A year after the Baltimore Ravens went heavy on defense in the draft, many expect them to go the opposite direction.
Count ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay among those who believe Baltimore will go on the offensive this year.
In their two-round mock drafts released Wednesday, Kiper and McShay have the Ravens taking a couple of tight ends, an offensive tackle and a wide receiver -- which hits their top needs.
Kiper has Baltimore selecting Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with the No. 16 overall pick and Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews at No. 52. McShay has the Ravens going with South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst in the first round and Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway in the second.
Andrews and Hurst are among the consensus top three tight ends in this draft. Finding a pass-catching tight end is a priority for the Ravens after not being able to sign one in free agency. Jimmy Graham became too expensive, Eric Ebron chose to sign with the Indianapolis Colts and Benjamin Watson (last season's leader in catches for Baltimore) re-joined the New Orleans Saints.
Baltimore's top two returning tight ends are Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams, who are considered better blockers than receivers. Last year, Boyle and Williams both recorded fewer than 30 catches, averaged less than eight yards per reception and combined for one touchdown.
That's why Andrews and Hurst make sense for the Ravens. Andrews, Kiper's projection for Baltimore in the second round, plays like a big slot receiver at 6-foot-5, 254 pounds. He is a below-average blocker but he's a touchdown machine in the red zone (22 touchdowns in three seasons), which would make him a favorite of quarterback Joe Flacco. Andrews should be available in the middle of the second round.
Hurst, McShay's pick for the Ravens in the first round, is more of an well-rounded tight end with sure hands (one drop on 100 career catches) and solid blocking skills. He is an older prospect (25 when season starts) after spending time in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor-league system. Some project Hurst to go in the first round, but it might be a stretch to take him in the middle of the first round.
Kiper's first-round choice for the Ravens is McGlinchey, who has become a popular pick for Baltimore because he would be an upgrade at right tackle. Baltimore currently has James Hurst penciled in there after declining the option on Austin Howard, last year's starter. At 6-7, 309 pounds, McGlinchey is a physical blocker who is effective because of his technique. The concern is that his lack of ideal athleticism will hinder him against speed rushers.
McShay's pick in the second round for Baltimore is Callaway, who would be a risk because of character concerns. He was kicked off the Florida football team before the start of last season after his involvement in a credit card fraud scheme. An electric receiver and punt returner, Callaway is the type of playmaker that the Ravens desperately need, but it would be a major gamble to draft him in the second round.