“With the 26th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select…..” these are words that will be
uttered by Roger Goodell on draft day, but Ravens fans are wondering how he will finish it.
The Ravens have had tremendous success drafting late in the first round, using the 26th pick in 1996 to draft Ray Lewis.
They also drafted Ed Reed, Todd Heap and Joe Flacco late in the first round, and Ozzie will be looking to duplicate that success this year.
This draft has a lot of good not great players and is one of the deepest in memory.
The Ravens have needs at wide receiver, cornerback, defensive end and offensive line, all of which they could target with the 26th pick.
If the Ravens do trade for Anquan Boldin, then they will likely have to trade their round pick, but they would have addressed a major need at wide receiver, leaving them available to address another area of need in the second round.
Baring any trades up or down or brining in Anquan Boldin, here are a list of players that I believe the Ravens are likely to select in the first round( I do not think Darius Heyward-Bey will be available at this point in the draft):
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers:
Britt had a tremendous season this year for Rutgers and has been flying up the draft board after the combine and off-season workouts.
Britt ran a 4.5 40 yard dash, not great, but his speed is more then adequate to be successful in the NFL. Some GM’s still have concern about Britt’s character has he was suspended 1 game this past season for a violation of team rules.
After an 87 catch, 1,371 yard season, Britt’s numbers far outweigh his character concerns and I think he would be a great fit for the Ravens.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina:
Nicks had a breakout season this year, asserting himself as one of the most dominant receivers in college football.
Nicks has all the tools to be an elite receiver in the NFL and he compares his game to that of Anquan Boldin. Nicks is a tall, physical receiver that can separate from defensive backs despite not having tremendous speed.
Route running, good height and tremendous jumping ability are Nicks’ biggest strengths and things that would make him a tremendous target for Joe Flacco.
Nicks has put on 20 pounds this off-season which has some GM’s concerned about his work ethic, but I do not believe this is a major issue. In my opinion, Nick is the best option if the Ravens choose to take a receiver with the 26th pick.
Brandon Pettigrew, Tight End, Oklahoma St:
If Pettigrew is available it will be very hard for the Ravens to pass him up. Todd Heap has his worst year has a professional and it is looking like the injuries are starting to catch up to him, so a young tight end that can learn from Heap, could take this offense to the next level.
Despite having Shannon Sharpe, the Ravens still drafted Todd Heap in the first round, so it would not be unprecedented if they drafted Pettigrew.
A 4.8 time in the 40 yard has made Pettigrew slide down some team’s draft boards and could make him available at the 26th pick. Pettigrew is a guy that catches everything but team’s wonder if he has the speed to stretch the field, something the Ravens desperately need.
I do not think Pettigrew will be around, but if he is, I expect the Ravens to take him.
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois:
Vontae Davis might be the best pure athlete in this draft and many feel he is a better athlete then his brother Vernon who was the 6th pick overall of the 49ers.
Davis was the only defensive back to run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash at the combine and that is what has helped him sky rocket up the draft boards.
Davis had 76 tackles and 4 interceptions this season for Illinois but some people believe his still a little bit “raw”.
Davis’ talent and athleticism will help him have success at the NFL level and as he becomes more experienced and learns the position more, he could be one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL.
Despite the signings of Chris Carr and Dominique Foxworth and the re-signing of Samari Rolle, the Ravens are still interested in a young cornerback in this year’s draft. This is one of the most talented and deepest cornerback drafts in recent memory and Davis is at the head of the class at this position. Vontae Davis might just be too good for the Ravens to pass up.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio St:
The Ravens are undoubtedly looking for someone to fill the shoes of Ray Lewis after he retires and that guy might just be James Laurinaitis just might be that guy.
Despite not being the biggest, fastest or most athletic, Laurinaitis was a tackling machine at Ohio St. and was one of the most dominant players in college football.
There are a lot of talented linebackers in this draft, but Laurinaitis’s style of play seems to have endeared itself to the Ravens brass and I believe his is the top linebacker on their board and seems to embody everything thing the Ravens look for in a football player.
Tavares Gooden, Prescott Burgess, Antwan Barnes and Jamel McClain are talented linebackers but they are un proven and the Ravens are unsure if they can be the air apparent to Ray Lewis, so I believe the Ravens are seriously considering taking a linebacker.
Linebacker is not the “sexy” pick that most fans want to see, but it might just be the direction the Ravens go.
You never know how the first round will play out and if the Ravens will stay at number 26th.
There are a lot of issues the team needs to address and I believe they will have a tough decision on their hands on draft day.
While I think they will select one of these players that I listed, it would not shock me in the least to see them select a defensive end or offensive lineman.
One thing is for certain, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have done their homework and they will pick who they think will be the best NFL player right away.
Given the Ravens draft history, it is likely that whoever they select in the first round will be a major contributor for many years in Baltimore.