Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
My pick for Ravens in NFL Nation mock

By Jamison Hensley

In ESPN's NFL Nation mock draft, I had the Baltimore Ravens select Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley with the 17th overall pick.

I know what you're going to say. What about taking a safety? Why not take an offensive tackle? Shouldn't the Ravens trade down?

My answer: No, no and no. Mosley is an immediate starter with Pro Bowl potential. The Ravens couldn't pass on such an impact player. This was a "best player available" pick more than a need one.

Inside linebacker isn't a priority. The Ravens re-signed Daryl Smith this offseason and invested a second-round pick in Arthur Brown last year. But, unlike both of those players, Mosley can be the centerpiece of this defense for next decade. Brown could be another second-round pick who needs more time to develop (like Paul Kruger, Chris Chester and Terrence Cody).

The NFL Nation mock draft didn't do the Ravens any favors. Some potential targets were gone by the time the Ravens were on the clock: Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix went to the Detroit Lions at No. 10, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron was selected by the Tennessee Titans at No. 11 and Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin was taken by the Dallas Cowboys at No. 16.

One option was trading back, something the Ravens have done quite often over the years. ESPN's team reporters from the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers inquired about trading into the Ravens' spot, so there was an opportunity to move back in the first round and acquire more picks.

Mosley, though, represented too much value at No. 17. He's the consensus top inside linebacker in this draft, and Mel Kiper Jr. has him rated as the draft's No. 9 prospect. If the Ravens weren't going to be able to move back and get Mosley, the Miami Dolphins would've selected him at No. 19.

Other considerations were a highly rated cornerback like Kyle Fuller or an offensive tackle Morgan Moses. In the end, Mosley was the pick because he is a difference-maker.