NFL Draft 2017 preview: Baltimore Ravens' top needs, pick predictions

By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com   |   April 19, 2017 at 2:10 PM
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This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Baltimore Ravens have the No. 16 pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

1. Outside linebacker: The Ravens cut ties with Elvis Dumervil following the season and they need to find a replacement in the draft. Several linebackers drafted over the past few years have not shown they can be an effective pass rusher and the heir to Terrell Suggs. It would not be a stretch for Baltimore to take a linebacker with the 16th overall pick.

2. Cornerback: The Ravens struggled when Jimmy Smith went down with injuries last season. Baltimore signed Brandon Carr in the offseason because of his durability. Still, the Ravens need another playmaker in their secondary. A cornerback would also allow Tavon Young to move back to his natural position in the slot.

3. Wide receiver: The Ravens lost a pair of sure-handed receivers when Steve Smith Sr. retired and Kamar Aiken signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Baltimore was not able to fill that void in free agency, so the team needs to find a playmaker in this year's draft. The 2017 class has several talented receivers that could wind up on the Ravens' roster.

4. Right tackle: The loss of Rick Wagner to the Detroit Lions created a hole in the offensive line. Wagner was durable and effective during his three seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens could move second-year player Alex Lewis to that spot, but it appears more likely he will remain at guard. This means the Ravens will look to fill that spot in the draft, possibly as high as the first or second round.

5. Running back: Head coach John Harbaugh said shortly after the season the Ravens needed to sign another speedy running back to complement the powerful Terrance West. The team signed versatile Danny Woodhead to a three-year deal in the offseason, but that does not preclude them from adding another playmaker. Also, Kenneth Dixon is suspended for the first four games so there is a need for depth.

BEST FIT

Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA. McKinley is one of the top pass rushers in the draft and would fit perfectly in the Ravens' defense. Baltimore is in desperate need of another player who can attack the quarterback after cutting ties with Elvis Dumervil at the end of the season. McKinley could serve as the heir to Terrell Suggs, who is the franchise's all-time sacks leader but turns 35 in October. McKinley has the motor to thrive in the AFC North. Baltimore might be able to move back to get him and acquire an additional pick.

PREDICTION

Rob Rang: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. The Ravens need help at edge rusher and offensive tackle, as well, but general manager Ozzie Newsome may have a hard time letting a prototypical split end like the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Williams slip any further. His ability to box out defenders and win contested passes could make him a quick favorite for quarterback Joe Flacco, who lost similarly sure-handed receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken over the offseason.

Dane Brugler: John Ross, WR, Washington. Adding Ross would give the Ravens a track team at wide receiver and plenty of toys for Joe Flacco to play with.

Pat Kirwan: Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin.

Frank Cooney, IMO: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. Tall, talented and needed.

OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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