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Examining Ravens' decision to cut Chase Ford, plus the latest draft talk

The Ravens' draft plans may include a quarterback. As for running back Ezekiel Elliott, their interest remains a mystery.

>> There have been a lot of questions about the Ravens' decision Tuesday to release tight end Chase Ford less than three weeks after he signed his $1.67 million restricted free agent tender. The move didn't cost them anything, as restricted free agent tenders aren't guaranteed. Ford would have had to make the team.

When they extended the low tender offer, they had a ton of question marks at tight end. They believed starter Crockett Gillmore needed both of his shoulders operated on and would miss a good chunk of training camp. They knew Nick Boyle was suspended for the first 10 games of 2016. They had yet to sign Benjamin Watson. Dennis Pitta's status was tenuous. Darren Waller's transition from wide receiver to tight end was still in its earliest stages.

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Ford, who had starting experience with the Minnesota Vikings, was an insurance policy. With Gillmore on schedule to be ready for camp and Watson on board, there wasn't really a need for Ford.

>> The Ravens have done their homework on several of the second-level quarterbacks in the draft, including Stanford's Kevin Hogan, Michigan State's Connor Cook and Michigan's Jake Rudock. They also worked out Georgetown quarterback Kyle Nolan. With Joe Flacco coming off a season-ending knee injury and Ryan Mallett a season away from free agency, this might be a year for the team to take another shot at a late-round developmental quarterback.

>>The NFL announced yesterday the 25 prospects who will be attending the draft in Chicago. Just about all the players linked to the Ravens with the sixth overall pick are due to attend, aside from Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner.

>>Like ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote yesterday, it's hard to imagine any scenario in which the Ravens exercise the fifth-year option for 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam. It's not a given, at least in my mind, that Elam even makes the regular-season roster to start the 2016 season. He'll come to training camp as the fourth or fifth safety behind Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, Kendrick Lewis and perhaps even Terrence Brooks.

Exercising his 2017 option, a decision that the Ravens would have to make by May 2, would pay Elam in the neighborhood of $6 million. That's far too much for a player who has struggled throughout his young career.

>> James Hurst might not be the solution as the team's primary backup at offensive tackle. If the Ravens do indeed plan on keeping Eugene Monroe as the starting left tackle, they probably need an upgrade over Hurst.

However, Hurst figures to at least get a look at guard this summer. The Ravens are thin right now at guard following Kelechi Osemele's departure. John Urschel is the projected starter at left guard, which would leave Ryan Jensen as the top backup for not only Urschel and starting right guard Marshal Yanda, but for center Jeremy Zuttah.

The Ravens will likely use one or two of their nine picks on the offensive line, but if Hurst can handle playing guard, he could find his way back on the regular-season roster.

>> Do the Ravens have legitimate interest in Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott? That's a question many in the industry are asking, and there is no consensus.

There are those who believe the Ravens are feigning interest, hoping one of the teams that needs a running back – such as the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 8 and the Miami Dolphins at 13 – feels like it needs to get in front of them to grab Elliott. Moving back a couple of spots, picking up another pick or two and then still getting a player that they covet is always a scenario that the Ravens seek.

Then there are those who believe Elliott would be the vintage Ozzie Newsome "best player available" pick, a powerful three-down running back who would thrive in the AFC North.

For their part, the Ravens aren't saying. I've been skeptical all along that the Ravens would pull the trigger on Elliott, but such a move would be typical Ravens.

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