|• Players To Watch At Combine | 2012 Mock NFL Draft | Where Ravens Need Help •|
By Matt Zenitz
1. Center -- Matt Birk, now 35 years old, is a free agent, and may opt to retire. Regardless of whether Birk decides to return, the Ravens desperately need to bring in a young center, something general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged at the team's "State of the Ravens" address earlier this month.
"Before we line up and play in 2012, there will be another center on this football team in some capacity -- free agency, draft or whatever," Newsome said.
Wisconsin center Peter Konz, a first-team All-Big 10 selection in 2011, could be a possible option for Baltimore during the first round of April's draft.
2. Left Tackle -- There's no denying Bryant McKinnie was once one of the league's best at his position, but he will be 33 next season and is not the same player he once was. He also has just one year left on his contract. Michael Oher, meanwhile, is a better fit at right tackle than he is at left.
Don't be surprised if the Ravens take a serious look at a left tackle such as Mike Adams (Ohio State) if he is still available during the latter part of the first round.
3. Wide Receiver -- Another position Newsome highlighted as a need going into April's draft was wide receiver. Baltimore got solid production from both Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith in 2011, but didn't get much else from the wide receiver position.
Lee Evans endured a frustrating, injury-plagued season, which he finished with just four catches. Undrafted free agent LaQuan Williams was the only other receiver aside from Boldin, Smith and Evans to catch a pass in 2011.
"I think we will still build at the wide receiver spot," Newsome said. "I think we'll work there."
Aside from the need to add a third or fourth receiver, depending on Evans' status for 2012, it's not too early to start grooming a potential heir apparent for Boldin, who will be 32 in October. Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers) and Rueben Randle (LSU) could be options during the first round.
Issue 170: February 2012