AFC North: Eric Ebron

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Two of the Detroit Lions' biggest targets returned to practice Friday morning, but it is unclear if either will actually play a snap Saturday night (7:30 ET) against Cleveland.

Calvin Johnson returned from an excused absence Thursday. Eric Ebron missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an undisclosed injury. Considering the Lions' were essentially just doing walk-through-type motions Friday, there was little harm in either player being out there.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell, though, continued to be coy whether either would play against the Browns. He was like that for all of his players, including how long the starters might end up being on the field.

"It depends, you know. We talk about it in a couple different ways," Caldwell said. "We talk about it in both regards actually because you can't tell. If the opposition gets the ball and they have an eight-minute drive and you’re only going to play a group the first quarter, you’ve got to re-think it. There’s just it kind of depends. We have our parameters set."

While Johnson and Ebron returned to practice, running back Joique Bell was absent with what Caldwell said was a non-injury excused absence for "personal reasons."

No matter who plays and who doesn't, it would be surprising to see any Lions starter on the field for more than a couple of offensive or defensive series during the preseason opener.

As for what fans could see offensively from Detroit, expect a lot of different formations and personnel packages.

"Pretty versatile offense but efficiency is the thing that we’re looking for, putting points on the board," Caldwell said.
PITTSBURGH -- Would the Steelers have taken a cornerback in the first round of the NFL draft had either Justin Gilbert or Kyle Fuller -- or both -- been available at No. 15?

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert isn’t saying.

“Sure, there were guys that went ahead of Ryan that were really good players,” Colbert said Monday on TribLive radio. “We were extremely excited [Shazier] was there but there were other players that we would have entertained and maybe didn’t have an opportunity to pick them. But that doesn’t diminish our excitement for Shazier.”

The Steelers really liked tight end Eric Ebron, and the North Carolina product certainly would have been prominent in the discussion that preceded the Steelers' first-round pick had he still been available.

But the Steelers were more than happy to select Shazier, who provides speed, athleticism and versatility to their defense.

The Steelers only took one cornerback in the draft but Colbert echoed comments made by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau that the position is not as lacking as has been widely perceived.

"Cortez Allen we think has a real bright future and he should only get better," Colbert said. "When you’ve got a guy like William Gay and Brice McCain and Antwon Blake and we feel nice about what they’re going to be able to contribute. Blake did a great job coming in [last season] and playing mainly on special teams because he was a late addition for us but he’s going to have a whole offseason to grow as a corner.”

Despite taking only one cornerback -- and waiting until the fifth round to select Arizona’s Shaquille Richardson -- the Steelers have generally gotten good reviews for their draft.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Steelers an A-minus for their draft. ESPN analyst Todd McShay also liked what the Steelers accomplished during the three-day draft.

"I was really impressed. I thought they had one of the better drafts of all the teams in the league," McShay said Monday during a post-draft conference call. "I really thought beginning to end that Pittsburgh did a really good job of finding players that fit their system and do multiple things.”
PITTSBURGH -- The pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers threw a curveball in the middle of the first round when they picked Ryan Shazier No. 15 overall. Most mock drafts had the Steelers addressing cornerback or wide receiver with their first-round pick, and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard was on the board when the Steelers opted to bolster their linebacker corps. Shazier is an inside linebacker who can "flat out fly," general manager Kevin Colbert said. Shazier started 29 consecutive games at outside linebacker for Ohio State, but the 6-foot, 237-pounder will move inside in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. He recorded 315 career tackles, 14 sacks and 44½ tackles for losses. "Quite frankly, the young man's got no holes," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

My take: The Steelers didn't address one of their most pressing needs by passing over Dennard, but they turned inside linebacker into a strength and added speed to a defense that needs more of it. Shazier is fast enough and versatile enough for the Steelers to move around the field and Colbert said he has the capability to get after the quarterback. I like the pick if Shazier is the difference-maker Colbert and Tomlin are convinced he will be at the next level. And if they can find cornerbacks later in the draft who address their most glaring need.

