<
>

Mel Kiper mock 3.0: Ravens take unique offensive tackle

One of the biggest surprises in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft was the Baltimore Ravens selecting offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the No. 16 overall pick.

There is a need because the Ravens lost starting right tackle Rick Wagner to the Lions in free agency. There's even symmetry to it: one Wisconsin lineman takes over for another.

But the growing consensus has been the Ravens will take a wide receiver, cornerback or pass- rusher with their first-round pick. Kiper links Baltimore to Ramczyk even though there are a handful of playmakers -- wide receivers Corey Davis and John Ross, pass-rushers Charles Harris and Derek Barnett and running back Dalvin Cook -- still on the board.

While the selection of Ramczyk will raise eyebrows, there is logic behind it. Coach John Harbaugh said at the end of the season the team needed "to build a great offensive line," and the Cowboys and Raiders showed the power of being strong up front.

The other factor is there aren't many quality offensive tackles in this draft, so the thinking is teams that need one should get one as early as possible. ESPN's Todd McShay pointed out that offensive tackle is among the weakest positions in this draft with only three prospects in his top 74 overall players.

Ramczyk (pronounced RAM-check) is considered one of the top three offensive tackles in the draft, along with Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson. He is also one of the most unique stories in this draft.

This potential first-round pick only played one year of Division I football. Ramczyk took a year off from football after high school and attended Madison Area Technical College and Mid-State Technical College (Wisconsin) to pursue a career in welding. He returned to playing the game at Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point in his hometown and transferred to Wisconsin, where he became a first-team All-American in his only season there.

The biggest questions for the 6-foot-6, 314-pound lineman is his commitment to the game and his health. Ramczyk underwent hip surgery after the season, and he said there is a chance he could be cleared in time for spring workouts.

"It was an amazing journey for sure," Ramczyk said at the NFL combine last month. "Enjoyed every step of it, wouldn't change a thing."