Here's the No. 8 need for the Ravens heading into next week's draft-- a No. 3 tight end.
The Ravens are looking at making sure they can keep themselves among the NFL's best teams for a long period of time. They don't want to win just one Super Bowl and walk away. A big part of that involves keeping enough depth on the team, and tight end is one of those positions where the Ravens could need some help.
The big question at this position does involve the future. Both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson stand to be unrestricted free agents next year. Are the Ravens going to be able to re-sign both players?
If the answer is no, then they'll likely want to think about bringing in a rookie this year to learn the Ravens' way of doing things, get used to the system and then, if the team does lose one of the two tight ends next year, be ready to step in.
They've done this before in several different places. Look back to 2001 when they picked Todd Heap in the first round of the draft-- even though the Ravens already had future Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe as the starter. Heap came in, learned from Sharpe and took over with no trouble when the veteran left after that season.
If the Ravens can draft a tight end, he could take this season to learn with little or no pressure. He'd just need to be ready when it's time to move up to the No. 2 spot next year -- or higher.