The Baltimore Ravens are upon us on day 15 of Draftmas.
The Baltimore Ravens were plagued by injuries for a second straight season, resulting in an 8-8 record. The most disappointing part about this finish was that they were just one win away from a playoff berth, if they could have only beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas. In that game, the Ravens had a lead going into the 4th quarter, but their defense completely collapsed. That one quarter helps show how a team once known for its unstoppable defense, needs to focus a lot of attention on upgrading that side of the ball this offseason.
It has been a somewhat quiet offseason for the Ravens. The team made some changes at the position coach level, but all three coordinators are returning for another season as well as head coach John Harbaugh. Wide receiver Steve Smith also announced his retirement and the team will need to find a replacement.The best move the Ravens have made this offseason was resigning Brandon Williams to a long term deal. Williams, 26, is one of the best nose tackles in the NFL and a great run-stuffer in the 3-4 defense. The Ravens also spent the offseason cutting underperforming veterans including outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and cornerback Ladarius Webb.
The signing of safety Tony Jefferson from the Arizona Cardinals was also a great move and he will be a definite upgrade over the aging Webb. The Timmy Jernigan trade does not make sense because he is a young defensive end in a position of need for the Ravens who had shown flashes in the past. Jernigan at age 24 is simply too young to justify the Ravens trading him away to move up 25 spots in the third round, Jernigan’s upside is too great. The Ravens did not do much to address their needs in free agency and hope the draft will help fill them.
Ravens Picks and Needs
The Ravens have seven picks in this years draft, including two in the third round. This gives the Ravens enough picks to address their needs as well as build depth on a team that lacks it. Here are the picks:
First Round: 16th Overall
Second Round: 47th Overall
Third Round: 74th –from Eagles for Timmy Jernigan and 99th overall pick
Third Round: 78th Overall
Fourth Round: 122nd Overall
Fifth Round: 159th Overall
Sixth Round: 186th Overall- from 49ers for C Jeremy Zutter and 198th overall pick
The Ravens have some glaring needs on both sides of the ball. The defense has holes at almost every position besides safety and nose tackle. The team has a decent offense, but the offensive line is their weakest unit and needs to be upgraded in order to keep Joe Flacco healthy. The team also needs to find a replacement for Steve Smith. Here are the Ravens’ needs:
Here I will project the Ravens picks in the first three rounds assuming there are no trades.
16th Pick: Cam Robinson OT, Alabama
The Ravens are in desperate need at offensive line this offseason with the departure of Ricky Wagner to the Giants. This pick has decent value at this point of the first round and Robinson is the only tackle graded as a first rounder. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has always liked picking Alabama players and it has been reported the Ravens are high on Robinson. Wide receiver John Ross out of Washington could also go here as a successor to Steve Smith.
47th Pick: Curtis Samuel WR, Ohio State
The Ravens get their replacement for Steve Smith here. Samuel has a very similar skill set to Steve Smith and should be used as a vertical threat in the pros. I could also see the Ravens addressing the rush linebacker spot here, but this is a deep class for edge rushers.
74th Pick: Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn
Lawson played defensive end in college, but a lot of people think he will fit in better as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He provides great value for the Ravens at this point. While he was productive when he was healthy in college, Lawson does have a little bit of an injury history, which is why he is a third round pick.
78th Pick: Kendall Beckwith, ILB, LSU
Baltimore needs another inside linebacker to pair with C.J. Mosley. Beckwith has experience playing in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense in college at LSU and did well in both schemes. Although he is a third round pick, he may be able to compete for a starting job and at the very least will provide good depth.
The AFC North is likely going to be a two horse race between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Ravens can compete for a playoff spot with some good additions in this draft class, if they stay healthy.
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