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Friday, June 2, 2023

Top mid-round Ravens draft prospects 

The Baltimore Ravens have traditionally done well after the first round of the NFL Draft. Players such as defensive tackle Brandon Williams and tight end Mark Andrews are good examples of non-first round hits.

   This year the Ravens can continue with their trend by adding impact players on Day 2 and Day 3. Here’s a look at a couple of prospects that general manager Eric DeCosta could target on Friday and Saturday with analysis from NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein:

Cornerback Roger McCreary, Auburn

   Press-man cornerback with physical limitations that could create occasional roller-coaster matchups on Sundays. McCreary is aggressive, with the play strength to bully the release and alter route timing. He lacks fluidity in lateral transitions from off-man and lacks make-up burst to stay connected to cross-country routes. Tall receivers have advantages on jump balls and fades, but finding catch space will be a chore for opponents when he’s in phase on vertical routes. He has average starting talent as a CB2/3 but needs to operate in a scheme that allows him to play hugged-up coverage, limiting operating space for wideouts.

EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan 

   Emerging edge defender who should see a substantial leap in play consistency with more time to work on his technique and learn the game. The upside is evident, despite his inexperience. At times, the run tape can be a rough study, but it improved as the 2021 season progressed. Ojabo’s rush approach is fairly sophisticated with the feet and agility to juke, stutter, spin and race his way past offensive tackles. He’s not ready to take on pro run blockers, but Ojabo is in the early stages of his physical and play development. The Achilles tear he suffered at his pro day is likely to hurt his draft stock, but it will be hard for teams to pass on his upside if he remains available in the second round.

Wide Receiver Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech

   Productive three-year starter with desired combination of size and foot quickness. Ezukanma has enough speed to get down the field and challenge coverage while displaying an innate sense for protecting and finishing contested catches underneath. The route tree has been limited by scheme, but he’s not as polished with the routes he runs as he should be for his experience level. Size, ball skills and toughness work in his favor as a quality backup with some upside.

Center Chasen Hines, LSU

   Burly, strong center/guard prospect whose strengths lend themselves to a fit with a power-based rushing attack. Hines can create run lanes as an aggressive drive blocker and is effective hitting targets on the move on pin-and-pull reps. He needs to drop some weight and improve his hand placement in order to sustain blocks as a pro. He protects the pocket with decent technique but might not have enough mirror to keep the gaps clean as a full-time guard. Hines has early backup value along the interior line with eventual starting talent that is best-suited at the center spot.

Inside Linebacker Chad Muma, Wyoming

   A high-cut linebacker, Muma has a nose for the football but his methodology for getting there will need an upgrade to earn NFL playing time. He falls prey to false steps and wasted motion at times. He has a see-ball, get-ball mentality and hunts runners with good build-up speed and an aggressive demeanor. Patience and leverage are below average when fitting up inside runs and flowing to outside runs. He needs to improve at slipping and taking on blocks if he’s going to play inside. Muma profiles as a backup inside/strong-side linebacker with four-phase special teams talent that should lock him into a roster spot as a Day 3 selection.

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