Each weekday through April 24, the day before the first round of the NFL draft, The Sun will look at where the Ravens stand at each position, the likelihood that they will address that spot early in the draft and some of the prospects that they may consider.
Today we’ll examine the defensive line:
Current defensive linemen under contract: Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Arthur Jones, Pernell McPhee, Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson, Swanson Miller
Chances that the Ravens draft DL in first three rounds: Decent. Retooling their defensive line, which was uncharacteristically pushed around in the run game at times last season, was an offseason priority for the Ravens. To that end, they were aggressive in adding Canty and Spears, two veterans who bring size and versatility to the line. Those two, plus the continued development of Jones and McPhee with Ngata serving as the anchor, has the makings of a good defensive line rotation. However, General Manager Ozzie Newsome said earlier in the week that it still is an area the team could address in the draft. Clearly, one area where the Ravens are looking to improve is at nose tackle. Cody had a disappointing season last year and offseason hip surgery will hamper his preparation for the 2013 campaign.
Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Michael Buchanan (Illinois), Tank Carradine (Florida State), Quinton Dial (Alabama), Lavar Edwards (LSU), Margus Hunt (SMU), Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Alex Okafor (Texas), Jesse Williams (Alabama), Sylvester Williams (North Carolina).
Outlook: The Ravens addressed this position in free agency, but that won’t stop them from adding another one in the draft. Ngata has had injury issues the past couple of years and has not been a consistent, dominant force the past two years. McPhee has had myriad injuries and needed groin surgery after the Super Bowl. Head coach John Harbaugh said this week that McPhee also could be used more in the rush linebacker spot next season. Jones is a year away from free agency and Cody has done little to rid the label of one of the Ravens’ rare early-round draft busts. The biggest need is at nose tackle to eventually replace Cody, but the Ravens are also always on the lookout for defensive ends that can get to the quarterback. With bigger holes at other spots on their defense, like at inside linebacker and safety, it would be a little surprising if the Ravens used one of their top three picks on a defensive lineman. But nothing annoys hard-nosed football men like Newsome and Harbaugh more than watching the Ravens get physically dominated up front. So they certainly won’t ignore the defensive line during the draft.