Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome didn't hesitate when asked about which position the club could be seeking help for this week in the NFL draft: inside linebacker is an area of need. And while Newsome hinted that Ravans fans can expect to see additions at wide receiver and running back, and perhaps tight end, as well, inside linebacker could be one the Ravens address early.
Given the lack of depth in the draft at that spot, they would almost have to.
"Inside linebacker, that's an area that we can look to upgrade. We've still got other areas. Even though we signed Dennis (Pitta) and Owen Daniels, we could also possibly look to bring in another tight end," Newsome told baltimoreravens.com. "... Based on the depth of the receivers, the amount of guys we have draftable, we'd be hard-pressed not to draft a receiver with one of those picks."
Alabama's C.J. Mosley is the only inside linebacker projected to be chosen in the first round of the draft, and with his prolific pass-coverage skills and ability to cover flats and play in space, he could ultimately prove better suited for an outside role, anyway. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock's top inside linebackers, after Mosley, include Wisconsin's Chris Borland, Stanford's Shayne Skov, Michigan State's Max Bullough and Louisville's Preston Brown. And analyst Bucky Brooks' four-round mock draft suggests a steep drop-off from Mosley to the rest of the group, projecting Borland as a third-round pick, Skov and Brown as fourth-rounders on Day Three, and Bullough outside the first four rounds altogether.
Newsome, of course, didn't hint at which position the club might be looking to jump on with its first-round pick (No. 17 overall). But the club's official website isn't exactly the right forum to send a smokescreen, so his sentiments on which positions the club sees as a need can be taken more seriously than most other draft-week comments by NFL general managers. Newsome also said he doesn't think the club is in a good position to trade up in the draft.
"We have eight picks, and of those eight, only four are tradeable, the other four are comp picks," he said. "So that kind of limits our ability to go up. But the ability to go back is always there."
As for wide receivers, Baltimore should have a strong field of available options at No. 17 if Mosley is gone. But it also could get skipped in line by a team that needs one more.