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Ravens news, notes and opinions on Nick Mangold, pre-draft news conference

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome talks about drafting the "best player" available, even if that is a quarterback. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

That free agent center Nick Mangold left the Under Armour Performance Center on Wednesday without signing a deal wasn't all that surprising and it certainly doesn't mean the Ravens have completely moved on from the veteran.

The two sides will stay in contact, and a deal remains possible. However, Wednesday was more of a "get to know you" session, and it sounds like it went well.

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The Ravens obviously wanted to check out where Mangold was at mentally and physically. He played in just eight games last year because of an ankle injury.

In the past two seasons, he has been solid at times but he has not looked like the perennial Pro Bowl performer he became with the New York Jets. Is that because of injuries or advanced age or is it a combination of both?

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That's what the Ravens will have to figure out. As for Mangold, he's a proud player who has had a great career. He obviously isn't just going to sign anywhere. He wants to find the right fit at this stage of his career, although it's unclear what his other options are at this point.

Mangold was let go by the Jets on Feb. 25, and the Ravens are his first reported visit.

Checking out the rooks: While Mangold was at the team facility Wednesday, so too were several projected first-round draft picks. The Ravens played host to wide receivers John Ross (Washington) and Mike Williams (Clemson) and pass rushers Takkarist McKinley (UCLA) and Haason Reddick (Temple).

The Ravens are allowed to have up to 30 official draft visits and assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said more are scheduled Thursday and over the next two weeks.

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It's important to remember, though, that visits aren't a good gauge of a team's interest in certain players. There are plenty of reasons to potentially meet with prospects that you know you won't be drafting.

They include doing due diligence on a potential opponent, building relationships that could help you when that player ultimately reaches free agency and trying to get other teams to believe you're interested in a certain player when you're really not.

Teams pull out all the stops in trying to make sure the players they covet are available when they're on the clock.

Not in the mix on Mixon: DeCosta was diplomatic when he was asked yesterday about Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon as a player, crediting his skill set and predicting he'll come off the board at some point between rounds one and three.

High-ranking Ravens officials haven't yet discussed whether they'd consider drafting Mixon, who was arrested in 2014 for punching a female student in the face, an act caught on videotape. It may not be DeCosta's announcement to make, but you can bet that Mixon's name is nowhere to be found on the team's draft board. That should go without saying.

Time to sign: The most revealing thing that general manager Ozzie Newsome said at yesterday's annual draft luncheon really had nothing to do with the draft.

Newsome acknowledged that the Ravens are working on signing another free agent or two before the start of the draft on April 27. Newsome said there was a "high probability" of another addition over the next three weeks. His comment was notable because Newsome doesn't typically create expectations with his comments or reveal much about the team's activity.

That's why his declaration that another signing was highly probable raised some eyebrows among reporters. When Newsome makes a comment like that, it's taken as a near formality.

And no, I don't think Newsome was necessarily or exclusively alluding to a Mangold deal. The Ravens would still love to add another offensive lineman before the draft and more depth to their secondary. They have other needs and there are a few free agents out there who fit.

Mum's the word: Otherwise, I don't get too wrapped up in what Ravens' officials say during the draft luncheon. It's helpful to hear team officials break down certain position groups and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the draft. But trying to determine which way the Ravens are leaning through the comments of team officials is an exercise in futility.

Even Newsome admitted that he and other team officials won't even reveal any aspect of draft plans to their close friends who work for other NFL teams. So they're certainly not going to provide that sort of information to the media.

Newsome also acknowledged he's heard from teams potentially interested in moving forward into the Ravens' draft spot at 16 overall if the specific player they covet is available. In five of the past 12 drafts, Newsome has either moved up, back or out of the first round entirely.

The Ravens are clearly not content with having only seven picks in a draft that is regarded as extremely deep. So at some point, whether it's in the first round or in a middle round, you have to expect the Ravens to move back and collect an extra draft pick or two. If it's in the first round, I wouldn't expect them to move too far. You put yourself back in the early to mid 20s and it's going to be awfully hard to secure one of the draft's top wide receivers, pass rushers or linebackers.

Short roster: I mentioned this in a blog earlier in the week, but it's worth repeating that the Ravens have just 66 players on their roster, and that's including their exclusive rights free agents and their four current restricted free agents.

Even if the Ravens sign a few free agents over the next couple of weeks, they'll still have room to carry a huge rookie class into training camp. They always take undrafted free agency seriously, but this year, their scouts will be able to cast a wide net in bringing in prospects that went undrafted.

A home for Sherman?: I've gotten a lot of questions about whether the Ravens are trying to swing a deal for Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. I'm sure they'd love to add Sherman, but I honestly don't know whether they've had any in-depth talks with Seattle. However, given that it will likely cost them an early-round pick and it also would create some issues with the salary cap, I wouldn't bank on them being involved. Again, just my opinion, not based on anything I've heard.

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