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2015 NFL DRAFT

Projecting the draft: Baltimore Ravens

By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
While games are won and lost in the fall, the building blocks of a team's foundation are built in April on draft weekend. The Ravens have subscribed to this notion and credit their sustained success to their commitment to scouting and the NFL Draft.

Led by General Manager Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have one of the top scouting and personnel departments in the league, evidence by their ability to routinely find good players at different stages of the draft. Players like Ray Rice, Lardarius Webb and Pernell McPhee are examples of quality starters found after the first round on draft day. But not missing in the opening round (Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Michael Oher, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco and on and on) is also important. Bottom line, when it comes to the draft, the Ravens know what they're doing.

The Ravens are currently in an interesting situation because they don't have any glaring holes, but have several older veterans (Lewis, Reed, Matt Birk, etc) whose best years are behind them. It's tough to forecast when these vets will hang it up and it's unlikely the Ravens will force their hand, but Baltimore needs to be ready and find replacements through the draft.

Here are five prospects the Ravens might consider on draft day:

C Peter Konz, Wisconsin (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 36)
Although he re-signed with the Ravens, veteran center Matt Birk is on his last legs and young depth along the interior offensive line will be a priority on draft day. Peter Konz is an aggressive, tough-minded blocker, fitting the mold of the mean but technically-sound linemen that Wisconsin is known for producing. He lacks mauling strength, but is a good station-to-station blocker with quick feet and mobility to work in space and on the move. The glaring negative with Konz is his long-term durability, battling numerous injuries over his career and during the pre-draft process. But he blocks with balance and awareness, displaying the skill-set to line up at guard until Birk retires and giving the Ravens a versatile weapon inside.

ILB Mychal Kendricks, California (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 76)
Ray Lewis isn't done yet and he looks like he could play another five years, but in reality, his physical style of play will eventually catch up to him and his body only has so many hits left. With that in mind, the Ravens should pull the trigger on a highly-rated linebacker on draft day if one is available and that just might be Mychal Kendricks in the second round. He is tough, strong and productive, but perhaps Kendricks' best attribute is his versatility with experience both inside and outside in Cal's 3-4 scheme. Kendricks isn't the biggest or most explosive, but he is a heads-up defender with a tenacious motor and would help add depth to the Ravens' linebacker group and fight for a starting job sooner rather than later.

OLB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 65)
With Jarrett Johnson signing in San Diego, Paul Kruger is expected to fill the void at outside linebacker opposite Terrell Suggs. But some depth is needed at the position, especially if Sergio Kindle is released. Ronnell Lewis was somewhat of a hidden gem in high school because he played eight-man football in a lower division, but showed he belonged with the big boys at Oklahoma. He was moved around a lot in college to maximize his talents, seeing time at SLB, DE and even a combination of the two, but he projects best as a hybrid outside pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme. Lewis left the Sooners on bad terms as he never seemed interesting in school, struggling with academics, but he plays hard on the football field and flashes a lot of ability. He is still relatively unproven, but would be a nice value in the third round for Baltimore.

G Tony Bergstrom, Utah (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 131)
With Ben Grubbs leaving for New Orleans in free agency, second-year tackle Jah Reid is expected to transition inside full-time at left guard. But the Ravens need to be ready if that experiment doesn't work, which means more interior line depth. Tony Bergstrom manned the right tackle spot for Utah the past three seasons, but projects best inside at guard. He will be a 26-year old rookie next season after a religious mission in college, but already carries himself like a mature, focused professional. Bergstrom needs to develop his anchor to hold his ground, but he is light on his feet with the natural flexibility and instincts for the next level. He needs work, but most of his flaws are correctable and he has the upside to be at-worst a solid reserve in the pros.

S Eddie Pleasant, Oregon (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 198)
Similar to the Ray Lewis situation, Ed Reed only has so many miles left in the tank and depth at the safety position could be examined in the later stages of the draft. Although this safety class is one of the worst in recent memory, there is some depth in the mid-to-later rounds and Eddie Pleasant would be a great option in the fifth or sixth round. He played the “Rover” position at Oregon and was asked to do a lot in this role, but was at his best in-the-box as a downhill safety, looking most comfortable with the play in front of him. Pleasant is undersized and has some athletic limitations, but has improved instincts and is a violent striker, giving up his body and enjoying contact. He doesn't flash the consistent skills to start at the next level, but he has the feisty attitude to be an instant contributor on special teams.
 
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