The top prospects:
, who had 9.5 sacks in 2011, would be a great fit for the Ravens, who may have to replace outside linebacker
. The problem is that Upshaw is the top outside linebacker in April’s
and will likely be gone in the first 20 picks. He has good speed and range for a guy who is 273 pounds and he can hold up against the run. North Carolina's
, a former standout at Wilde Lake, has great sideline-to-sideline speed and will be on the rise if he runs well in Indy. Oklahoma's
are also among the top outside linebackers in the draft.
Other intriguing names:
has good speed, instincts and coverage skills, but at 5-foot-11, he's on the shorter side.
of Texas also projects as a strong-side linebacker in the pros, but the last Longhorns linebacker the Ravens drafted,
, hasn't worked out for them. Pittsburgh's
, who had 8.5 sacks in 2011, will get a chance to show off his athleticism. Kentucky’s Danny Trevathan was a tackling machine for the Wildcats.
Grading the class:
Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz told the team’s website that this is a good class for pass rushers, but the trick for the Ravens is finding ones who fit into their hybrid defensive fronts. They will identify college defensive ends who project as outside linebackers in the pros, too. But when it comes to the guys who played outside linebacker in college, there is some quality there, but not a ton of depth. I’ll grade this class a B-minus.
Fitting the Ravens:
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens targeted an outside linebacker. Jarret Johnson is an unrestricted free agent, and even if he does return, he will be 31 in August.
showed promise in his third season, but it’s unclear if the Ravens view him as a potential starter should Johnson sign elsewhere. The team has stated that they would like to add another pass rusher; that could either mean a defensive end or an edge-rushing linebacker to bookend with
. If they had a tag team like Pittsburgh has in
, the Baltimore defense, with