What might have been: Word is that the Steelers really liked North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, and he may well have been their pick had the Lions not taken him at No. 10 overall. Ebron, who caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns last season, would have provided Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with a tall, athletic target, as well as a future successor to Heath Miller. The Steelers have had the 15th overall pick three times since 1991, and all three times they have used it on a linebacker. They picked Lawrence Timmons No. 15 overall in 2007.

What's next: The Steelers have the 46th and 97th picks in the second and third round, respectively, Friday night. They figure to take a cornerback with one of these picks and perhaps a wide receiver. There are enough good wide receivers in this draft that the Steelers can probably still get a good one after the third round if they want to wait.
PITTSBURGH -- Following up on a post about the 14 players I don’t think will be available when the Pittsburgh Steelers select, here are five targets who might be available to them in the first round. I do expect the Steelers to look into moving down in the first round and collecting an extra pick or two.

I ranked these five in descending order based on the likelihood that the Steelers draft them.

5. LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama: Three-down linebacker would make for a nice pairing with Lawrence Timmons, and he could be an immediate starter, as loathe as the Steelers are to play rookies extensively. Mosley had some injury issues in college, so the Steelers would have to be comfortable with him medically to take the 2013 consensus All-American this high. I think the Steelers wait to address this position later in the draft, but Mosley would shore up an area where they could use help if he has checked out medically.

Ebron
4. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina: The best tight end in the draft has drawn comparisons to the 49ers’ Vernon Davis because of his size and athleticism and ability to stretch the field. Ebron would give Ben Roethlisberger a tall, athletic target as well as a complement -- and future successor -- to Heath Miller. The biggest question with Ebron is how much of a blocker he will develop into at the next level. The Steelers will be tempted if he is still on the board at No. 15, and they could try to trade down if Ebron is there and another team wants to move up to take him.

3. CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: There is a ton to like about Gilbert, who has decent size and ran a sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. He intercepted seven passes last season, returning one for a touchdown, and he also excelled as a kick returner. The knock on Gilbert is that he is not the best tackler nor is he particularly strong in run support. Tackling the catch, as the Steelers call it, is essential in Dick LeBeau’s defense, which is why they might shy away from Gilbert.

Dennard
2. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner has Steelers written all over him. He is tough, physical and is exactly the kind of player the Steelers need to start building around at cornerback. The biggest question about Dennard is whether he will still be available when the Steelers make their first pick tonight. A handful of teams picking ahead of the Steelers, including the Lions and Titans, could take a cornerback. If Dennard is on the board when the Steelers pick at No. 15, it might be a coin flip between him and…

1. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: He is similar to Dennard in that he is physical and is good in run support as well as in coverage. Fuller is a little bigger and might have better ball skills than Dennard, something that might appeal to a team that has intercepted just 20 passes in the past two seasons combined. Fuller doesn’t have any flaws in his game, is a high-character guy and would be a really good fit with the Steelers.
With the Baltimore Ravens looking to add a wide receiver and tight end at some point in the draft, here are some numbers from ESPN Stats & Information on some selected prospects at those positions:

FIRST ROUND

Ebron
Eric Ebron, North Carolina TE: Averaged 8.7 yards after the catch, best of any of the top 10 tight end prospects.

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU WR: Caught 26 passes thrown 15 yards or longer downfield last season, most among qualifying receivers. He had multiple receptions on passes of this distance in 7 of 13 games.

Brandin Cooks, Oregon WR: Gained 1,215 yards after the catch over the past two seasons, which ranked fourth among qualifying receivers. During that time, he had 23 receptions in which he gained at least 15 yards after the catch.

Marqise Lee, USC WR: Trojan quarterbacks completed 69.7 percent of their pass attempts with 29 touchdowns and just one interception when targeting Marqise Lee in his career. They averaged 10.3 yards every time they targeted Lee.

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State WR: Produced a first down or touchdown on 83.3 percent of his receptions last season, tied for the third-highest percentage of any FBS wide receiver.

SECOND ROUND

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech TE: Produced 33 receptions of 15 yards or longer, 11th-most in the FBS and 10 more than any other tight end.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington TE: Had only three drops in 149 targets over the past two seasons. His drop percentage of 2 percent is the lowest of any top tight end prospect.

Davante Adams, Fresno State WR: Topped the FBS with 13 receiving touchdowns of 20 yards or longer. He also led the FBS in receptions (131) and touchdown catches (24).

THIRD ROUND

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt WR: Led all qualifying receivers with 44 receptions and 421 yards on screen passes last season. He averaged 9.6 yards per reception on screens.
PITTSBURGH -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay will critique draft picks that are made in less than a week. The ESPN analysts took their own respective turns in the hot seat Thursday night on ESPN2.

Ebron
The two engaged in a head-to-head, three-round mock draft with Kiper picking for teams with even-numbered draft picks and McShay picking for those with odd-numbered picks. Their selections were followed by analysis from former NFL general manager Bill Polian and former NFL director of pro personnel Louis Riddick.

And Polian didn't opt for subtlety after McShay picked North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron for the Steelers at No. 15 overall.

"He's a Pittsburgh Steeler and he doesn't block. That doesn't compute," Polian, a six-time NFL Executive of the Year, said of Ebron. "I don't think he's ready to play in the NFL right now. I think he's too immature. I don't think his feet are firmly planted on the ground. Yeah, he has ability but that only gets you so far."

Ebron may be one of the more polarizing players in the draft.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is the best tight end in the draft and an undeniable talent. Ebron, who caught 62 passes for 973 yards in his final season at North Carolina, has the size and athleticism to create mismatches.

And he is part of the new wave of tight ends who have become such a commodity because of their ability to put stress on opposing defenses.

Ebron would give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a tall target, and he would add a pass-catcher to a group that doesn't have a reliable one after veteran Heath Miller.

But as a blocker he can most diplomatically be described as a work in progress.

Or, as McShay said recently, “He’s a buffet blocker if you will. He kind of picks and chooses when he wants to get interested. But what he does well it’s just hard to find guys that can do it at the level that he does as far as stretching the field vertically and creating after the catch.”

Ebron may be too much of a gamble for the Steelers to pick at No. 15, especially since they have more pressing needs. McShay picked him for the Steelers with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard off the board though with every other cornerback still available.

Riddick said he would have taken a cornerback for the Steelers, and he is especially high on Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller. Polian added of Ebron, "I would not risk this guy in a Pittsburgh offense that requires you to block."

As for the Steelers' other two picks, Kiper took LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry for them in the second round (No. 46 overall). McShay picked Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland for the Steelers in the third round (No. 97 overall).
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The overriding theme of the Baltimore Ravens' pre-draft news conference Wednesday was this team loves picks.

General manager Ozzie Newsome talked about how he likes being able to acquire more picks. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta mentioned a few times how he enjoys collecting picks. Newsome even spoke about how owner Steve Bisciotti is an advocate of gaining as many picks as possible.

If there was a "we love picks" drinking game at Ravens headquarters today, no media member would've been able to walk straight after the 40-minute question-and-answer session. That's why you're going to repeatedly hear about how the Ravens are looking to trade down from now until May 8.

There is logic to it. Newsome acknowledged the Ravens have already fielded calls from teams wanting to move up to No. 17, and the Ravens have traded down three times in the previous six drafts.

I'm just not entirely sold on the Ravens doing it this year. It comes from a story told by DeCosta on Wednesday.

"I was thinking about a trade that we didn't make a few years ago," DeCosta said. "In 2010, we had a chance to trade a player that we had drafted. It would've been a great trade picks-wise. However, we couldn't find anyone to pick. We liked the player so much that we didn't see any player close to that player."

What I took from this is the Ravens love picks but they love particular players more. This story may have some relevance in this year's draft as well.

The Ravens find themselves in a rare draft position in the middle of the first round. From 2009 to 2013, the Ravens entered the draft with these first-round picks: No. 26, No. 25, No. 26, No. 29 and No. 32.

This is the first time in years that the Ravens have a shot at getting an impact player instead of just a prospect at the bottom of the first round that you hope will turn into a long-term starter. The Ravens don't want to be in this area of the first round anytime soon, so I don't see them just moving back to the same spot they've been in for the previous five years.

Who could be there at No. 17? North Carolina's Eric Ebron, the best tight end in the draft. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the top safety in this draft class. Alabama's C.J. Mosley, the consensus top inside linebacker. Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller, who has been ranked as the No. 1 cornerback by some analysts.

Some of these players won't make it to the middle of the first round. But the Ravens also know none of them will be available at the bottom of it.

"We love picks. We've said that a bunch," DeCosta said. "I think it all depends on the trade itself -- who's available and what can we get."

The odds are that a difference maker will be there at No. 17 when the Ravens are on the clock. That's why no one should assume the Ravens are trading back this year.
The fifth mock drafts are out for ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider, and their first-round picks for the Baltimore Ravens have a familiar ring.

Kiper has the Ravens taking North Carolina's Eric Ebron, the consensus best tight end in the draft. The Ravens would be thrilled to land a playmaker like Ebron at No. 17. Ebron was Kiper's pick for the Ravens in his first two mock drafts.

McShay stuck with the offensive theme as well, sending Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin to the Ravens. This is the second straight mock draft where McShay has linked the Ravens to Martin. The Ravens are looking to upgrade at right tackle, and Martin is considered the fourth-best tackle in this draft.

History of Kiper's picks for Ravens

Mock 1.0: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Mock 2.0: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Mock 3.0: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Mock 4.0: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

History of McShay's picks for Ravens

Mock 1.0: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Mock 2.0: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Mock 3.0: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Mock 4.0: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame

Mock 5.0: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
PITTSBURGH – All signs point to the Steelers taking a cornerback or wide receiver with their first-round pick in a couple of weeks.

If they address another position with the 15th overall pick, who might be in play?

I posed that question to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, and he named three players: North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Clinton-Dix, to me, is the most unlikely of the three to get drafted by the Steelers.

The Steelers got younger at safety when they signed Mike Mitchell and they are also expecting a big jump from Shamarko Thomas in his second season.

It’s hard to see the Steelers using a first-round pick on a safety given the investment they have made in the position and the need they have at other positions.

Ebron is an intriguing prospect because of his size and athleticism. He is the top tight end in the draft but there are two questions when it comes to the former Tar Heels star: Will he last until the 15th pick? If he does is Ebron both an able enough and willing blocker for the Steelers to take him?

The biggest concern when it comes to Mosley is his injury history.

He sustained at least three major injuries at Alabama and that might make enough teams wary of taking Mosley that he slides in the first round even though he is a top-1o talent.

“I think he’s going to fall a little bit because of durability concerns,” McShay said Thursday during a conference call with ESPN NFL Nation reporters. “You either pass him [medically] or you don’t. If [the Steelers] view him as a top-10, top-12 pick and he’s there, you can plug and play with that guy. He’d be an immediate improvement over Vince Williams.”

McShay said there is a huge drop-off at inside linebacker after Mosley and Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, a likely second-round pick.

Mosley is ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s ninth-best player in the draft in part because of his ability to cover the pass. Kiper, however, said Mosley is not a good fit for the Steelers even though he could play right away and provide an upgrade at inside linebacker.

“I don’t see Mosley as a Steelers type of linebacker,” Kiper said. “He’s not the most physically imposing inside linebacker, he’s had some durability issues at Alabama. You have to be concerned with Alabama defensive players in general with the success rate they have not had [in the NFL].”
PITTSBURGH -- Mock drafts have, predictably, been all over the place as far as the Pittsburgh Steelers' first-round pick. Most, however, have them taking a wide receiver or a cornerback No. 15 overall, assuming they don’t try to trade down.

I think those two positions are most likely the ones the Steelers will target with their first pick, though North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron could also be in play if he slides a little in the draft.

Ebron
Ebron is the No. 1 player at one of the few positions that is not particularly deep, and he would give the Steelers a tall receiver while also filling a long-term need. I think Heath Miller has at least three good seasons left in him, but the Steelers have to plan for the post-Miller years at some point.

If Ebron is still available when they make the first pick, I think they give him serious consideration, especially if a couple of cornerbacks are already off the board, as well as Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.

The Steelers have eight other picks in the draft, three of which are compensatory selections, including one at the end of the third round. They have a lot of needs -- or as general manager Kevin Colbert would frame it "wants" -- particularly on defense.

Here is my projection of the positions they will address with their nine picks, which is contingent on the Steelers not adding extra ones through a trade.

Cornerback (2): The Steelers could use immediate help here, and they don't have a long-term starter at cornerback after third-year man Cortez Allen. I would be surprised if they don't draft two cornerbacks, with one of them coming in the first three rounds. They drafted two cornerbacks in 2011, including Allen in the fourth round.

Defensive line (2): The Steelers will draft a defensive lineman as early as the second round -- ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has them taking Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III with their second pick in his latest mock draft -- and they need to take at least one end. The signing of Cam Thomas gives them a player with position flexibility, but the Steelers' need at defensive end is every bit as glaring as it is at cornerback.

Wide receiver (1): No position is deeper in the draft, and even if the Steelers don't address it in the first round, they can still get a good prospect later. The Steelers probably won't get a chance to draft Evans unless they trade up in the first round and Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin may be too much of a risk to take at No. 15. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. has been linked to the Steelers in various mock drafts, and they could pull the trigger on him if they have him high on their board.

Linebacker (1): The Steelers have to take a player who projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme given how thin they are at the position. It will be interesting to see what they will do if Alabama’s C.J. Mosley is still on the board at No. 15. Mosley, who projects as an inside linebacker, may be one of the most NFL-ready players in the draft. “He and (Lawrence) Timmons could be your (NaVorro) Bowman and (Patrick) Willis,” ESPN analyst and former NFL scout Matt Williamson said. If the Steelers take Mosley, they will also draft an outside linebacker later in the draft.

Safety (1): The Steelers have hosted at least three safeties for pre-draft visits, including Louisville’s Calvin Pryor, a projected first-round pick. The signing of Mike Mitchell makes it unlikely the Steelers take a safety in the first round but it wouldn't hurt to add another younger player here. The question is whether it makes sense for them to draft a safety -- or instead sign a couple of undrafted free agents -- if they don’t take one in the second or third round.

Offensive line (1): I don't see this as the need that others do. The Steelers got their upgrade up front when they hired Mike Munchak to coach the offensive line and he has plenty of material with which to work. All five starters return, including Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who tore his ACL eight snaps into last season. And the Steelers have depth up front after re-signing Cody Wallace and Guy Whimper. The Steelers will probably take a lineman they can develop later in the draft, but I could also see them not drafting one for the second year in a row if they take two linebackers or a tight end.

Running back (1): The Steelers need depth and they could use a speedster to complement Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. The de-valuing of running backs allows the Steelers to wait until later in the draft to address the position and still get a good prospect. I don't see them taking a running back before the fifth round.
I wrote an earlier post that included ESPN NFL analyst Matt Williamson’s take on what defines a No. 1 pass catcher as part of a larger argument for the Steelers drafting a tall receiver.

What is interesting to note is that tight ends Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are among the players Williamson thinks are bona fide No. 1 receivers.

Williamson followed that piece with one on potential No. 1 receivers, a mix that includes wide receivers and tight ends and players who are already in the NFL as well as ones who will be drafted next month.

Seventh on his list is North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron Insider.

The 6-4, 250-pound Ebron would qualify as a tall receiver and his production and athleticism in college -- he caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns last season -- make him the No. 1 tight end in the draft

Here is what Williamson wrote about Ebron:
While Ebron lacks the height and bulk of Graham or Rob Gronkowski, he might possess better pure speed. This guy can truly stretch the field like few NFL tight ends. Ebron is fluid and smooth, but he also has an instant acceleration burst. He is versatile in terms of his alignment on the field and should be an instant-impact tight end, as he is noticeably above average in all receiving categories for an incoming prospect.

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has projected Ebron going between picks 12 and 18 next month, which would put him in the range of where the Steelers are drafting. What makes Ebron intriguing for the Steelers is he could help right away given the increasing frequency with which teams use two-tight end sets and also give them Heath Miller’s eventual replacement.

Former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik wrote that tight end is a hidden need for the Steelers, which is why he thinks Ebron could be an option Insider for them.

Here is what Dominik, an ESPN Front Office Insider, wrote:
Heath Miller is still a very talented player, and he is a great fit in the Steelers’ offense. However, he will turn 32 this season, and the team needs to find a big-bodied tight end via the draft so Ben Roethlisberger can begin building trust in him. They’ll need a young tight end to take over as their primary target at the position in the near future. North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, the consensus top tight end in this year’s draft, could be in play for the Steelers at No. 15 overall if he’s still on the board.

Also of note from Williamson’s story on future No. 1 receivers is he has LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. fifth on his list -- three spots ahead of Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.

The 5-11, 198-pound Beckham doesn’t have great size but he makes up for it in other areas, writes Williamson:
He gets separation with the more technical intermediate routes, as well as just using his pure ability to run past defensive backs. Beckham is also a good return man and excels with the ball in his hands. I think I'm actually higher on Beckham than most others, but expect him to make an instant impact in the NFL. I could see Beckham landing in Pittsburgh, Kansas City or Carolina in Round 1.

Kiper has the Steelers taking Beckham No. 15 overall in the Grade A Mock Draft he released last week. The mock draft is one in which Kiper’s picks are based on what he thinks teams should do in the first three rounds of the draft.
As you know, Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider don't often agree. But the ESPN draft experts are of the same mind when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens' first-round draft pick.

Both are projecting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron to go to the Ravens at the No. 16 overall pick (the Ravens will have a coin flip with the Dallas Cowboys to determine whether they're choosing 16th or 17th).

The selection of Ebron makes more sense if the Ravens add a wide receiver such as Denver's Eric Decker in free agency. This would give quarterback Joe Flacco a significant upgrade in targets. The Ravens would have Decker, Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown at wide receiver to go along with Ebron and Dennis Pitta (if he's re-signed or given the franchise tag) at tight end.

Tight end is the thinnest position for the Ravens right now. Pitta, Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark are all unrestricted free agents. So, the Ravens will likely take a tight end at some point.

Ebron has good value in the middle of the first round. He led all ACC tight ends in receptions and built a reputation for making impressive catches on the outside and down the seam.

Kiper likened Ebron to wide receiver Anquan Boldin in terms of being a trusted target.

"Ebron is the kind of new-breed tight end who can be split out, line up in the slot or take a hit from a strong side linebacker and get into a route where he becomes a constant matchup threat and a likely winner for contested passes," Kiper wrote.

The other position to watch for the Ravens is wide receiver. In McShay's mock, the top three receivers (Clemson's Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M's Mike Evans and USC's Marqise Lee) are taken in the first 13 picks. In Kiper's mock, Watkins and Evans are gone but Lee is still on the board when the Ravens are drafting.
PITTSBURGH -- This is the fourth in a series in which I will examine every position relative to the 2013 season -- and take a look ahead.

