Ravens have multiple scenarios to ponder

Draft week is here and as always nothing is set in stone, especially for the Baltimore Ravens. I'm sure Ozzie Newsome and the Front Office are collectively holding their breath that Matt Ryan falls to them at eight. However, what happens if Ryan goes to Atlanta at three, making it impossible for the Ravens to even trade up to get him. Then, who do the Ravens turn to?

Odds are the Ravens do one of four things with their first pick and, yes, I know that is a lot of different scenarios, but this is the Draft so all bets are off. The only thing that remains certain is that the Ravens still need a quarterback and will take one on the first day.

Scenario One: the Ravens stay at eight and select defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis who doesn't fill an immediate need, but has a lot of value and can replace Trevor Pryce in the near future.

"I think Ellis is a phenomenal football player," said Director of College Scouting Eric DeCosta at the annual Draft luncheon last week. "He is a little bit undersized, but we've had a lot of success with undersized defensive lineman when you think of Kelly Gregg. He has a great motor. He is a strong guy who can play in a one-gap or two-gap scheme, in my opinion. In another draft, I think this would be a guy who would be a top 3 pick."

Ellis' production against top competition and versatility in different defensive schemes combined with a great work ethic and positive attitude, show why he is a can't-miss prospect.

"I can do either – the nose tackle, the 1 technique, or the 2 technique," said Ellis to reporters at the NFL Combine. "I played both in college so I'm used to doing that kind of thing. Whatever a team needs me to play, I'll play."

Ellis, teamed together with Haloti Ngata, would be truly daunting for future opposing offenses. Scenario Two: the Ravens stay at eight and select cornerback Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin fills the second biggest need for this team behind quarterback, but may be a bit of a reach at this point.

On the positive side, McKelvin has tremendous speed, great leaping ability and may be next in line to be one of the few shutdown corners in this league, just like he did when he locked down last year's number two pick, Calvin Johnson, who had two catches for nine yards against him.

Also, McKelvin is eager to step out of the small-school shadow and show everyone what he can do. "I know what I'm capable of," McKelvin said at the Combine. "Now, I just have to go out and prove it to everybody else. I plan on being the first corner taken in the draft."

A youth injection into the secondary might be just what the Ravens need in order to regain the defense's vaunted status.

Scenario three: the Ravens get lucky and one of the top players on their board falls to eight. This could mean either running back Darren McFadden or defensive end/outside linebacker Vernon Gholston. I know people say this is a long shot, but when drafting early on, the Ravens always seem to get someone who no one expected to be there, like Terrell Suggs or Haloti Ngata.

McFadden certainly does not fill a need at running back with Willis McGahee firmly entrenched at the position, but his explosiveness may be the key element in this new and hopefully dynamic offense.

"I feel like I am the best player in the draft," said McFadden at the Combine. "I can do a lot of different things. I feel like I'm a very versatile player. I can go out there and line up at receiver, I can line up in the backfield and block, line up back there and run, I can throw a pass if you need me to. But like if I had to, I could play defense."

Besides being one of the most athletic players in the Draft, Gholston provides an instant impact on defense with his pass rushing ability, something the Ravens failed to replace with the departure of Adalius Thomas last year. "In Gholston's case, he is tremendously gifted," said DeCosta during the Draft luncheon. "He is very explosive and strong. He has outstanding pass-rush ability. I believe he had 14 or 15 sacks this year. He had some big games against Wisconsin and Michigan where he looked like a top-level guy. I think teams will look at him as a possible defensive end or linebacker, depending on the scheme. He's a player that's probably going to go in the top 10."

Probably going in the top 10? More like definitely going in the top ten. Gholston is a terror in the backfield which has teams salivating at his Shawn Merriman-like potential.

"I love getting after the quarterback and affecting the game that way," said Gholston at the Combine.

However, he will play wherever he is told. "But at the end of the day, whatever the team that picks me wants."

Last, but not least, scenario four: this one is quite simple really – the Ravens determine that there is more value to the franchise by trading down.

This way, the Ravens can be sure to get one of the second tier quarterbacks (Chad Henne, Joe Flacco or Brian Brohm) rather than leaving it up to chance in the second round.

One thing is absolutely clear, if Ryan is out of the equation, the Ravens face an even tougher decision and it's a decision that will have a lasting effect on the franchise's future.

Hank Nathan is a guest columnist for Ravens Insider and a journalism student at Washington & Lee.


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