1