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 and wide receivers. Today we'll examine tight ends:


Tight ends under contract: Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Phillip Supernaw, Allen Reisner, Konrad Reuland

Chances the Ravens draft a tight end in first three rounds: Low. It's not that the Ravens don't need a tight end, because they do. They actually need one badly after the departure of veteran Owen Daniels and with the continued uncertainty about whether Pitta will be able to return from a second hip surgery.

However, this is a really weak draft for tight ends. Most projections have just two or three tight ends going in the first three rounds. Owner Steve Bisciotti and director of college scouting Joe Hortiz have talked about targeting a tight end in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.

Possibly on Ravens' radar: Jeff Heuerman (Ohio State), Jesse James (Penn State), Nick O'Leary (Florida State), Tyler Kroft (Rutgers), Clive Walford (Miami), Maxx Williams (Minnesota)

Outlook: Williams, the consensus top tight end, would probably be a reach at No. 26, yet he might not be on the board when the Ravens prepare to make their second-round pick. That is the dilemma that the Ravens face; if they don't take one of the few touted tight ends early, they're going to struggle to find an upgrade at the position in the draft.

However, team officials appear content with that reality. They have expressed confidence in Gillmore, a third-round pick last year, stepping into a bigger role and remain hopeful about Pitta's status.

It's not impossible that the Ravens move around a little bit early in the draft and get in position to nab Williams or Walford. However, the plan appears to be to draft an unheralded prospect in the later rounds.

The Ravens also are monitoring the health of free agent tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Zach Miller as well.