This mock attempts to be grounded in reality in terms of who is actually likely to be available, and in terms of who the Ravens would likely want to draft. I based the latter on reports of who the Ravens have invited to Owings Mills or or other indications of strong interest. In addition, while we also speak of drafting the BPA, that goal is always informed by our actual needs. I viewed S, CB, OT, TE and RB as our greatest needs. As for depth, our needs include WR, LB, DE and DL. With that background, I give you the greatest mock EVAH.
As for my first tactical steps, in a draft this deep with talent, I really think we want to trade back. Why? Because the only two guys we really value at #17 are Clinton-Dix and Lewan, and realistically, both will be gone by #17. But there is no way in hell that Lewan gets past the Steelers at #15. No way. Stop dreaming, my brothers, it's not happening. Same thing with Clinton-Dix -- there are at least three if not five teams ahead of us that desperately want a talented FS. He's not falling to us at #17. So with that said, my hope is the Browns draft a non-QB with their first pick (Watkins or an OT), and then they panic that the QB they want won't last on the boards until their second 1st rd pick at #26, so they trade their second 1st round pick at #26 to us to move up to #17. They give us two 3rd rounders in return for us dropping to #26: the #7 and #19 picks in the 3rd round. We gladly take it. This is the only trade I have us making because I think we want to keep the value of our mid-round 2nd and 3rd round picks, and we don't have much other currency to trade up (only our 6th rounder since the rest are comps).
CB DARQUEZE DENNARD
Notes: We need another starter who can play on the outside and has decent size. Dennard is that man. With Jimmy Smith on the other side, it allows the smaller Webb to handle the slot, and keeps Brown and Jackson in their rightful roles as nickel, special teams and bench strength.
S JIMMIE WARD
Notes: Best safety on the board, and we're lucky he's still there. Terrence Brooks is another consideration here. Ward combined with Elam gives us a slightly undersized pair of starting safeties. However, both are capable of playing SS and FS, which gives Pees greater flexibility, and better ability to disguise schemes to the dismay of opposing QBs.
OT JA’WUAN JAMES
Notes: Big, physical beast who should be able to play for years at RT for us. Not Lewan, and arguably not as good as Stanford's Fleming, but both of those guys are off the board here at this pick and James is the best one left.
WR MARTAVIS BRYANT
Notes: We met with him at the Combine and reportedly have maintained a strong interest in him. He's been overshadowed by his teammate Watkins, but he has incredible measurables and great potential. Gives Flacco another tall red zone target (a la the Bears).
TE TROY NIKLAS
Notes: Owen Daniels won't be with us forever at his age, and both he and Pitta are injury risks. We need someone with starting-quality talent if one of them goes down. "Thor" is a beast with great upside. He'll be as popular as Heap was before you know it.
RB CARLOS HYDE
Notes: Best available RB at this pick and a great talent. He's only still on the boards because of the continued devaluation of the position. We need a starting-quality RB because we don't know what is up with Rice and Pierce is injury prone. Hyde is that guy.
WR CODY LATIMER
Notes: There are numerous reports that we have great interest in him. We just sent Engram to a private workout at IU. This guy has height, speed and, unlike fellow Hoosier Tandon Doss, great hands. He's rising on the boards, but with the depth at this position in this draft, I think he will still be here in the 3rd round. (Yes, we have Bryant, but it never hurts to have talent. The Steelers drafted Lynn Swann and John Stallworth in the same draft).
DT DANIEL MCCULLERS
Notes: Flying a bit under radar (although Mayock has him as his 5th best DT), this guy is massive. He's not a pass rusher, but he will eat up space, stuff the run, and occupy double teams. We have to prepare now for Ngata's decline and possibly being a cap casualty next year. And I never want to see our DL act like cape-waving matadors to big, physical opposing RBs like Blount again (who we will now face twice next year).
S BROCK VEREEN
Notes: We reportedly have some interest. More of a depth move, he can play at S and CB. Great measurables, and upside. Very smart, great character, hard worker -- the kind Harbaugh loves.
ILB KHAIRI FORTT
Notes: He visited Owings Mills. Fast, nimble LB who can play ILB or OLB. A little slight physically, and has some trouble shedding blocks, but could be an excellent rotational player and would make an immediate impact on special teams, which Harbaugh always loves.
For this last pick, I also looked at Chris Davis, CB, Auburn, who may still be on the board. Good talent and value, but a little undersized. I did not draft a QB because I still think we'd prefer a veteran cut by a team that drafts a rookie QB. If Flacco goes down, you don't want a project going on the field -- that's conceding the game (or season, depending on the severity of Flacco's injury) -- you want someone with the experience to step in and manage the offense without making dumb mistakes. TJ Yates comes to mind.