With the NFL Combine starting Thursday, The Sun takes a look at all the positions and assesses the Ravens' needs.
Where the Ravens stand: Eight of the Ravens' nine linebackers return. Terrell Suggs is coming off a Pro Bowl season that included 11 sacks. Ray Lewis is committed to returning for his 16th season. Jarret Johnson is entering the final year of his contract. The Ravens could open up the competition again at inside linebacker between Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden.
Chances that the Ravens draft a LB in first three rounds: High. It's become a priority to find a complimentary pass rusher to Suggs. The Ravens thought they had filled that need by using a second-round pick last year on Sergio Kindle, who missed all of last season with a head injury. This could be the year where the Ravens find the heir apparent to Lewis, but that's been said for the past three years.
Possibly on Ravens radar: Jabaal Sheard (Pittsburgh), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma), Justin Houston (Georgia) and Casey Matthews (Oregon).
Outlook: Sheard plays with speed, power and aggression – traits that the Ravens covet. But there are character concerns after he was arrested on assault charges for throwing a person through a window last July. Smith, who could be a steal if he slides into the second round, is an elite speed rusher who is considered very raw. Ayers and Beal are two other rushers who've been projected to go late in the first round or early in the second. If the Ravens are looking to find another leader in the middle, one of the best prospects in that area is Matthews. The brother of Clay, the runner-up for NFL defensive player of the year, Matthews could go anywhere from the second to fourth round.
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