Ranking the Ravens' draft priorities

April 22, 2010

Rating the Ravens' priorities

1. Tight end: High. The Ravens have no backup and need to find an heir apparent to Todd Heap. If they fail to get one in a very deep position for this draft, the Ravens could pick up a veteran like Ben Utecht.

2. Defensive line: High. Cory Redding was signed as a stopgap at end, and Kelly Gregg has had two surgeries the past two seasons. The Ravens need to inject some youth to go along with Haloti Ngata.

3. Cornerback: Moderate. Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb are coming off season-ending knee surgeries. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the team would like to add two more corners, whether in free agency or the draft.

4. Wide receiver: Moderate. This position was the most significant upgrade in free agency. But the Ravens need some long-term stability in a group that has Derrick Mason (36 years old) and Donte' Stallworth (one-year deal).

5. Safety: Moderate. Ed Reed hasn't announced whether he's retiring or returning, and Dawan Landry could be a free agent next season. Even with Tom Zbikowski, the Ravens need to address depth here.

6. Running back: Moderate. There's no immediate need here, but the Ravens would like to dump Willis McGahee's pricey salary for a backup ($3.5 million). If the Ravens add a running back in the draft, the team could shop McGahee for a possible third- or fourth-round pick (perhaps Detroit).

7. Special teams: Low. The Ravens would like to add competition for kicker Billy Cundiff, but they'll likely sign a veteran free agent. It wouldn't be surprising if the Ravens try to upgrade at returner.

8. Offensive line: Low. There's no gaping void on the line. It would be a luxury to find a center for the future and perhaps someone who could be groomed to play right tackle (if Jared Gaither is traded this year or next).

9. Linebacker: Low. At some point, the Ravens are going to have to think about the futures of Ray Lewis (34years old) and Jarret Johnson (signed through 2011). But that time isn't now.

10. Quarterback: Low. The Ravens have three developing young arms. If the Ravens did decide to draft a quarterback, backup Troy Smith might get his wish to go elsewhere.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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