Center of attention: Florida's Pouncey will be Ravens' top pick -- maybe

Heading into one of the deepest drafts in recent memory (thanks to a bumper crop of juniors), the Ravens have just five draft picks to use on these budding NFL prospects.

We know how much Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome treasures those draft picks, so trading back in the draft — or dealing away a productive player such as offensive tackle Jared Gaither or running back Willis McGahee — to acquire more selections is a very likely scenario. But as Newsome said last week, "you've got to have a trading partner."

Knowing Newsome, though, the phones over at the Castle will be ringing off the hook all weekend. And whether he trades away pick No. 25 or another asset, you can be sure he'll do something to acquire more selections.

But if the Ravens don't find any takers?

"If the phone doesn't ring, then you have to pick," Newsome said.

Let's pretend the phone lines go dead and the Ravens can't add more selections. Here are my educated guesses as to whom they would take with their picks in this weekend's draft:

Maurkice Pouncey
C/G | Florida
There might be an audible groan throughout the city if the Ravens select Pouncey (above, photo by AP). A center? How unsexy! But the Florida junior is one of the draft's most rock-solid prospects and is the best center prospect since Nick Mangold in 2006. Pouncey is strong enough and stout enough to take on big nose tackles, which is vital in the 3-4 heavy AFC North. He is smart and versatile. He can help the Ravens now at right guard (especially if the team trades Gaither and moves Marshal Yanda to right tackle), then eventually take over for Matt Birk when his contract runs out in 2011.
Other names to remember: DE Jared Odrick, CB Kyle Wilson, WR Demaryius Thomas

Taylor Price
WR | Ohio
ESPN's draft gurus seem to think the Ravens will select speedy but unpolished Demaryius Thomas in the first round. But if they pass, Price is an attractive fall-back plan in Round 2. He's fearless, hard-working and durable — that sounds like someone who "plays like a Raven" — but the 6-foot-tall burner has the vertical speed the Ravens offense needs to blow the top off of the opponent's coverage.
Other names to remember: DT Terrence Cody, DE Corey Wooton, CB Chris Cook

Devin Ross

Cornerback is definitely a need for the Ravens, but it isn't as pressing if Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington are on track with their injury rehab. Ross may not be the biggest guy, but he's fast and fluid, and can hold his own in man-to-man coverage. He can also help out with the return game.
Other names to remember: TE Tony Moeaki, RB LeGarrette Blount, DE Clifton Geathers

Torell Troup
NT | Central Florida

The Ravens must inject some youth into their defensive line. Troup is a project player, but he's big and bulky, capable of occupying multiple blockers at the point of attack.
Other names to remember: WR Jacoby Ford, C J.D. Walton, CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Nate Byham
TE | Pitt

Byham was overshadowed by fellow Pitt tight end Dorin Dickerson, who was a star in spandex at the combine. The Ravens crave a pass-catching tight end — something they'll have to wait to address next year — but they need a blocking tight end, too. Byham, one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft, will make their rushing attack even better.
Other names to remember: DE George Selvie, WR Danario Alexander, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim


Matt Vensel is a content creator for b. Follow him on Twitter, @mattvensel.