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NFL draft watch: Ravens line center of attention
April 16, 2012, 5:50 pm
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No doubt when it comes to the Redskins this season, two-round NFL mock drafts are rather drama-free. For Washington’s 2012 opponents, options, options, options. Therefore, leading up to the first round on April 26, we will look at the needs and the projected selections from the pundit class for those on the Redskins upcoming schedule. First up, the Baltimore Ravens, owners of the 29th pick.

Needs: Interior offensive line, inside linebacker, wide receiver, secondary

The Ravens defense justifiably received the bulk of any winning headlines over the past several seasons, but the protection and holes created by the offensive line served to fuel the scoring attack. That unit took a major hit this off-season following the free agent defection of guard Ben Grubbs to the Saints. Veteran center Matt Birk stuck around, but age is not on his side. Same goes for – in theory – Ray Lewis, which is why during the mock draft process some have projected an inside linebacker to the Ravens in the early rounds. Last year’s second-round pick Torrey Smith looks to be a deep threat keeper, but the Ravens could use another receiving weapon. The secondary has been the defense’s weak link for some time and productive safety Ed Reed has plenty of tread on those ball-hawking tires.

Matt Vensel, Baltimore Sun: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. After losing Ben Grubbs, they can plug Konz in at guard and move him to center down the road if needed.

Charley Casserly, NFL.com: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. If they think Konz can play offensive guard, they start him there. Regardless, he can serve as Matt Birk’s eventual replacement.

Evan Silva, Pro Football Talk: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU. Randle has a realistic chance to be this draft’s best receiver.

Notes: Konz has been the popular call here for some time – especially since Alabama ILB Dont’a Hightower figures to be off the board – though some draftniks question his strength after a subpar bench press effort at the combine. Another interior offensive lineman to watch here is Konz’s Wisconsin teammate, guard Kevin Zeitler, who will be the mock draft selection for the Ravens when my update is posted on FFToolbox.com this week…As for second-round scenarios, Casserly sends the Ravens a stellar route-running receiver in Wake Forest’s Chris Givens. For an ILB option, consider California’s Mychal Kendricks, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year who dominated the physical components of the combine. Illinois guard Jeff Allen looks to be a solid round two selection.

Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins, Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C. area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at bstandig@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @BenStandig

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