On the eve of free agency, let's gauge the free-agent safety class:
Designation: Unrestricted free agent
Comment: Bethea is a reliable defender who has good range. He is extremely dependable and hasn't missed a game since 2007. The downside is he turns 30 before the season begins. Bethea isn't known for being much of a playmaker with a total of two interceptions the past three years.
Bill Polian's grade: A
Chances of signing with Ravens: On one hand, I can see the Ravens signing Bethea because he will likely come at a good value. But I believe the Ravens are looking for someone who makes more plays than Bethea.
Designation: Salary-cap cut
Comment: Bailey is open to switching from cornerback to safety, which is the best way to extend his career. The Ravens couldn't sign someone with a better résumé: 52 career interceptions and 12 Pro Bowl selections. But Bailey is 35 and was limited to three starts in the regular season because of a nagging foot injury.
Bill Polian's grade: D (as a cornerback)
Chances of signing with Ravens: My knee-jerk reaction is the Ravens wouldn't sign Bailey after dealing with another future Hall of Fame defender on the decline (Ed Reed). That being said, Rod Woodson was 34 when the Ravens converted him from cornerback to safety. The Ravens would make this move only if they were confident Bailey can stay healthy.
Designation: Unrestricted free agent
Comment: He is clearly the top available safety. The three-time Pro Bowl defender is the type of playmaker who would make the Ravens' defense a top-10 one again. Byrd has 33 combined interceptions and forced fumbles in just 73 career games. His biggest weakness is the lack of ideal speed, which he offsets with instincts.
Bill Polian's grade: B-minus
Chances of signing with Ravens: There's a report Byrd is seeking $9 million per season. The Ravens spend that type of money to keep their own players, not to get other teams' free agents. It would be out of character for them to make this move. The Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns are more likely destinations.
Designation: Unrestricted free agent
Comment: He is a very underrated defender. Clemons is a hybrid who played strong safety last season but is equally as effective in pass defense. Not many knew Clemons was the ninth-best safety in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. That's one spot behind the more well-known Byrd.
Bill Polian's grade: B
Chances of signing with Ravens: Clemons would be at the top of my wish list. Only 11 completed passes were credited against Clemons all season. This tells me that he's a difference-maker.
Designation: Salary-cap cut
Comment: What stands out is he is 26, comes up with big plays and has graded out as a top-25 safety by Pro Football Focus. The drawback is his history with knee injuries.
Bill Polian's grade: C-minus
Chances of signing with Ravens: The injury history is a big concern. Coach John Harbaugh doesn't like players who miss practice. It's probably a red flag that Delmas remains unsigned after visiting the Steelers, Dolphins and Saints.
Designation: Unrestricted free agent
Comment: The former first-round pick has always shown great potential as a playmaker, but he has been inconsistent at times in pass coverage and as an open-field tackler. Jenkins is often described as a cornerback-safety tweener, which basically means he's versatile enough to play both spots but doesn't excel in either one. He is just 26, so there is a chance he can deliver a breakthrough season.
Bill Polian's grade: D
Chances of signing with Ravens: Jenkins has a lot of qualities that the Ravens covet. He is a hard worker and a leader (the Saints' defensive captain the past two seasons). His ability to play deep, cover the slot and blitz occasionally would make him a good fit for the Ravens' style of play. It's his up-and-down play that causes concern.
Designation: Unrestricted free agent
Comment: The former second-round pick went from a backup with the Raiders to a starter in his first season with the Panthers. Mitchell makes good reads and has a knack for being around the ball. He is 26 and has intriguing upside.
Bill Polian's grade: B-minus
Chances of signing with Ravens: It's too much of a risk to go with someone who has just one year of starting experience. Plus, Mitchell lacks the type of range the Ravens want for that position.
Designation: Unrestricted free agent
Comment: Reed looked old and slow last season. The Texans decided to part ways with him 10 weeks into the season after giving him $6 million guaranteed. He landed with the New York Jets and had three interceptions in his final four games. But he gave up big plays, including a 66-yard touchdown pass at M&T Bank Stadium.
Bill Polian's grade: D
Chances of signing with Ravens: The only time the Ravens should re-sign Reed is for a one-day contract when he decides to retire.
NOTE: Since this was posted, Delmas signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins that can be worth up to $3.5 million.
It's not a particularly strong free-agent class in the AFC North, although the top ones rank among the best in the NFL.
The free-agent group in the division took a hit when tight end Dennis Pitta, outside linebacker Jason Worilds and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson all signed before the official start of free agency.
