It's going to be interesting on draft day when the New York Jets are on the clock at No. 16, and then again before the Pittsburgh Steelers select at No. 24.
According to several reports, the Jets want to select Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and the Steelers like Crimson Tide inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
So, I imagine there will be some tense moments for general manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff Thursday night because either of these players could have a significant impact on the Ravens.
Hightower could become the eventual replacement for veteran Ray Lewis, or Upshaw could fill an immediate need at outside linebacker.
The possibility of adding an Upshaw or Hightower makes this one of the most interesting drafts in recent years for the Ravens. Selecting No. 29 overall in the first round, the Ravens also need help on both interior lines, receiver and at safety.
But it's just not the Ravens' front office getting a little nervous, but players like left guard Jah Reid, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, safety Emanuel Cook and receiver David Reed. They already need to have break-out seasons.
If the Ravens select a player in the early rounds at their position, the competition just got stiffer.
"I certainly have to go in and expect to play," said Reid, about to enter his second season. "I want this position, and it's mine to lose. Just keep working, and I'm not going to worry about anybody else coming in. I just need to work on myself."
All players are concerned.
Just ask for former Ravens left offensive tackle Tony Jones. When the Ravens selected UCLA offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden with the No. 4 overall pick in 1996, Jones squawked.
A year later, he was gone.
If there are two players who Newsome has got the complete book on, it is Hightower and Upshaw. Upshaw was one of college football's premier pass rushers, but at 265 pounds, was physical enough to stop the run.
Hightower is a perfect fit for the 3-4, and few 265-pound players can run like him. Newsome probably has gotten all the inside information from former Ravens director of pro scouting Phil Savage, who does color commentary on Alabama games as well as Nick Saban, who was on the same coaching staff with Newsome in Cleveland.
If one of those players were available around No. 20 or after, Newsome might be willing to trade up, especially if it would hurt Pittsburgh. The Ravens might also want to move up a few slots for Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill.
If they stay at No. 29, it appears Wisconsin center Peter Konz would be a safe pick for the Ravens. He is versatile enough to play guard for a year if necessary while learning his NFL trade from veteran Matt Birk.
That's what makes this year's draft fun.
Meanwhile, over at The Castle, the Ravens opened their off-season training program Monday. While some new players will be coming in soon after the draft, others could be leaving soon if they don't play well in training camp.
Third-year player Sergio Kindle, who was expected to be the perfect complement to Terrell Suggs when the Ravens drafted him in the second round, is on the list. So is Reed, the wide receiver and kick returner.
Kruger's job is safe, he knows it is his time to claim the starting job at outside linebacker vacated by Jarret Johnson, who recently signed with the San Diego Chargers.
"Yeah, like I said, me and Jarret were real good friends when he was here," Kruger said. "I've talked to him a couple times this offseason. So, yeah, there are a lot of things somebody can tell you, and it's easy to listen and say, OK, OK, OK, that's great.
"But at the same time, you've got to just get in there and make it work for yourself. Every situation is different, every player is different, so you've got to kind of find your own little role within the position. There comes a point in time when you've got to just do it yourself, you've got to figure it out and make it happen."
Reid was a third round pick a year ago. The Ravens initially had hoped he might start at right tackle, but he appeared too slow and stiff. They are hoping he might make the transition to guard where he can get help from the center or tackle, but Reid might be another year or two away.
Regardless, it's his time to step up.
"Oh, yeah. I definitely missed out on a lot," Reid said, referring to the owners' lockout last season. "I could see where this would prepare me better for last year if I had been here and been able to take advantage of this. But, I can't worry about that. I just need to work on now and improve what I am doing for this next season."
Cook, in his third season out of South Carolina, plays behind starters Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed, both in the final years of their contracts.
It's not like the Ravens are in rebuilding mode. They swore off that concept after dismantling the team following the 2001 season. It's just time for them to refuel, and pump some new blood and life into this team, either through the draft or young players on the roster.
When: Thursday, 8 p.m. (Round 1); Friday, 7 p.m. (Rounds 2-3); Saturday, noon (Rounds 4-7)
TV: NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN2
Ravens picks: First round (No. 29); second round (No. 60); third round (No. 91); fourth round (No. 130, compensatory pick); fifth round (Nos. 164 and 169, compensatory pick); sixth round (No. 198); seventh round (No. 236).
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