Somebody pinch me because I must be dreaming, April has come at last! Are you guys as excited as I am?
For the next few weeks leading up to draft day I am going to breakdown a player a day that I believe the Ravens should/will target. Today I am taking a closer look at the players who didnt quite make my top 5.
Donta Hightower, LB, Alabama- I really wanted to find a spot for him in the top 5 but i just thought the other 5 guys were better than him and couldnt bump any of them(although it was extremely close between him and Konz and in the end i went with need and took Konz). Hightower is a thumper in the middle. he really needs to shed some fat and get leaner in order to play in coverage at the NFL level, but he is already an elite run defender and a solid blitzer and could actually spend his rookie year in a rotation at OLB on run downs(where Kruger figures to struggle).
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina- Jeffery would have been my choice for number 7. He is a long rangy WR with Elite jumping ability. Jeffery would be an immediate red-zone threat for any team that drafted him and he has serious no.1 WR potential. Jeffery has some issues, most notable with his weight. Jeffery has had issues staying in shape over the years and would need to find his motivation to be able to excel at the NFL level. Jeffery is a boom or bust player who might be an all pro three years from now…or he might be out of the league entirely.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB/FS, Alabama- Kirkpatrick might be a bit of an odd pick at first glance, but he would actually probably end up being a really solid selection. I know Ravens fans wouldnt be overly pleased to see a CB go in the first round 2 years in a row, but the idea the Kirkpatrick is better suited to be an NFL free safety makes it more palatable. Kirk could spend his rookie year rotating in at CB and playing special teams and when Ed Reed either retires or leaves via free agency then Kirk would slide back and take his place in the starting lineup. Kirk is a rangy player and has excellent instincts for the position but will need to improve his ball skills in order to be a great FS.
Zach Brown, LB, UNC- Brown is a really really interesting prospect to me. a lot of people will tell you he can only be a 4-3 OLB and nothing else. but that is a bit near sighted considering the immense physical skills that Brown has. I think Brown could be a game changing player at ILB using his size and speed to neutralize opposing TEs(ala Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis) and be a monster in coverage as a linebacker. players with his speed dont come around often and to trap him in a box at 4-3 OLB is outdated thinking. he could be a real asset for the Ravens at ILB moving forward once Ray Lewis decides to go to the Hall of Fame.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio St.- I hate his work ethic, he has been shredded by every elite pass rusher he has ever faced and he has a bad attitude. if he falls to the end of the second round then he is worth the risk, but he isnt worth a first round pick.
Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois- Mercilus is a pure rusher who offers little in terms of coverage or run stopping ability or potential. he is not an upgrade from what the Ravens hav in Paul Kruger and therefore not a fit for the Ravens D. he might be a fine player elsewhere, but the Ravens dont have a place for him.
Harrison Smith, FS, Notre Dame- I actually like Smith, but he isnt worth a first round pick. no matter which 28 players are selected before the Ravens pick, he will not be anywhere close to the best player remaining.
Cordy Glenn, David Decastro, Michael Floyd etc.- there were quite a few players that the Ravens would like to have, but there is no way these guys fall to 29 so they didnt make the list.