So who's left? ESPN's four team reporters in the division -- Scott Brown, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon -- compiled a list of the top 15 free agents in the AFC North.
The Baltimore Ravens have the most free agents on this list with eight players. The Cleveland Browns have two of the top three free agents in the division, and the Cincinnati Bengals have two of the top five. The Pittsburgh Steelers placed one free agent in the top 10.
Here are the top 15 free agents in the AFC North:
1. Alex Mack, Browns center: At 28, the two-time Pro Bowler is in the prime of his career. Mack was so coveted by the Browns that they placed a $10 million transition tag on him. It will be interesting whether another team can pry him away from Cleveland.
2. Michael Johnson, Bengals defensive end: He was better in 2012 (11.5 sacks) than he was in 2013 (3.5 sacks). Still, his size, athleticism and age (27) will make him one of the most coveted pass-rushers this offseason.
3. T.J. Ward, Browns safety: Considered one of the top 10 safeties in the NFL, Ward will draw interest from teams looking to get more physical in the secondary. He makes an impact on run defense and has improved in coverage.
4. Eugene Monroe, Ravens offensive tackle: Some believe Monroe is the top offensive tackle in free agency, but ESPN's Bill Polian has five tackles ranked ahead of him. His athleticism and upside will command a big-money contract even though he's never been to a Pro Bowl.
5. Anthony Collins, Bengals offensive tackle: He is an underrated left tackle who didn't allow a sack last season. The question mark with Collins is how he'll play as a full-time starter. He made seven starts last season and has 25 starts in six seasons in Cincinnati.
6. Jacoby Jones, Ravens receiver-returner: He was one of the top playmakers in the Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl run, and he ranked among the top five returners in the league last season. Jones is inconsistent and one-dimensional as a wide receiver, but he made a lot of clutch plays for the Ravens in two seasons.
7. Art Jones, Ravens defensive end: His impact as a run defender and interior pass-rusher makes him one of the top defensive tackles available. Teams, though, have to wonder whether he'll be the same type of player without Haloti Ngata drawing double-teams next to him.
8. Daryl Smith, Ravens linebacker: He was quietly one of the NFL's top comeback stories. In his first season with the Ravens, Smith led the team with 123 tackles and finished with five sacks, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. His age (32 this month) could be a drawback.
9. Michael Oher, Ravens offensive tackle: His play never reached the expectations placed on a first-round pick. Oher is a throwback type of player whose strengths are durability and toughness. The biggest knocks against him are mental mistakes and pass protection.
10. Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers wide receiver: He is almost 27, brings a lot of quickness and is coming off a season where he dropped just two passes (according to ESPN Stats & Information). What works against Sanders is the fact that he's never had more than 740 yards receiving in a season and averaged a career-low 11 yards per catch last season.
11. Jameel McClain, Ravens inside linebacker: He isn't among the most talented linebackers, but he prides himself on outworking others. Even though he came back from a spinal cord contusion last season, some teams will be wary of a player who had such a serious injury.
12. James Ihedigbo, Ravens safety: Known more for his special-teams play, Ihedigbo finished as the team's second-leading tackler. He'll try to find a team that will give him an opportunity to play defense now that the Ravens moved Matt Elam to his strong safety spot.
13. Ziggy Hood, Steelers defensive lineman: He never became the difference-maker the Steelers envisioned when they drafted him in the first round, but it would be unfair to call him a bust. One of the strongest players on the team, Hood lost his starting job to Cameron Heyward last season.
14. Corey Graham, Ravens cornerback: He was a starter on the Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl team and led Baltimore with four interceptions last season. Graham has proved to be a dependable nickelback, but he doesn't have the size or speed to be a full-time starter.
15. Brett Keisel, Steelers defensive lineman: He had four sacks last season and 26 quarterback pressures, third most on the Steelers, despite missing four games and playing sparingly in another because of a nagging foot injury. His age (35) will scare away a lot of teams.
What changed? It looks like Monroe lost the offensive tackle's version of musical chairs. According to the paper, Kansas City's Branden Albert is expected to sign with the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis' Rodger Saffold is headed for the Oakland Raiders, Oakland's Jared Veldheer is being targeted by the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati's Anthony Collins is likely to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Ravens couldn't have asked for a better scenario, if it works out this way. It would take out Miami and Arizona, two teams who were expected to spend top dollar for a left tackle, and it could lower Monroe's price tag for the Ravens. After what has been a troublesome offseason, perhaps the Ravens are due for some good luck to start free agency.
