Baltimore Ravens 2012 NFL Mock Draft | First Round
The Baltimore Ravens had another stellar season, going 12-4 and winning the AFC North. They looked like they really had a chance at finally getting over the hump in the playoffs, but a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff cut their season short.
While the Ravens are clearly still a very balanced and disciplined team, the window could be closing on this current roster’s shot at a Super Bowl. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will be back, but both are aging, while the team is getting older at a number of other positions.
Baltimore holds the 29th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. Let’s see what they could do with that in our first round Ravens mock with their top five options:
Option #1: Vontaze Burflict, ILB, Arizona State
Yes, Ray Lewis said he’ll be back for the 2012 season, but the guy is 37 and is getting closer and closer to his final day in the league. He could also go down with an injury at his age at any moment, which should have the Ravens thinking long and hard about adding a future stud to groom behind him for a year. Burflict more than fits the bill, and will have the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest middle linebackers of all time, and grow in a fantastic defensive system.
Baltimore doesn’t have a ton of holes to fill, and simply need to start thinking younger at some key positions. The middle of their defense has to rank pretty high on the “to do” list.
Option #2: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Sticking with the need to get Ray Lewis’s future replacement in place, I think Hightower would be a fantastic addition in the middle. I think Burflict is a better prospect with more potential, but Hightower doesn’t come with some of the gried Burflict presents in terms of attitude and inability to listen to his coaches at times. Hightower is versatile and could actually step in and make an impact right away, but would be even better from sitting and learning behind Lewis for a year or two.
Option #4: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Matt Birk is done, which leaves a big hole at center for the Ravens heading into 2012. I know it’s a reach right now for Konz to slip all the way to the end of the first round, but if the Chargers (who could need a center) opt for a different position, it’s not insane to imagine it happening. If Konz is here, the Ravens would have to take him, as he’s the top-rated center in the draft and has excellent versatility.
Option #4: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
There’s a pretty good chance the above linebacker options and Konz are gone when the Ravens pick at the 29th spot. If that’s the case, they may not want to reach for a different linebacker, forcing their focus to shift to a potential future replacement for safetyn Ed Reed, or another weapon to help Joe Flacco to reach the next level. I’m torn here, but if Jeffery somehow plummets this far, I think Baltimore has to pull the trigger and get Flacco another stud who can do a lot of damage with the ball in his hands. Jeffery needs to prove he has top-end speed (which he hasn’t yet), but he’s a big, strong body who can make all the catches and can really make some nice plays after the catch.
Anquan Boldin is aging, Torrey Smith was inconsistent, and Lee Evans was a bust acquisition. Improving the passing game is clearly still a task that needs to be accomplished, so Baltimore should consider adding a big-play guy like Jeffery if he’s still around.
Option #5: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
If Glenn falls this far (which I predicted in my latest mock) Baltimore may want to pluck him off the board to shore-up an offensive line that is both aging and losing key players (Matt Birk, Ben Grubbs) to retirement or free agency. They could bring Grubbs back or attack their offensive line in free agency, but Glenn is an elite guard prospect who would be an excellent selection if still here.
Ultimately, this first round pick is all about making sure there is no gap between Ray Lewis’s last game as a Raven and finding his heir apparent. I think they get him in Burflict, with Hightower as a close, solid backup plan. If that doesn’t work, however, look for the Ravens to take a look at the top center/guard prospects, while landing a big-time wide receiver certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. Roberts also finished 2nd in the Wide Receiver position in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings in 2010 and 3rd in the Quarterback position in 2011. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup's NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin