Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Many organizations say they always take the best player available on their draft board. The Baltimore Ravens proved it when they were on the clock Thursday night.

The Ravens used the No. 17 overall pick on Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley when they could've addressed two of their biggest needs: safety and offensive tackle. Baltimore had its choice of the two best safeties in the draft -- Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor -- and passed on both of them. The Ravens could've reached for an offensive tackle like the Miami Dolphins did when they chose Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James, a second-round prospect, with the No. 19 overall pick.

Instead, the Ravens went with the highest ranked player on their board.

"People always ask about best available player and what that means," assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "[Mosley] was the best available player on our board, and he would have been the best available player on our board at [No.] 10. "

I wonder what the Ravens' decision would've been if Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin was available at No. 17. Martin was taken by the Dallas Cowboys one spot before the Ravens, an order that was determined by a coin clip three months ago.

If the Ravens had selected Martin, he would've started at right tackle, the biggest question mark on the team right now. According to Mosley, his agent said the Ravens were deciding between him and Martin before the Cowboys made their pick.

When asked whether Martin was under consideration, Newsome didn't answer the question directly.

"The board was stacked very well," Newsome said. "All of the players that went before us are players that we had considered at the 17th pick.”

Newsome was more definitive when discussing the Ravens' opportunities to trade back in the first round, something they've done in three of the previous six drafts. The Ravens got offers during the first four minutes while on the clock, but there was no "bonanza" deal that would get them out of that spot.

"Nothing came close to what we felt like the value was for us to move back that far," Newsome said.

In the end, the Ravens had a choice between Mosley and one of the top safeties in the draft. But it wasn't much of a decision, according to the Ravens.

“C.J. was the clear-cut guy at that pick," Newsome said.
A look at what the media is predicting for the Baltimore Ravens with the 17th overall pick:

Jamison Hensley,
Pick: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Hensley's comment: The prevailing thought is the Ravens will trade down because Ebron, Clinton-Dix and Martin are all off the board. But the Ravens will stay and take Mosley, a top-10 talent in this draft. Yes, offensive tackle and safety are clearly bigger needs. Mosley is too good to pass up for the Ravens.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Kiper's comment: This guy is a difference-maker in the passing game, a long, fast matchup problem with the size to drag corners who try to pull him down after he makes the catch. The Ravens added Steve Smith, but they shouldn't be out of the game for another major target in the passing game.

Todd McShay, ESPN
Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
McShay's comment: I've had Ebron going as high as the top 10 previously, but I think he makes more sense down here at No. 17 for the Ravens. They need another pass-catching weapon for QB Joe Flacco, and Ebron is a big-play threat who can stretch the seam and also make plays after the catch.

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
Pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Banks' comment: With both consensus first-round safeties already selected (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor), the Ravens would rebound nicely by finding Lewan still available. He'd shore up the right offensive tackle slot that Michael Oher vacated and help Baltimore get back to running the ball consistently in the rough and tumble AFC North. If Lewan and the safeties are all gone, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley makes sense as a mid-round pick with proven playmaking ability.

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football
Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Campbell's comment: It makes a lot of sense. Gary Kubiak loves his tight ends, and he only has one reliable tight end on the roster right now. Owen Daniels was signed, but he's been very injury-prone recently. Besides, he was brought on for only a one-year contract.

Charles Davis,
Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Davis' comment: Will pair with last year's first-round pick, Matt Elam to give Baltimore a formidable last line of defense.

Nate Davis, USA Today
Pick: Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Davis' comment: Whether he's a tackle or guard, Martin would solidify a line that left QB Joe Flacco (48 sacks) on his back far too often in 2013.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Jeremiah's comment: Clinton-Dix would fill a pressing need, but Ebron is the bigger talent.

Peter King, The MMQB
Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
King's comment: Party in the Ravens' draft room. They love Ebron's ability to be an instant force in the passing game and, combined with Dennis Pitta and perhaps Owen Daniels, the Ravens will have the best tight-end depth chart in football. Joe Flacco is very, very pleased.

Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports
Pick: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Kirwan's comment: The Ravens still need offensive linemen but they are too smart to reach. Pryor is a free safety with over 200 tackles and he forced 9 fumbles.

Mark Maske, Washington Post
Pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Maske's comment: This probably would be a bargain for the Ravens if Dennard falls to them at 17th.

Mike Mayock,
Pick: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Mayock's comment: Mosley is a great fit for the Ravens -- an inside linebacker who played in a 3-4 at Alabama. He makes this defense better immediately.

Gary Myers, New York Daily News
Pick: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Myers' comment: Start with theory that it never hurts to take one of Nick Saban's defensive players. And add to that GM Ozzie Newsome is an Alabama man. Mosley is best ILB in draft, and Ravens lost a pretty good one when Ray Lewis retired after 2012 season.

Ourlads' Scouting Service
Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Ourlads' comment: Athletic enough and by scheme design does not let a receiver get on top of him. As the last line of defense, he lines up at 10-12 yards deep. Keeps good position on receiver and jumps a ball carrier once he crosses the line of scrimmage. Reads things quickly. Good ball skills and has the range of a center fielder.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Prisco's comment: He isn't a huge need, but the talent is there. The Ravens would see the value.

Rob Rang, CBS Sports
Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Rang's comment: General manager Ozzie Newsome is a master on draft day in large part because he sticks to the "best player available" strategy. While the hole at right tackle might literally be the Ravens' biggest need, pairing Clinton-Dix with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam would give Baltimore a fierce, physical and instinctive young deep patrol.

Peter Schrager, Fox Sports
Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Schrager's comment: I haven't seen Clinton-Dix mocked to the Ravens many other places, but it'd make some sense if he fell all the way to 17th overall. Safety is a position of need (Matt Elam could play one spot; Clinton-Dix could play the other), and Ozzie Newsome loves his Alabama guys.

For all of the Ravens' draft news and analysis, remember to follow me on Facebook and on Twitter.
With two days until the NFL draft begins, here is another potential draft prospect for the Baltimore Ravens:


Position: Safety

School: Louisville

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 207 pounds

Round projection: First round

File this away: Pryor put together a streak in which he knocked out an opponent in three straight games.

Good: Pryor is a tone-setter with his physical style of play. He brings intensity and an intimidating presence to the field. His aggressiveness often overshadows his instincts. Pryor is also great at diagnosing a play before the snap and can bait quarterbacks into throws. He has enough range to play center field in zone coverage, although he's better playing in the box.

Bad: Pryor is limited in coverage. He wasn't asked to cover the slot in college and can get beat when placed in man-to-man coverage. There were times when Pryor allowed too much separation and got burned on double moves. His ball skills are considered average.

Bottom line: There has been a debate over whether Pryor or Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the better safety. From the Ravens' perspective, Clinton-Dix is a better fit because he has more range. Pryor is more of a hybrid safety, and NFL Network's Mike Mayock doesn't see him as a good complement to Matt Elam, the Ravens' first-round pick from a year ago. For that reason, Pryor can't be ruled out for the Ravens in the first round, but there are other teams who are probably higher on Pryor than the Ravens.

What Pryor said: "My father really instilled [toughness] in me at a young age. When I used to fall on the ground and I think I hurt myself, he would just tell me to get back and just keep going and it caught up with me later in life."

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Ravens 

April, 17, 2014
In Mel Kiper Jr.'s previous three mock drafts, he had the Baltimore Ravens going offense in the first round. He had the Ravens picking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron in his first two mock drafts, and he went with Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks in his third one.

Kiper's latest mock draft is out on ESPN Insider on Thursday, Insider and he has the Ravens taking a defensive player with the No. 17 overall pick.

It's time to click open our Baltimore Ravens Twitter mailbag ...

The Baltimore Ravens' two biggest needs are offensive tackle and free safety. So, what happens if Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin and Louisville safety Calvin Pryor are both sitting there when the Ravens pick at No. 17?

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Martin gets "the slight nod" at No. 17. Kiper has Martin rated as his 20th-best player in the draft and ranks Pryor two spots behind him.

What really stands out for Kiper is Martin's versatility.

"He can play left tackle if [Eugene] Monroe got hurt," Kiper said. "You can immediately pencil him in as a starter at right tackle. He can play guard, too."

Martin solidified himself as a mid-first-round talent with his consistency at Notre Dame and a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. Pryor, however, hurt his stock after the season.

"Pryor didn't test that well but he played very, very well at Louisville," Kiper said. "He was one of [coach] Charlie Strong's favorite players. On performance, he'd be a top-15 pick. His workouts weren't impressive as a first-rounder. But you put it all together, he'll probably be a late one."

The Ravens may face this same scenario when the first round takes place May 8.