Here's the rest of your wake-up caw …
- John Eisenberg, of the team's official website, expects the Ravens to make a bigger splash than usual early in free agency. "I’m not saying the Ravens are going to wade into the melee waving fistfuls of cash and shouting “Who wants to come and get it?! That’s not their style. I don’t care how much cap room they have," Eisenberg wrote. "But there’s going to be more action than usual, maybe quite a bit more."
- Wide receiver Torrey Smith addressed the Ravens' recent arrests -- three in less than a month -- with Fox TV in Baltimore, saying, "In the off season these are grown men with their own families. Unfortunately not everyone makes great decisions all the time and there's consequences for it. We'll be there to support them and their families whatever case may be and we hope they come about better from it and learn from their mistakes."
- The Ravens reached a two-year deal with backup linebacker Albert McClellan, according to The Sun. McClellan led the Ravens with a career-high 12 special teams tackles last season. This allows the Ravens to avoid giving McClellan a one-year tender of $1.4 million as a restricted free agent.
Another arrest, another black mark on the Baltimore Ravens' image.
The arrest of backup offensive lineman Jah Reid on two misdemeanor battery charges was the third involving a Ravens player in 22 days. That is nearly one per week since the middle of February.
Embarrassing? Without question. Have the Ravens become the NFL's bad boys again? You could make that argument.
All you have to do is bring up Ray Rice's TMZ video and the mug shots for Reid and wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Some will say it's unfair to put that label on the Ravens because two of the three players are backups and might not be on the team when the 2014 season kicks off. But the casual football fan will remember "three Ravens arrested in less than a month" and not the names of those players.
The Ravens have made significant strides to repair their image since the days of Ray Lewis pleading guilty to a obstruction of justice charge in a double murder and Jamal Lewis going to jail on a federal drug charge. I remember going to games in 2005 and seeing fans at opposing stadiums wearing orange jump suits with the name "Lewis" on back of them.
Coach John Harbaugh made it a focus to make over the Ravens' bad boy persona, even going as far as shelving the all-black uniforms to avoid "playing into everyone's stereotypical thinking." In Harbaugh's first six seasons, only four Ravens had been arrested. None were starters, and linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested before even putting on a Ravens uniform.
Even though there has been a spike in arrests, it's hard to blame Harbaugh, because he can't be following 53 players to Atlantic City or Florida. It's also difficult to blame the Ravens, because Rice, Thompson and Reid had never been arrested before in their NFL careers. It's not like you can accuse the Ravens of keeping repeat offenders.
But it's hard to alter the national perception when the headlines have been about another Ravens player arrested. Bad news is bad news. This was already going to be a challenging offseason for the Ravens, who were coming off their first non-winning season under Harbaugh. The Ravens have to rebuild their offense, part of their front seven on defense, and now their image.
The Ravens were atop the football world a year ago as Super Bowl champions. Now, it feels like their image is at the bottom of it.
Baltimore Ravens backup offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of battery in Key West, Fla., early Sunday morning, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's office in Florida.
Reid is the third Ravens player to be arrested in 22 days. Running back Ray Rice was arrested for simple assault on Feb. 15, and backup wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Feb. 21.
According to the police report, Reid and another man got into a fight at the Red Garter Saloon with several others. The fight then escalated into a confrontation with security officials after they tried to break it up, according to police.
Reid, 25, was arrested at 3:14 a.m. Sunday morning. No court date has been set.
A third-round pick by the Ravens in 2011, Reid has played in 35 games, including seven starts. He played 23 offensive snaps last season.
Reid is entering the final year of his four-year, $2.6 million rookie contract.
Of the 2,126 voters, 58 percent say offensive tackle should be the Ravens' focus in free agency. Both of their starters from last season, Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher, are unrestricted free agents.
Wide receiver (19 percent) finished second in the poll, and center (16 percent) ranked third.
Here are selected comments from readers:
Andrew (Charleston, S.C.): Centers are the "QB of the line" and as we saw with Matt Birk. Experience and mental acumen matter. I'd like a proven free agent here (similar to the Birk signing). Alex Mack is unlikely but New Orleans' Brian de la Puente or Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith could probably be acquired at a reasonable price and anchor our line for years to come.
