I don't know about you but one of the interesting things about this year's draft from the Ravens' standpoint is that there are all sorts of positional needs for the team but especially for round 1, they could go in any of several directions. When you look at lots of mock drafts you see that diversity playing out: it is quite easy to find multiple mocks where we select offensive tackles, guards/centers (Mike Pouncey specifically), cornerbacks, defensive ends, outside linebackers, and wide receivers. When you get to round 2 mocks you add in inside linebackers too. Truly, the Ravens can take the old BPA approach and not go wrong.
In that light I am finding it more interesting these days to look at the various Big Boards as opposed to mocks and especially Mike Mayock's Top 30. Why? Two reasons: First because it does seem like some of the Ravens' best 1st round picks have been players who have slid to them. Second, because if the Ravens do really go BPA then they will probably be drafting a player who slides down to them, a player ranked anywhere between 15-25 on various Big Boards. So below I want to look at a few of those players who: a) do look like prime candidates to slide because most mocks have them being picked lower than #26 even though Mayock's Big Board has them higher ranked, and: b) any players who lots of mocks say we might pick but are ranked lower than #26 on Mayock's Board. So, on to the players:
Players who are ranked above #26 who various mocks have either us picking or them going after us i.e. Sliders:
1) #14 Aldon Smith, DE Misery. Most mocks have him getting picked before us but several have him being picked after us.
Why he might slide to us: He was injured last year so his numbers were suppressed.
2) #17 Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue. Fewer mocks have this guy lasting to us than Smith.
Why he might slide to us: Perceived low upside.
3) #18 Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Nova. I have seen very, very few mocks that have him going at #26 or earlier. Many have him in the second round. But looks at what Mayock says: He can play the 5-technique, and he can get kicked inside. He reminds me of Trevor Pryce.
Why he might slide to us: He's not on a BCS team. That's it.
4) #19 Gabe Carimi, OT Wisky. Many mocks have us picking him.
Why he might slide to us: He's thought of as a RT and this could be early to pick one of those according to some teams.
5) #22 Adrian Clayborn: DE Iowa. Not many mocks have us picking this guy but he often lasts to the bottom of round 1.
Why he might slide to us: His Erb's Palsy issue.
6) #25 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. Most mocks have him going way before we pick.
Why he might slide to us: Hell if I know.
Players who Mayock has ranked lower than #26 but mocks have us taking, i.e., Reaches:
1) #26 Aaron Williams, DB Tejas. Well this guy is exactly where we pick but few mocks or Big Boards have this guy going in round 1. Mayock has him ranked higher than most anybody. Why? Because he sees him as a quality slot CB/Free safety. Few other draft pundits either think of him as a safety or regard his as possibly are real good one.
Why Ozzie might take him: If he thinks like Mayock then this guy could fill some nice holes for us, including taking over for Landry as safety. Most people would call this a big reach.
2) #27 Cameron Hayward, DE, tOSU. Not many mocks have us taking him but he tends to get picked right before or after our pick.
Why Ozzie might take him: As Mayock mentions, some folks have a problem finding a position for him. IMO this isn't really a reach.
3) Mike Pouncey, OG/C Florida. Usually the best interior lineman of a draft gets picked at the end of the 1st round.
Why Ozzie might take him: SEC guy, could be Birk's successor or if the team likes Yanda at RT enough to keep him there. Also if Free Agency happens before the draft and Chester goes to another team, depth on the interior becomes a problem. Again, not much of a reach but wuld only be picked if the need is really there.
4) #30 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Tons of mocks have us taking him. Tons. Many say that he's a great physical player and is in their top 20; he then slides to the Ravens because of his attitude. Mayock thinks he's too inconsistent.
Why Ozzie might take him: If free agency happens and we lose a couple of our corners and so we are desperate for a CB in round 1. IMO that would be an awful way to make a pick: desperation. According to Mayock, Smith is a reach.
5) That's it for Mayock's top 30. What's missing? Wide receivers. Specifically Torrey Smith from Maryland. Smith, pre-combine and still for many was the choice for the Ravens at #26. Also Jon Baldwin has been picked by some mocks for the Ravens at #26. But Mayock has neither in his top 30.
I think that the likelihood of one of Mayock's top 25 picks being available to the Ravens when it is their turn is at least 90%. Then if you add in Williams, Pouncey, Hayward, and Smith, its close to 100% that a couple of these guys will be available to the Ravens. In that case, predicting who Ozzie will pick will depend on any predilections/tendencies of Ozzie and his staff. Other folks here can probably better answer that beyond my simple: Ozzie likes SEC and major college program guys-which would tend to eliminate Wilkerson and no one else. But I feel pretty sure that in Round 1 we will pick one of these guys who I have listed.