OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The pick: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
My take: The Baltimore Ravens will take some criticism for taking an inside linebacker over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the top-rated safety in the draft. But this is a "best player available" pick more than a need one. Mosley is a future Pro Bowl player who can be the future face of this defense. Mosley's toughness, elite instincts and exceptional athleticism make him the best inside linebacker in this draft. He's an explosive tackler who plays sideline to sideline. Mosley has great football intelligence and rarely makes mental mistakes. He'll make a couple of plays a game because of his film study. He has good awareness in zone coverage and is quick enough to cover running backs man to man. A strong leader, Mosley will line up his teammates.
Following Ray Lewis: There are going to be a lot of comparisons made between Mosley and Ray Lewis. Mosley is the first inside linebacker taken in the first round by the Ravens since Lewis in 1996. His first season comes at a time when the Ravens are erecting a statue of Lewis in front of M&T Bank Stadium.
What's next: The Ravens didn't address their two biggest needs, offensive tackle and safety. Some tackles who could be available in the second round include Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Nevada’s Joel Bitonio. At safety, the Ravens could take someone like Washington State's Deone Bucannon, Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward or Florida State's Terrence Brooks. The Ravens will start looking at running backs in the third round because starter Ray Rice is facing a possible suspension from the NFL and backup Bernard Pierce is out until training camp after undergoing shoulder surgery.