Jon (Lisbon, Md.): I don't think there's any doubt that offensive tackle is the biggest need. But the best free-agent OT is Monroe, and we don't seem to be willing to pay him the money that the Dolphins will offer him. When we didn't tag him, we basically said "good-bye" to him. Also, there's a good chance we can draft an OT that's as good as the lesser free-agent offensive tackles available. So, fill this need via draft.
Mike (Annapolis, Md.): Center has to be the priority. Watching the Ravens on offense, I hardly ever saw Joe Flacco step up into the throw without scrambling around. Gino Gradkowski was pushed back too often. On lateral run plays, penetration was usually made at the central part of the line. how many third- and fourth-and-shorts did the Ravens fail to convert? Gino is all heart; he's just not big enough for the job.
Jim (Taneytown, Md.): With free agency looming, do you think the Ravens should pursue Evan Dietrich-Smith from the Packers? It seems last year, even with a patchwork offensive line, we seemed to have some ability to block but it appeared to me they missed assignments. For comparison, look what happened to the Ravens when they signed Matt Birk and how the line performed (see: playoff wins and a Super Bowl).
Mike (Reisterstown, Md.): The priority is clearly offensive tackle. The Ravens have no one on the roster with more than one year of NFL experience at the position, and that player is Kelechi Osemele, who is currently slated to be their left guard in 2014. They need experience and skill at both tackles.While center is important, I think that if they are starting two new tackles in 2014, keeping Gino Gradkowski at center along with Osemele and Marshal Yanda at guard provides some measure of stability to the line. Hopefully, Matt Birk is right and the experience is all Gradkowski needs to improve his play.
Luke (Washington, DC): Center probably won't be the most popular choice, but I really believe the personnel loss that the Ravens suffered from most acutely last year was that of Matt Birk. I think most people can agree that our offensive woes this year started and ended with the offensive line, and losing an experienced capable center and replacing him with Gradkowski was a significant blow. Recognizing that the new offensive line scheme contributed to the problems and the amount of blown assignments this year in pass protection was just staggering. It seemed we didn't communicate effectively at all along the front line.
Ben (Afton, Va.): Tough decision here, I say offensive tackle is No. 1 over center. We need to protect Flacco in the passing game and maintain our blocks on the outside to help the run game. Although center is important for the run game, the OT helps prevent the box from being closed. You can gain yards if the defense is jumping around the line and instead of fighting through it. Have we forgotten about the off-tackle run? Plus, Flacco throws better being able to go through the full throwing motion. Wide receiver and free safety are important, but I feel signing a roster cut or draft may be the place we find a hidden gem.
Peter (New Orleans): It all starts with the offensive line, and on the line, the left tackle position is both crucial and a weak spot for the Ravens (depending on what happens with Eugene Monroe). Getting a receiver is also important, but there seems to be more depth there in both free agency and the draft. So the Ravens should prioritize the line (and particularly LT), since they may not have as many opportunities there as they do with the other positions.
John (Annapolis): If Eugene Monroe signs somewhere else for ridiculous money, what is Ravens back-up plan at left tackle?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): You're not going to like it, but one contingency plan is re-signing Michael Oher and putting him at left tackle. Another option is moving left guard Kelechi Osemele to left tackle. I also wouldn't rule out a less expensive signing like Anthony Collins. He played really well last season for the Bengals but he has one year as a starter.
Mike (Augusta, Ga.): I see wide receiver Lance Moore was just released from New Orleans. Any interest in him and a possibility for the Ravens?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): As Ozzie Newsome put it, the Ravens want a wide receiver who can convert third downs and make yards after the catch. Last season, Moore averaged 1.7 yards after the catch, the worst in the NFL. He doesn't fit the Ravens' profile.
Frantz (Odenton, Md.): Is Monroe playing hardball because he knows a team like the Dolphins will overpay him?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I wouldn't necessarily describe it as hardball. From his perspective, it's just being smart. It makes no sense for him personally to sign a deal before free agency when the Dolphins and Cardinals are expected to spend big money on offensive tackles. Tough situation for Ravens, but a good one for Monroe.
Elijah (Indiana): What are the chances the Ravens sign Jason Avant to and one- or two-year deal?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I like Avant as a third or fourth receiver, not a starting one. He's never caught more than 53 passes in a season and he's had four TDs in his past four seasons.
Nate (Richmond, Va.): If Champ Bailey is healthy could he be a viable option at free safety for the Ravens?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I like the idea in theory, but not every CB can convert to safety like Rod Woodson. There is a risk involved, and Bailey seems to get banged up more each year.
