Ozzie Newsome is one of the best general managers in the league, and his success at finding players in the NFL draft is a big reason why. As we head toward the 2014 draft in May, however, there are a number of directions Baltimore could go with their first-round pick at No. 17.
NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly noted on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" on Tuesday that the team would almost assuredly go with the best player available on their board, but there could be a few options that might work out well, considering the Ravens' needs.
"I've got Zack Martin from Notre Dame," Casserly said. "I like him as a technician. He can slide his feet and plays the run equally well as the pass. To me, he's a better prospect than Jordan Pugh, who started for the Giants last year.
"They also will want to look at Cyrus Kouandjio."
The Ravens are in an interesting spot in this year's draft, given that they're not high enough to get an elite prospect but still in a great position to land a frontline starter in a deep draft.
The latest NFL.com mock drafts are all over the place trying to peg down what Newsome and company will do, probably a result of that "best player available regardless of need" strategy. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks does have the team going with Martin in the first round, but others think the team could land tight end Eric Ebron, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
"If you're going to run Gary Kubiak's scheme, where you need athletic tackles to cut block on the backside, Zack Martin would be the better fit," Casserly said. "The other position they need is the defensive safety position. I'd focus on that in the first round. You've got two players there. You've got Calvin Pryor from Louisville, a physical player who goes downhill.
"The other safety prospect from Alabama, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a true center fielder with good instincts and good range to the football."
If past drafts and current reputation are any indication, if you want to nail the Ravens' pick in a mock draft you'll have to be more lucky than good -- that is, unless, they simply want to listen to Casserly and go with Martin at No. 17.
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.