NFL Network's Mike Mayock put out his list of the top players at every position for the upcoming NFL draft in his Mid-March Positional Rankings. He lists the top five at each spot and even adds in an occasional player on the rise or fall. Those players who rose or fell were ones who he had ranked in the top five at each position post-NFL Scouting Combine.
While most people jump right to the skill position rankings that the top names are no surprise to most any draft-niks, it should be the guys in the trenches on the offensive line as well at the linebacker positions that should interest Baltimore Ravens fans. With starting gaps in at least one position on the offensive line (left guard) and perhaps as many as two linebacker slots (ILB/OLB) due to losses in free agency, the Ravens are looking at either filling those openings in free agency or through the draft.
The biggest names in the draft at guard are David DeCastro (Stanford) and Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) but while DeCastro will more than likely be gone when the Ravens pick 29th overall, Zeitler is not considered first-round worthy. At linebacker, with both an outside vacancy left by the loss of Jarret Johnson to the San Diego Chargers and possibly an inside one if Jameel McClain bolts for the promise of a big payday, there are a bunch of names, although the best of them will be long gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock.
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower is most often mentioned as a possible pick for the Ravens but in order to have the chance to select him, he'll have to fall past the Ravens AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers, who need an inside linebacker as well and have been rumored to be taking a hard look at Hightower. Would Baltimore consider trading up to snatch Dont'a from the Steelers' grasp? There's no way to gauge that possibility, but if the Ravens felt that Pittsburgh was going to take him, it might be worth the cost to both fill a critical need now and in the future when Ray Lewis finally decides to hang it up, as well as deny the Steelers the player they coveted.
At the same time, there are other lesser-known linebackers that could be taken later in the draft, depending on what the team wants to do with that first round pick. There will also be strong needs at safety, since the Ravens roster got a lot thinner with the losses of Tom Zbikowski (Colts) and Haruki Nakamura (Panthers) this past week in free agency.
A wide receiver to add to the mix of Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith might be in the cards, although many fans still want to see what 2011 4th round pick, Tandon Doss can do. Either way, the team still needs that slot receiver that can double as a kick returner, thereby saving CB Lardarius Webb from the risk of injury returning punts.
Check out the list and see which guy(s) you think might be on the Ravens' radar as they get closer to the first round of the draft, beginning on April 26, 2012.