Mark (U.K.): Are the Ravens letting Monroe enter free agency to seek valuation they will match or are they going a different route?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): The Ravens' preference is to sign Monroe before free agency begins, but that's not going to happen. The Ravens are still going to pursue Monroe, but they're not going to overpay for him. That's why they didn't put the $11M franchise tag on him.
I will still keep Pitta in the rankings because he was technically a free agent this offseason, and I've added the two salary-cap casualties (linebacker Jameel McClain and fullback Vonta Leach) to the list as well.
As always, click here for ESPN.com's free-agent tracker which will keep you up-to-date with all the moves from around the league.
Here are the final 2014 rankings for the Ravens' free agents:
1. Dennis Pitta, tight end: Signed a five-year, $32 million contract on Feb. 28 that includes $16 million guaranteed ($11 million signing bonus).
3. Jacoby Jones, wide receiver-returner: In two seasons with the Ravens, Jones proved he is a dynamic playmaker and a game-changer. He is an explosive returner but a one-dimensional wide receiver. The fact that Devin Hester and Trindon Holliday are free agents won't help Jones' value.
4. Arthur Jones, defensive tackle: He's improved his play with each passing season, making an impact as a run-stopper and interior pass-rusher. Jones is expected to be pursued by multiple teams, which means he's unlikely to return to the Ravens.
5. Daryl Smith, middle linebacker: The Ravens are trying to re-sign him before free agency starts, but there are a lot of teams looking for middle linebackers. In his first season with the Ravens, Smith led the Ravens with 123 tackles and finished with five sacks, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
6. Michael Oher, offensive tackle: He never reached the expectations of a first-round pick. Oher's strengths are durability and versatility. The biggest knocks against him are false starts and pass protection. He's considered the contingency plan for the Ravens if they can't re-sign Monroe.
7. Jameel McClain, inside linebacker: The Ravens know he can still play. They just didn't think he was worth a $3.2 million salary this year. McClain could return if the Ravens can't re-sign Daryl Smith. But there's no guarantee he will come back. McClain is currently visiting teams.
8. James Ihedigbo, safety: He was among the biggest surprises on the Ravens defense last season. The Ravens, though, are moving in a different direction by shifting Matt Elam to strong safety. The team would be interested in keeping Ihedigbo as a core special-teams player, but he'll likely want to find a place where there's a better chance to play defense.
9. Corey Graham, cornerback: The Ravens won't be the only team interested in Graham, a starter for the Super Bowl team and Baltimore's interception leader last season. Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the former Ravens secondary coach, may want to bring him to the Lions.
10. Ed Dickson, tight end: His play declined the past two seasons, especially with dropped passes. Dickson doesn't expect to return, and a fresh start could help him.
11. Terrence Cody, nose tackle: He was a disappointing second-round pick who never established himself as an impact player. It was telling in 2012 when he was beaten out by Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who was out of football for a year, for a starting job.
12. Vonta Leach, fullback: The three-time Pro Bowl lead blocker was phased out of the offense when the Ravens decided to spread out teams with three receivers. Leach has an uncertain future considering his age (32) and the declining interest in fullbacks.
13. Jeromy Miles, safety: He's a solid special-teams player who has never developed as a safety. Miles will land with a team that puts an emphasis on special teams. So, don't rule out a return to the Ravens.
14. Bernard Scott, running back: He was a stop-gap signing when the Ravens needed a third running back. The Ravens need to upgrade that spot this season, and they probably regret cutting Bobby Rainey at the end of the preseason.
15. Dallas Clark, tight end: He turns 35 before the season starts, and his 31 catches were his fewest since 2006. No one would be surprised if Clark retired.
This is the time to bring all of your free-agent questions because all of the mayhem begins next week. Let's talk wide receiver, offensive tackle, middle linebacker and free safety options.
All you need to do is click on the blue words to join the fun. As always, you can post a question even before the chat officially kicks off.
Talk to you in an hour.
Key free agents: OT Eugene Monroe, DT Arthur Jones, WR-KR Jacoby Jones, LB Daryl Smith, OT Michael Oher, SS James Ihedigbo, CB Corey Graham, TE Ed Dickson.
Where they stand: The biggest hole on the team is offensive tackle. Monroe and Oher, the Ravens' starting tackles from last season, are both unrestricted free agents. The Ravens want to get bigger on the interior of the offensive line, which indicates they want to upgrade from center Gino Gradkowski. The other need on offense is a wide receiver or tight end who can convert third downs and make yards after the catch. In other words, they are looking for someone to complement wide receiver Torrey Smith beyond tight end Dennis Pitta, who was re-signed this week. On defense, the priorities are at middle linebacker and free safety. The Ravens want to bring back Smith, but they will need to replace him if they can't. With the Ravens moving Matt Elam to strong safety, they need to add an athletic safety whose strength is coverage.
