Ravens draft preview: Defensive backs

Today is the final day of The Sun's look at where the Ravens stand at each position, the likelihood that they will address that spot early in the draft and some of the prospects that they may consider. The first round of the draft is tomorrow and the Ravens have the 32ndpick.

Today we'll examine defensive backs:

Current defensive backs under contract: Cornerbacks – Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson, Chris Johnson; Safeties – Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, Christian Thompson, Omar Brown, Emanuel Cook, Anthony Levine.

Chances that the Ravens draft a defensive back in first three rounds: High. The Ravens are pretty comfortable with their cornerback depth, but there is a very good chance that they take a safety early in the draft. Despite signing former first-round pick Michael Huff and bringing back veteran James Ihedigbo, the Ravens remain thin on experienced safeties as their two starters last season – Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard – are no longer in the organization. The good news for them is that there are several talented safeties in the draft and a couple of them should still be available when the Ravens are on the clock at pick No.32.

Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Cornerbacks – Dwayne Gratz (Connecticut), Tyrann Mathieu (LSU), Jamar Taylor (Boise State); Safeties – Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International), Matt Elam (Florida), D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina), Kenny Vaccaro (Texas), Earl Wolff (N.C. State).

Outlook: The consensus in the days leading up to the draft is that the Ravens are most likely to draft either a safety or an inside linebacker with their first pick tomorrow.  While it’s unclear
if one of the draft’s top inside linebackers falls to them at No. 32, they should get an opportunity to select one of the top safeties. Vaccaro is considered the best safety in the draft and he’s expected to be off the board by the middle of the first round. But the rest of them, including Cyprien, whose stock has soared since the draft process began, Elam, Swearinger and
LSU’s Eric Reid all could still be on the board. The Ravens haven’t drafted a safety in the first round since selecting Ed Reed out of the University of Miami with the 24th overall pick in 2002. But this could be the year that changes. And if they don’t strike for one in the first round, don’t expect them to wait too long before adding one. As for cornerbacks, General manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh believe that you can never have enough of them. Look for the Ravens to take at least one corner in the middle or late rounds.

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