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Ebron not the only tight end in draft that could help Ravens

INDIANAPOLIS - To many NFL draft pundits, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron is a Vernon Davis-like talent.

He's athletic. He consistently made big plays in college. He isn't considered an especially strong blocker, but pundits feel he has the potential to be a Davis-like difference maker as a pass-catcher in the NFL.

He could very well be the Ravens' pick at No. 17 in the first round if he is available, but he's not the only tight end in this year's draft that could help Baltimore.

The Ravens want to add weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco.

They could sign a wide receiver or take one early in the draft. They are also interested in adding a tight end even if they manage to retain impeding free agent Dennis Pitta.

And fortunately for Baltimore and other teams looking for a tight end, this draft class includes several tight ends that teams think have the potential to be big contributors.

"It's a really good tight end group," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I don't think you'll be disappointed with any of them, and it looks like you can get a good one in any of the rounds."

Harbaugh has started watching film of some of the top tight ends in the draft. One he likes so far is Troy Niklas from Notre Dame.

Niklas began college as an outside linebacker, but switched to tight end as a sophomore in 2012 and started each of the last two years. He is 6-foot-6, 270 pounds.

"I think what he is, if he commits to becoming a good in-line blocker, he could be the best blocking tight end in the NFL in two or three years," NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock said during a national conference call, later adding, "he's [also] a better receiver than people think."

However, Niklas is projected as more of a second-round pick.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Washington and Jace Amaro from Texas Tech are two tight ends aside from Ebron that could be of interest to Baltimore as early as pick No. 17.

Former NFL scout Bucky Brooks compared Seferian-Jenkins' skill set to that of New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.

Seferian-Jenkins is 6-5, 262. And to Brooks, he may be the most complete tight end in this year's draft.

"Think about a guy that's your more traditional, put your hand in the dirt, three-down tight end," Brooks said. "He's a guy that can block but can also control the middle of the field."

Seferian-Jenkins only had 36 catches in 2013, but he helped running back Bishop Sankey rush for 1,820 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also still had eight touchdown catches, and he had 69 catches for 852 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.

Should the Ravens re-sign Pitta, Brooks thinks Seferian-Jenkins would complement Pitta better than Ebron or Amaro would within a Gary Kubiak offense that is expected to feature a lot of two-tight end formations.

That's not to say Baltimore wouldn't draft Ebron or Amaro if Pitta is back, but Amaro would likely be of even more interest to the Ravens if Pitta signs somewhere else.

Amaro is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and had 106 catches for 1,352 yards and seven TDs at Texas Tech in 2013.

"He's a threat," Ebron said. "He's just a mismatch threat. He's too big. He's fast. He catches everything. That's why he's here. Jace is a great player."

C.J. Fiedorowicz, who some draft analysts have said is like a poor man's Gronkowski, could also be of interest to Baltimore at some point during the first three or four rounds.

So could Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch. Lynch only had 54 catches during his final two years at Georgia. But, like Niklas, he is highly thought of as a run blocker.

"I think it might be one of the deepest [tight end classes] ever, especially in the last 10 years," Amaro said, later adding, "They're all great players, and they all bring a little bit something else to the table."

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