Round 1 (17th overall):
Eric Ebron - Tight End - UNC
Reason for drafting: With Watkins and Evans off the board and the newest Raven, Owen Daniels on a one year rental, it makes sense to grab the top tight end in this year's draft to groom under 2 of the better tight ends in the league. Ebron has Jimmy Graham-like skills that when refined, could become a serious seam breaking weapon for quarterback Joe Flacco and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
Zack Martin and Calvin Pryor were still on the board at this point, but those positions have greater depth in the 2014 draft and with only two top tight ends, I figured that I could get a solid player that could contribute immediately further down at tackle and safety.
Round 2 (48th overall):
Marqise Lee - Wide Receiver - USC
Reason for drafting: The Ravens go offense again in the second round with Marqise Lee. I would have loved to grab a safety or tackle here, but Lee has low first/high second round grade on him and shows all the traits of a true #1 receiver. It is likely that Lee's injury concerns had dropped him this far, but if he can remain on the field, he would easily round out an intimidating Ravens offense.
It was a choice between Lee and Matthews at this spot and I went with Lee because he feels like the more polished of the two receivers at this point in their careers. Both tackle and safety would have been a reach at this pick based on who was available.
Round 3 (79th overall):
Carlos Hyde - Running Back - Ohio State
Reason for drafting: A big, fast, physical runner that would push Rice for the starting job in a year or two. At 6-foot and 230-pounds, Hyde is the big running back that offensive Gary Kubiak loves to have and given Hyde's 4.66 40 yard dash time at the NFL combine, he has the speed to make teams pay as well. The knocks on him during his time at Ohio State was that he didn't seem to live up to his potential, but with a demanding locker room and coaching staff, you can bet that Hyde would be expected and pushed to perform better both on and off the field.
Fan favorite Terrance West was available here, but Hyde fits exactly with what the Ravens look to do both this year and in the future and ultimately has the better upside in this round.
Round 3 (99th overall - Compensatory pick):
Demarcus Lawrence - Defensive End - Boise State
Reason for drafting: Lawrence has the ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker but lacks the size and strength to line up as a defensive end in the Ravens' defensive scheme. He would immediately contribute as a rush linebacker on 3rd downs and once he learned to settle down slightly and stop the run, could be a full time starter in the mold of former Raven, Adalius Thomas. Lawrence has a high motor and frequently would track down running backs from behind due to his speed and has tremendous hitting ability. He does need to work on his strength and technique as he relies more on his speed in college. He also has some character concerns which will drop him out of the second round, but he would be a steal at #99.
Round 4 (134th overall - Compensatory pick):
Caraun Reid - Defensive Tackle - Princeton
Reason for drafting: Reid is an incredibly disruptive player on the defensive line in the mold of Haloti Ngata. Another high motor player that is often double teamed while still being able to be productive (20.5 sacks in his college career). He has fixable issues in his technique that if resolved would see him be a regular starter on the Ravens' defensive line. Being able to learn behind Ngata for a year could allow the Ravens to push Ngata off the team or greatly restructure in 2015 given his inflated salary. Reid would be an immediate rotational player that would split time with Cody until he can get his feet under him and he takes Cody's roster spot.
Round 4 (138th overall - Compensatory pick):
Rashaad Reynolds - Cornerback - Oregon State
Reason for drafting: Reynolds is a smaller corner but is quick and well suited as a special teams player and nickle corner with enough upside to be a potential #2 corner. Enthusiastic against the run and is able to stick in the pocket of opposing wide receivers, he lacks the strength and size to match up well against more physical receivers or to play press coverage. Reynolds would be a perfect fit to replace Corey Graham's production immediately and would definitely provide special teams ability to stick on the team for years.
Round 5 (175th overall - Compensatory pick):
T.J. Jones - Wide Receiver - Notre Dame
Reason for drafting: Jones is a sure handed, hard working receiver that grades out as a #3 option due to his lack of elite speed and inability to go up and fight for the ball. Jones runs crisp routes and is good about adjusting to the ball and would be good competition for the younger receivers on the team while being a good locker room presence. Ultimately Jones isn't going to blow anyone away, but he is a consistent option in the passing game and could sneak his way onto the field in a few years after the departure of Steve Smith. Limited kick/punt return ability would tie his roster spot to receiver depth solely and he would be a boom or bust pick at this late of a pick.
Round 6 (194th overall):
Jeff Mathews - Quarterback - Cornell
Reason for drafting: As I stated in my previous article about quarterback options in the later rounds, Mathews fits the Ravens' needs for a backup incredibly well and would be a perfect compliment to Flacco's skill set and Kubiak's scheme. It was a bit of a stretch to grab him in this round as he was much further down the list but I wanted to ensure that the Ravens would get him and wouldn't have to bid for his services as an undrafted rookie after the draft was complete.
Finding a safety and tackle after the first 2 rounds proves to be difficult unless a trade happens or someone slips. In every round, both positions were major reaches, but both positions could be solved this year with players already on the Ravens' roster. The passing game and offense as a whole gets a major improvement with Ebron, Lee, and Hyde in the first three rounds as all three players look to be contributors immediately with the ability to take over in a year or two. After the draft, the Ravens would be packing one of the more talented offenses in the league.