What to expect: With $26 million in salary-cap space, the Ravens need to get a left tackle, center, wide receiver, middle linebacker and free safety in free agency. Baltimore is trying hard to keep Monroe and Smith before free agency begins. If the Ravens fail to retain Monroe, left tackle has to be the focus early in free agency. The contingency plan is to either re-sign Oher (which isn't ideal because he's better at right tackle) or move Kelechi Osemele from left guard to left tackle. The options at center aren't as appealing after Cleveland put the transition tag on Alex Mack. The other free-agent centers are 20-something and middle of the road: Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith, New Orleans' Brian De La Puente and New England's Ryan Wendell. At wide receiver, the top targets should be Denver's Eric Decker, New England's Julian Edelman, Seattle's Golden Tate and New York Giants' Hakeem Nicks, who has been linked to the Ravens since the end of the season. When it comes to free safety, the biggest name is Buffalo's Jairus Byrd. But Miami's Chris Clemons and Indianapolis' Antoine Bethea are solid starters as well.
Picked No. 5 overall in the 2000 NFL draft, Lewis rushed for 7,801 yards for the Ravens and scored 45 touchdowns. This still stands as the most rushing yards in Ravens history and is 1,621 yards more than Ray Rice, who ranks second.
Lewis' best season was 2003, when he gained 2,066 yards -- the third-highest season total in NFL history behind Eric Dickerson (1984) and Adrian Peterson (2012). He was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year and was selected to his only Pro Bowl.
During the 2000 Super Bowl season, Lewis carried the Ravens' offense down the stretch. In the final two months of the season, he averaged 119 yards rushing and accounted for nearly half the team's offensive production.
Lewis finished out his career by playing three seasons with the Browns, gaining over 1,000 yards in 2007 and 2008. The Ravens traded three draft picks (third-round picks in 2007 and 2008 and a seventh-rounder in 2007) to the Buffalo Bills for Willis McGahee, who gained over 700 yards rushing in just one of his four seasons in Baltimore.
Most mock drafts have the Ravens selecting tight end Eric Ebron or another offensive player (wide receiver and tackle). If you're going to change it up, linking the Ravens to an Alabama player is a good choice. The Ravens have drafted six players from general manager Ozzie Newsome's alma mater, second only to Oklahoma (seven players).
Mosley is a high-energy player with great instincts. He should start immediately and has Pro Bowl potential. His strengths are stopping the run and providing leadership in the locker room. Whether the Ravens would be interested will be determined by how they address inside linebacker in free agency.
The Ravens are hoping to re-sign Daryl Smith, which would decrease the chances of Baltimore taking an inside linebacker in the first round. It was only last year when the Ravens chose inside linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round. But, if the Ravens can't bring back Smith and add a stop-gap in free agency, drafting Mosley makes a lot of sense.
McShay also went with Mosley after the top two receivers (Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M's Mike Evans) and top three offensive tackles (Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan) were off the board.
The Ravens haven't selected an inside linebacker in the first round since taking Ray Lewis with the No. 26 overall pick in 1996.
No. 2: Eugene Monroe
Position: Offensive tackle
The bad: Monroe's level of intensity was questioned during his time in Jacksonville. He's not a Pro Bowl player, but his value is expected to be inflated because he's a 26-year-old left tackle with upside. If Monroe can get $10 million per season, he would be among the top five highest-paid left tackles in the NFL.
The bottom line: With tight end Dennis Pitta retained, the Ravens' priority on the offensive side of the ball is to get Monroe re-signed before free agency begins Tuesday. This could be difficult to accomplish, even though Monroe enjoyed his time with the Ravens and his wife's family lives in the Baltimore area. Teams like the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are expected to aggressively pursue offensive tackles in free agency. The Ravens might have to outbid multiple teams to keep him.
The Ravens are another team that needs wide receiver help. They will also very much be in the market for an athletic offensive tackle that fits Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme. But we also know that Ozzie Newsome will not reach in the draft for a lesser player. In such a deep draft, the Ravens could be a team that just sits back and waits (as they always do) and lands a true bargain in the middle of the first round who ends up being a star for years to come.
Whom does McShay have the Ravens drafting at No. 17? Let's take a look:
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