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Top five options the Ravens could take in the first round of the NFL draft

Here are five options, based on a few factors, that the Ravens could take in the first round of the NFL draft.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft approaching soon, the Ravens are certainly trying to figure out what their board will look like when the first round comes on April 30.

More often than not, the Ravens do exceptionally well with their first pick. The list of quality first-round picks is quite staggering since 1996. Of the 19 first-round picks in team history, only Travis Taylor, Kyle Boller and Mark Clayton can be considered busts. Matt Elam, the 2013 first-rounder, could be on his way there if his play doesn't improve this year.

Counting Elam in the equation, that means that 15 of Baltimore's 19 first-rounders in franchise history have at least been solid contributors for the franchise. That list includes: Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Duane Starks, Chris McAlister, Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ben Grubbs, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, Jimmy Smith and C.J. Mosley.

The only one on that list that seems like an outlier is Oher, and he did enough in a Ravens uniform to warrant a four-year $20 million deal from Tennessee, though the remaining three years have been voided. He's now with the Panthers.

Point is, the Ravens don't miss often in the first round of drafts.

That brings me to this year's group and the top five likely candidates the Ravens could take with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft:

Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

SI's Peter King mentioned that from what he's heard, Gordon won't fall past the Ravens at the 26th overall pick. I tend to believe that (I also kind of have to since I picked Gordon for the SB Nation bloggers' mock draft). Of the group that could potentially fall into the 20s, Gordon is among the best available. Justin Forsett has two or three years in Baltimore tops and the Ravens are otherwise thin at running back.

Want to know what helps a passing game that doesn't have that many dynamic downfield threats? A strong running game to open up the field in play action. I'm not so sure this pick would be a complete surprise within the Ravens fan base, given the fact he reportedly is visiting the team's facility before the draft and met with the front office at the combine. It might surprise those that don't follow the Ravens on a day-to-day basis, simply since they re-signed Forsett this offseason.

Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson

The problem here is that unless someone on the Steelers' board surprisingly falls, Johnson is unlikely to be available at the 26th overall pick. Pittsburgh and Johnson have been linked for a while, with the Steelers' brass having a recent dinner with him. If the Steelers are all in on Johnson, you can bet they'll do everything they can to get him at pick 22. The Ravens would have to trade ahead of Pittsburgh, which probably won't happen.

But if Johnson does fall, he could be the guy that satisfies the need at cornerback while taking the best player available. Maybe it's because Johnson played at Wake Forest, but in the early draft season he didn't get as much love as others such as Marcus Peters or Jalen Collins. Now, Johnson appears to be getting a lot more attention and is more than likely ready to be a first-rounder.

LSU CB Jalen Collins

If Johnson gets picked by the Steelers, or someone else before the Ravens, Collins could become the next corner on the board to go after. He got to go against some of the best competition in the SEC and has an ideal frame at 6-2, 198 pounds. Collins could learn the system behind Jimmy Smith, and if Smith bolts in free agency, Collins could step in as a replacement.

Collins only has 10 career starts and didn't have a great sophomore season. He made up for it with a strong junior campaign, and quickly rose up some draft boards when he declared his intentions to go pro. He's still raw, which is one of the reason why he's a late first-rounder or early second-rounder. But he's got the potential and athleticism to be a quality player in the NFL.

Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong

If the Ravens take a receiver, you'd have to think they'd want a downfield playmaker. RIght? That essentially describes Strong in a nutshell. Strong is 6-2 and 217 pounds, and has the size to win jump ball situations against his counterparts. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine and has the kind of long stride receivers need to get vertical down the field.

Amari Cooper, Kevin White and DeVante Parker will be gone, and from there, it's a crapshoot at the position to be honest. If the Ravens were to trade up for a receiver it woud probably be Parker. Assuming they stay at 26, and some of their other options are gone, Strong very well could be the guy. A lot of folks are riding the Breshad Perriman bandwagon, especially with his visit lined up, but I'm not willing to go there yet.

Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings

The Ravens have a history of taking the best player available regardless of position — see last year's draft — and Clemmings could wind up being that guy if he's there at the 26th overall pick. Clemmings appears to be a fit for the West Coast offense and could be someone to eventually replace Eugene Monroe at left tackle. Clemmings has the athleticism to be an excellent run blocker at the next level.

Of course, this is the type of pick that could infuriate the fan base. Why take an offensive tackle when you have Monroe, Rick Wagner and James Hurst on the roster? Well, you can never have enough quality offensive linemen. As with C.J. Mosley a year ago, sometimes you take the top guy that's there regardless of position. Year in and year out, the Ravens have shown they don't want to be that team that misses out on a top guy just because a short-term hole appears present at another position.