The Ravens only have four picks we definitely know about for the upcoming draft — first, second, third and sixth-round selections.
Presumably, the Ravens also have a seventh-round pick for trading Bryant McKinnie to the Dolphins. It was reported as a late-round pick, so we'll assume it's in the last round of the draft. The Ravens don't have fourth and fifth-round picks since they traded those for left tackle Eugene Monroe.
With Cary Williams, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe all finishing out their 2013 seasons on different rosters, the Ravens will probably receive compensatory picks for losing them in free agency a year ago. However, for this article, we won't include them since we don't know which rounds those compensatory picks will be in.
Now that the Senior Bowl is over, here is Baltimore Beatdown's first, and very much preliminary, mock draft, based on what we know about what options the team has to pick with it at this time.
First round: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
The Ravens will try to work out a long term deal with Dennis Pitta this offseason. If that doesn't work, the option to franchise him is out there. However, the Ravens could run into a situation similar to New Orleans' with Jimmy Graham, in that Pitta's representation may want to argue he's used more as a wide receiver than a tight end.
The difference in the franchise tag between those two positions is roughly between $5-6 million, meaning the Ravens either better lock Pitta up or remain confident that franchising him as a tight end is a viable option.
If Pitta stays, Ed Dickson probably walks. Dickson never did become much of a receiving option on offense and wasn't someone Joe Flacco could rely on consistently enough. With tight ends being used increasingly more to create matchups, the Ravens could add another slot presence at the position to: 1) pick up first downs in third-and-medium situations, and 2) help the running game since the offensive line can use all the help it can get based on this past season's production.
That's where UNC's Eric Ebron comes in. Out of this year's tight end class, Ebron has the most upside as a receiver and has the strength to contribute in the running game. With the receiving class deep, the Ravens can probably stand to pass on one at this time and pick one up in the second round to help bolster the offensive side of the ball.
Second round: WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
SB Nation's Mocking the Draft actually has Matthews being taken by the Panthers at 28th overall by the Panthers. However, the deep receiving class may cause Matthews to fall back into the second round, where other draft sites (NFLDraftScout.com, CBSSports.com, WalterFootball.com) have him going.
Assuming Matthews is available in the second round, he's a no-brainer for the Ravens. At 6-3, 209 pounds, Matthews made his quarterbacks at Vanderbilt look much better than they were during his time there. He's got great hands, separates from defenders well and can go get the deep ball.
Matthews is a versatile receiver who can work out of the slot as well as on the outside. Getting Ebron and Matthews in the first two rounds would certainly upgrade the offense.
Third round: OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
The Ravens met with Jackson at the Senior Bowl and have a need along the offensive line. The question on the line is do you upgrade at right tackle or grab a guard so Kelechi Osemele to move outside to a more natural position.
That's where Jackson comes into play for the Ravens. The Ravens stated they want to get bigger along the interior of the offensive line and Jackson fits the bill at 6-4, 339 pounds. He was instrumental in Mississippi State's ability to run for 189.9 yards per game in 2013.
And keep in mind, his success came against some tough defenses in the SEC. He seems to fit the bill of what the Ravens would look for at the position.
Sixth round: C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
Ikard also fits the bill as upgrading the interior offensive line with size and strength. He's 6-3, 302 pounds and helped lead the Sooners to a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama this past season.
While he lacks ideal power at this stage of his career, Ikard is agile, quick and intelligent at the position. The Ravens have three centers on the roster at this time — Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Ryan Jensen — and could stand to upgrade.
If the Ravens were to take Ikard, the Ravens would likely cut ties with at least one of the above centers.
Seventh round: FS Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky
Remember, the Ravens will have compensatory picks due to Kruger, Ellerbe and Williams finishing the year on other rosters. Based on the quality of players, the Ravens could wind up with a compensatory pick in the fourth or fifth rounds. If that's the case, the Ravens can take a safety much higher. (Future mock drafts will reflect this, naturally.)
But for purposes of this first mock draft, Dowling is the pick to aid the safety position as he could be one of the top sleepers in this year's selection.
Dowling finished his senior season with 10 pass breakups and five interceptions, leading Western Kentucky to a No. 10 pass efficiency ranking. He has range and would be someone that could add depth at the free safety position at minimum.