2013 NFL Draft primer: Baltimore Ravens
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The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the last in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICK NO. 32: BALTIMORE RAVENS
2012 record: 10-6
Key offseason acquisitions:
Elvis Dumervil, defensive end
Rolando McClain, middle linebacker
Chris Canty, defensive tackle
Michael Huff, safety
Marcus Spears, defensive end
Key offseason departures:
Ray Lewis, middle linebacker (retired)
Ed Reed, safety
Anquan Boldin, wide receiver
Dannell Ellerbe, middle linebacker
Paul Kruger, defensive end/outside linebacker
Bernard Pollard, safety
Matt Birk, center (retired)
Bryant McKinnie, offensive tackle
Ma'ake Kemoeatu, defensive tackle
Cary Williams, defensive back
Brendon Ayanbadejo, linebacker
Biggest holes in roster: Middle linebacker, safety, wide receiver, offensive line
It's tough being the king.
After re-signing restricted free-agent QB Joe Flacco to a six-year, $120.6 million deal, the defending Super Bowl champions lost a lot of their core to retirement (Ray Lewis, Matt Birk), cuts and free agency (everybody else). They did pick up a few players to mitigate their losses, with pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil the most notable acquisition. But there's still a lot of work that needs to be done for the Ravens to return to the top.
First and foremost is plugging up the huge hole at middle linebacker left by Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. The Ravens signed ex-Raider Rolando McClain, but he could face league discipline after his second arrest on April 21 for disorderly conduct, just 10 days afte signing with the team.
Neither of the top two inside linebackers -- Georgia's Alec Ogletree or Notre Dame's Manti Te'o -- figure to be available at this pick, so the Ravens could turn to Kansas State's Arthur Brown or LSU's Kevin Minter. Both are great tacklers and take good routes to the ballcarrier, but Brown is a step faster (4.68 seconds in the 40 at his Pro Day vs. Minter's 4.81 at the Combine). Brown would likely be Baltimore's Plan A at inside linebacker, with Minter the Plan B.
The Ravens also need a safety to replace Reed. If San Francisco doesn't take South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger at no. 31, the Ravens could take him here (though Eric Reid, Matt Elam orJonathan Cyprien would be the better choice if available). Swearinger isn't an interception machine like Reed, but rather a big hitter who isn't afraid to lay out anyone and everyone in his vicinity. That will translate to a lot of unnecessary roughness flags (and maybe a few fines from Roger Goodell), but he'd be the enforcer the Ravens need.
The Ravens could also use a wideout to replace Anquan Boldin, who was traded to San Francisco. USC's Robert Woods, while possibly a reach here, could be the choice at No. 32. Woods is a possession receiver who makes his living on short and intermediate routes. He'd be a perfect complement to speedy deep threat Torrey Smith.
If Cal's Keenan Allen somehow slides this far, the Ravens should take him before the clock winds down 10 seconds. Allen reminds some scouts of Boldin -- a physical receiver with good hands, but lacking in speed. He'd be a perfect fit if he happened to slip to the end of the first round.