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Taking DeForest Buckner would represent best player available over need for Ravens

Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (44) is seen during the first half against Eastern Washington on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Eugene, Ore.
Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (44) is seen during the first half against Eastern Washington on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Eugene, Ore. (Ryan Kang / Associated Press)

You've heard plenty about Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey and Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

But in recent days, there is another prospect who is starting to get connected to the Ravens more and more in mock drafts: Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner. On Wednesday, the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, a former Ravens scout, became the latest analyst to have the Ravens using the sixth overall pick on Buckner, an extremely athletic 6-foot-7, 281-pound interior defensive lineman.

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Jeremiah's explanation was that the Ravens traditionally take the best player available, and Buckner has a "high ceiling and a high floor."

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay ranks Buckner as the sixth-best player in the draft. His colleague, Mel Kiper Jr., ranked Buckner as the fourth-best player in the draft and called him a lock top-10 pick as long as he did well in workouts. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network says that Buckner is the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. Pro Football Focus has him as the second-best player in the draft, behind only Ohio State's Joey Bosa.

So, it clearly would not be a reach if the Ravens used their first-round pick on Buckner, who was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the Ducks this past season. However, on the surface, the selection certainly wouldn't fill any of the Ravens' four biggest needs: offensive tackle, pass rusher, defensive back and wide receiver.

Buckner can rush the passer. He had 10½ sacks for Oregon during the 2015 season and that's the part of his game that evaluators say that he has improved the most in. However, he's just not the prototypical edge rusher that the Ravens figured to add this offseason.

And the Ravens, who will likely let veteran defensive end Chris Canty go in the coming weeks, seemingly have some interior defensive linemen that can get after the quarterback. Timmy Jernigan has eight sacks over his first two seasons, and the organization feels that Brent Urban will become a pass-rushing threat if he can stay healthy. The Ravens also like the potential of Carl Davis, a third-round pick last year.

Buckner, though, would certainly solidify the defensive line for years to come. He's stout against the run and his 17 tackles for loss this past season are proof of that. He plays with great energy and aggression, qualities that the Ravens coaches are always talking about. He has gotten better every year, and he already has an NFL-type body and physique.

Make no mistake, Buckner would immediately improve the Ravens defensive line. But that's one area that is already pretty good.

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