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Mailbag: Will Ravens sign Marshal Yanda to an extension soon?

It's time to open up Part One of our weekend Baltimore Ravens mailbag ...

@jamisonhensley: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti mentioned that the team would like to get extensions done with guard Marshal Yanda, cornerback Jimmy Smith and kicker Justin Tucker. Of those three, Yanda is more likely to get done first. Smith and Tucker are looking for their first big paydays, and Yanda has already gone through the process of signing an extension with the Ravens. It's just difficult to put a timetable on it. When Yanda signed his last extension, it was at the end of the July. As I wrote previously, this would be a win-win for the Ravens and Yanda. The Ravens can make sure they'll have one of the NFL's best offensive linemen for the next four to five years, and Yanda can double what he would earn this year. Given that the average salary of the top five guards is $7.63 million, the Ravens could offer Yanda a four-year extension worth $30 million (an average of $7.5 million per year). A signing bonus around $12 million would more than double what Yanda would earn in the final year of his deal ($5.5 million). The Ravens would reduce Yanda's cap number by at least $2 million.

@jamisonhensley: My top three candidates for breakout in terms of national recognition are: guard Kelechi Osemele, nose tackle Brandon Williams and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Osemele has Pro Bowl potential, and Williams and Jernigan have a chance to shine since they're no longer in Haloti Ngata's giant shadow. Jernigan, in particular, really stood out in training camp with the ability to get into the backfield. He had five sacks in his last eight games (including playoffs). Jernigan will have more opportunities after the Ravens traded Ngata to the Lions.

@jamisonhensley: Hardy, an extremely productive receiver at East Carolina, will be among the pass-catchers who will go in the middle of the draft. I'm not sure if he'll be high on the Ravens' list because they need speed, and Hardy lacks quickness and explosiveness. He's got great instincts and isn't afraid to go over the middle. Hardy does add value as a punt returner. But, as owner Steve Bisciotti said recently, the Ravens are looking for receivers who can take the top off defenses. Hardy doesn't fit that category.

@jamisonhensley: The top one to watch is Northern Iowa running back David Johnson, who wowed teams at the NFL combine. He has the size, speed and hands to be an every-down back. Many project him to go in the third round. Here are four other small-school players to keep an eye on: hard-hitting Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt (third round), pass-catching Southern Illinois tight end Mycole Pruitt (fourth round) and edge-setting outside linebackers Zack Hodges (Harvard, fifth round) and Ryan Delaire (Towson, sixth round).

@jamisonhensley: I wouldn't read too much into it. Canty was brought back because of his experience. It's not a sign that team officials like assistant general manager Eric DeCosta lacks confidence in Brent Urban, a fourth-round pick from a year ago who will be given a shot to start. Other than Canty, the rest of the Ravens' defensive linemen are 26 years old or younger. If the Ravens had found a way to keep Haloti Ngata, my guess is Canty wouldn't have been re-signed.

@jamisonhensley: Kamar Aiken impressed me early last offseason, and he worked his way onto the Ravens' roster. It seemed like he caught everything thrown in his direction. Aiken definitely has a place on the team, but it would be a stretch to rely on him as a starter. He's a good role player, and he showed he can step up in a pinch last season when he caught six passes and a touchdown at Miami. The Ravens still need to find a playmaking receiver this offseason.