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A quick look way far ahead to the 2011 NFL draft

Give me an excuse to look ahead to the NFL draft, and I will gladly take it, even if we're only halfway through the Ravens' season. Based on the first dozen comments posted to my Tuesday column on the Ravens' decaying defense, it seems that there is some concern about increasing age and diminishing talent. There is also a fair amount of criticism regarding defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, but looking at super-early mock drafts is much more fun than talking about mock coaching carousels.

We're in luck. ESPN's Todd McShay released his first mock draft last week. He has the Ravens taking UCLA junior safety Rahim Moore with the 30th pick in the 2011 draft. Wrote McShay, "While he's not an elite talent like [Eric] Berry or [Earl] Thomas, Moore does have excellent range and ball skills in deep-zone coverage. The time has come for the Ravens to plan for life after Ed Reed."

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Based on the past few weeks, the position groups on the Ravens defense that could use reinforcements include cornerback, defensive end and inside linebacker (remember, Ray Lewis is 35).

A cornerback could be ripe for the picking in the first round. Scouts Inc. has five cornerbacks listed among its top 32 prospects, including Patrick Patterson, Prince Amukamara and Janoris Jenkins.

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At defensive end, Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward and Cameron Jordan are three players on Scouts Inc.'s list who fit the mold of a 3-4 defensive end capable of providing quarterback pressure.

Scouts Inc. had no inside linebackers on the list. Greg Jones, Kelvin Sheppard and Quan Sturdivant are three of Mel Kiper Jr.'s top senior prospects at the position, and Dont'a Hightower was his top underclassman.

Like I said, all this draft talk is way premature, especially since the Ravens defense has always bounced back in the past and there are young players with promise on the Baltimore roster. I just wanted to let you know which prospects the Ravens might be focusing on during the scouting process.

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