Today we’ll examine inside linebacker:
Current inside linebackers under contract: Jameel McClain, Rolando McClain, Albert McClellan, Josh Bynes, Bryan Hall, Nigel Carr
Chances that the Ravens draft an inside linebacker in first three rounds: High. Ray Lewis has retired, Dannell Ellerbe departed in free agency and Jameel McClain has been dealing with a significant back/spine injury that ended his season last year. Brendon Ayanbadejo, a reserve last year, also was let go. The Ravens’ desire to add inside linebacker depth was exemplified by the team’s decision to sign the talented but troubled Rolando McClain and the move of Hall from defensive tackle. McClellan and Bynes also remain very much in the team’s plans. Still, it would be moderately surprising if the Ravens don’t add another inside linebacker in the first two days of the draft.
Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Steve Beauharnais (Rutgers), Kevin Minter (LSU), Alec Ogletree (Georgia), Kevin Reddick (North Carolina), Manti Te’o (Notre Dame)
Outlook: For years, the Ravens have entered drafts facing a familiar question: is this the year they find the heir apparent to the venerable Lewis? This draft, they may not have a choice following the departures of Lewis and Ellerbe and the health questions surrounding Jameel McClain. The addition of Rolando McClain seemingly diminished the desperation for the Ravens to find an inside linebacker, but his latest arrest on Sunday puts his future with the team in question. Te’o, arguably the most scrutinized player in the draft along with the player most connected to the Ravens in early mock drafts, certainly makes sense. However, it would be surprising if he is available when the Ravens make their selection at 32 and there have been few indications that they are enamored enough with the former Notre Dame standout that they’ll trade up to select him. Ogletree, another great fit, doesn’t figure to still be available either but there is a good chance Minter will be and Reddick also could be a second-round target. Either way, it would be a huge surprise if the Ravens didn’t come out of the draft with at least one inside linebacker.