The Ravens have a handful of needs. Most are not pressing. They have yet to address the offensive line this offseason and will be forced to do it in the draft. Even with the emergence of Torrey Smith a year ago, they are looking for another game-changer at wide receiver. Terrell Suggs lacks a true sidekick. And then there is the annual question about whether this is the year they need to prepare for life after Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. In my fifth and final first-round mock draft, I give you a semi-educated guess at whom the Ravens will select with the 29th pick. Is it still Wisconsin center Peter Konz? Read on to find out.
The 2012 NFL draft is now just over a week away. Free agency has died down, and teams are shifting their focus to the draft to round out their rosters. The Ravens are no exception. Their primary needs are still the same as they were entering the offseason: offensive line help, a pass rusher and a receiver. This mock draft -- the fourth of five I will do before the draft -- doesn't account for trades. And remember, these are called "mock" drafts for a reason. Try not to take them too seriously, folks.
The 2012 NFL draft is three weeks away, and though most teams have solidified their draft boards barring a few tweaks after prospects visit, the "silly season" of draft rumors is really starting to heat up. Need an example? How about the rumblings that the Colts are undecided about the first pick? But hey, I love mock drafts as much as you do, so allow me to contribute to the silly season with my third mock draft of the offseason.
After nearly an hour of buildup Tuesday morning, the NFL and Nike -- the apparel company which has replaced Reebok as the league¿s official apparel supplier -- revealed new uniforms for each of the 32 NFL teams at an event in New York City. Seconds later, those images were transmitted out into the blogosphere.
The NFL is rolling out its new Nike uniforms today in Brooklyn, where at least one player from each NFL team is on hand to model the new jerseys. Players already are tweeting about their "new age" on-field fashions, and the NFL is staging the reveal like it's a Broadway production.
After a wild first week in free agency that was punctuated with Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos, we have a better idea of what needs teams will address in April's NFL draft. So now seems like a good time for our second mock draft of the offseason. (This mock draft does not account for potential trades.) And remember, these are called "mock" drafts for a reason. Try not to take them too seriously.
A week into free agency, the movement among free-agent linebackers has been limited, especially when it comes to the inside linebackers. There have been some signings at the position -- such as Joe Mays re-signing in Denver and Dan Connor joining Dallas -- but the biggest names remain unsigned.
Making a splash by throwing around cash on talent from other teams isn't usually the Ravens' style, though that's not to say that they haven't made significant signings in their 16-year, going-on-17-year history.
Unless you count Mario Williams, a defensive end who can also play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, there won't be any marquee linebackers available in free agency this offseason. But there are a handful of solid starters -- including a pair of Ravens -- scheduled to be available in a deep class of free agent linebackers. Here is a look at the top free agent linebackers on the market and where they could wind up in 2012.
Productive pass rushers such as Mario Williams of the Houston Texans usually don't become free agents while they are in the prime -- the most recent example was Julius Peppers, who signed with the Chicago Bears two offseasons ago.
It's a good thing the Ravens aren't looking for a pass-catching tight end in free agency because pickings are slim. Jermichael Finley, the top free agent tight end in this year's class, won't hit the market as the Green Bay Packers re-signed him to a two-year deal last month. That leaves the Washington Redskins' Fred Davis as the top free agent at the position, but there is a chance the Redskins could use their franchise tag to keep Davis.
Ravens running back Ray Rice is scheduled to become a free agent, but the team will place the franchise tag on him by March 5 in the hopes of working out a long-term deal with the Pro Bowl back. That's a bummer for teams looking for an elite back as Rice would have been the best available runner.
The biggest storyline of free agency, one that will send ripples throughout the rest of the offseason, is the fate of Peyton Manning, who could be released by the Indianapolis Colts, the franchise that Manning quarterbacked to a Super Bowl title in 2006. Here is a look at Manning and four other top free agent quarterbacks and where they could wind up in 2012.
The Cleveland Browns, who have gotten uneven play from Colt McCoy, have given mixed messages about their plans, but they appear to have the best package of draft picks to make a deal to draft Robert Griffin III happen.
NFL Combine: Peter Konz is considered the best center in the draft class and his combination of size, strength and smarts is expected to make him the latest Wisconsin offensive lineman to be taken in the first round.
This year's NFL scouting combine begins Wednesday, unofficially marking the start of draft speculation season. Before the prospects are poked and prodded, though, staff writer Matt Vensel has taken his first crack at predicting the first round of April's NFL draft.
Can the Ravens overcome injuries and inconsistent play? The banged-up team will have to rise to the occasion against the Bengals in order to lock up a first-round bye and a home game in the second-round of the playoffs.