TIGHT ENDS:

2014 free agents: David Johnson and Michael Palmer

Spaeth
Miller
The good: Heath Miller came back sooner -- and played better -- than anyone could have expected less than a year after he tore several ligaments in his right knee, including his ACL. Miller played the fifth-most snaps (874) among offensive players despite missing the first two games of the season and seeing limited action in the third. Miller caught 58 passes, third most on the Steelers, for 593 yards. He also proved to be just as valuable as a blocker, and Miller and Matt Spaeth really bolstered the ground game when they were on the field together.

The bad: Miller had uncharacteristic drops and scored just one touchdown. Spaeth played in only four games, missing the first 12 because of a foot injury. The Steelers did not get much out of David Paulson and Palmer beyond special teams, and Johnson played in just five games before dislocating his wrist and landing on injured reserve. Miller's absence at the start of the season exposed the Steelers' lack of quality depth at the position.

The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Miller's cap hit will be just under $9.5 million but the Steelers can lower that number by signing the ninth-year veteran to a new deal. Miller is going into the final year of his contract, and I will be shocked if the two sides don't reach an agreement on a new deal sooner rather than later. The drop-off after Miller is significant, and he is still one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL. The work ethic that allowed Miller to return to the field less than a year after reconstructive knee surgery also bodes well for him continuing to play at a high level despite the advancement of age. Spaeth's cap hit this year is just over $1 million, making him a bargain if he can stay healthy. My guess is the Steelers will bring Johnson back since the price will be right given that he has played just five games in the last two seasons. The Steelers would probably feel pretty good going into training camp if Miller, Spaeth and Johnson are their top three tight ends and they add another one in the draft.

Draft priority: Higher than it looks. Miller isn't getting any younger and the Steelers certainly aren't oblivious to the matchup problems big, athletic tight ends with soft hands create in a league that is clearly a passing one. There are a couple of tight ends in this year's draft with the potential to be that kind of player. Eric Ebron tops that list, and the former North Carolina star looks like a transcendent talent. Ebron could be in play with the 15th overall pick even though the Steelers have more pressing needs, particularly on defense. I think the Steelers draft a tight end this year, but where they take one is anybody's guess.
The most-asked question I have received since the Baltimore Ravens' season ended is: Who are the Ravens drafting in May?

Kevin Weidl, one of the draft experts at ESPN.com, has a few names for you. His breakdown of all of the draft needs for AFC North teams is an Insider post, Insider which means you'll need a subscription to read the entire piece.

But here are some potential draft targets mentioned by Weidl (along with comment from me):

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan: He isn't at the same level of former Michigan tackle Jake Long, but his size, athleticism and mentality makes him a first-round pick.

OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame: He possesses great strength but his lack of ideal length could make him better suited for guard.

OT Morgan Moses, Virginia: He's a superb pass-protector who allowed two sacks in 506 pass attempts.

G David Yankey, Stanford: His athleticism and footwork allows him to pull and open up holes in the running game.

TIGHT ENDS

Eric Ebron, North Carolina: He led all ACC tight ends in catches and built a reputation for making impressive catches on the outside and down the seam.

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: The 6-foot-5, 260-pound target set the FBS record with 1,352 receiving yards, the most ever for a tight end.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: A former college basketball player, he won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end this season.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa: A solid three-year starter who has reliable hands and is a fine route-runner.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Mike Evans, Texas A&M: A mismatch nightmare at 6-5, 225 pounds, he posted personal highs in receiving yards (1,394) and receiving touchdowns (12).

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State: Raw and athletic, he caught everyone's attention by heading into the BCS National Championship Game with nine touchdowns in his past five games.

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: Other than his strength and ability, what stands out is he became the SEC all-time leading receiver without consistent quarterbacking in his career.

Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: A smaller playmaker (5-10), he broke Pac-12 records with 128 receptions for 1,730 yards this season.

Jarvis Landry, LSU: He recorded 15 touchdown catches and had six games with at least 100 yards receiving over the last two seasons.

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