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The Baltimore Ravens have stabilized their core of offensive playmakers this offseason, adding veterans Steve Smith and Owen Daniels and bringing back Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones. General manager Ozzie Newsome already has the ingredients to improve upon last season s offensive output with few glaring holes left to fill.
But the Ravens still have work to do, either through free agency or the NFL draft. Right tackle Michael Oher and safety James Ihedigbo left in free agency with no viable replacements signed to date, while Arthur Jones defection created a need for depth along the defensive line.
The is one of the deepest in the last decade, so Newsome has ample opportunities to reload in the first round and beyond. It s particularly deep with safeties, beginning with surefire first-rounders Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and including less-heralded options Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon in the second and third rounds.
A starting-caliber right tackle could be the pick at No. 17, but the Ravens might not get maximum value if they go that route. Any offensive tackle outside of the Big Three Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan is unlikely to sit atop Baltimore s draft board, but a tough, athletic prospect such as Notre Dame s Zack Martin would hardly be a reach, especially as a good fit in coach Gary Kubiak s offense.
Here s a look at five players the Ravens could consider with the No. 17 pick, in our predicted order of priority:
5. Ra Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: Hageman is a rare athlete and a versatile defensive lineman who could thrive in Baltimore. He had an up-and-down career for a player with his superior physical skills, but can blend in with a veteran defensive line with the hopes of blossoming into a Pro Bowler. The No. 17 pick could be a reach for the Ravens, but he could be a worthwhile target if general manager Ozzie Newsome can find a trade partner and move back in the first round.
4. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: Given his immense upside, Kouandjio underachieved during his Alabama career, never cementing himself as a potential franchise left tackle. But he could be the best pure tackle available for the Ravens at pick No. 17 and can vie for a starting job as a powerhouse right tackle. Kouandjio s ceiling is high and he enters the draft after an All-America season at Alabama. Like Hageman, he would be a better fit if the Ravens look to trade down.
3. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: The Ravens have a hole to fill in their secondary and are a good match for Pryor, a physical, hard-hitting safety who could pair with last year s first-round pick Matt Elam. A number of teams ahead of Baltimore have needs at safety and could pick between Pryor and Alabama s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. It would be a mild surprise for Pryor to still be on the board here, but if he is, he would be an instant upgrade to Baltimore s secondary.
2. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Michael Oher has moved on, leaving a void at right tackle that could be addressed early in the draft. Whether his potential replacement comes in the first round depends on availability with Robinson, Matthews and Lewan all potentially going in the first 10 picks. In particular, Lewan would be a good fit in Baltimore with a combination of athleticism and a mean streak that could translate into immediate playing time.
1. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: Martin might or might not be able to stay at tackle over the course of his NFL career. But he s worth considering as an accomplished tackle who was a four-year starter for the Fighting Irish. He s also an excellent athlete who moves well and fits with first-year offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak s scheme. Martin would represent good value at No. 17 as a known commodity with arguably less risk than Kouandjio.
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