The Ravens' insistence on taking the best player rather than targeting their biggest need adds to the shroud of mystery that annually surrounds the organization heading into the NFL draft.

While draft pundits have been consistent in projecting the Ravens to use their 26th overall pick on either a wide receiver or a cornerback, general manager Ozzie Newsome has shown that he's not afraid to do the unexpected.


It would be foolish to dismiss the possibility that Newsome will use the pick to further bolster a position of perceived strength or even trade it to add to the team's middle-round draft haul.

Until April 30, the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, The Baltimore Sun will examine the Ravens' depth at each position, the potential of them adding to that spot early in the draft and some of the players who they could target.

The Ravens will enter the three-day draft with 10 picks: one in each of the first, second, third and sixth rounds, and three each in the fourth and fifth rounds.

We've already looked at running backsquarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line. Today, we'll examine the defensive line:

Defensive linemen under contract: Ends — Chris Canty, DeAngelo Tyson, Brent Urban, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christo Bilukidi, Steven Means, Zach Thompson. Tackles — Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Casey Walker.

Chances the Ravens draft a defensive lineman in first three rounds: Low. The Ravens have loaded up on defensive linemen in the past two drafts, taking Williams and Lewis-Moore in 2013 and Jernigan and Urban last year.

The trade of longtime stalwart Haloti Ngata and the free-agent departure of Pernell McPhee create some opportunities for others, but the Ravens have still accumulated some depth at the position.

If a defensive lineman that the Ravens graded highly falls to them early, all bets are off. But it's probably more likely that the Ravens take a defensive lineman later in the draft.

Possibly on Ravens' radar: Ends — Arik Armstead (Oregon), Ryan Delair (Towson), Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA), Preston Smith (Mississippi State). Tackles — Michael Bennett (Ohio State), Carl Davis (Iowa), Grady Jarrett (Clemson), Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma).

Outlook: This group was one of the team's strengths last year and team officials don't expect that to change, even with Ngata and McPhee now playing in the NFC North.

As long as he stays healthy, Jernigan should be fine stepping into Ngata's spot. Williams established himself as one of the best nose tackles in the league last season. Canty is solid and provides leadership and the Ravens are hopeful that Urban and Lewis-Moore will stay healthy and contribute. Guy and Tyson are also capable and experienced reserves.

General manager Ozzie Newsome believes in building his team from the inside out, so he's always looking for further opportunities to strengthen the defensive front. But that quest will probably take a backseat to adding more weapons on the offensive side of the ball, finding a pass rusher and bolstering the secondary.

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