Immediately following the draft I thought the Ravens did a poor job, and I was very upset with their effort for several reasons. First I thought that Ozzie was swindled out of a fifth round pick when he traded up three spots to draft Michael Oher. He gave up a 5th round pick to move up from 26 to 23 when the Eagles only gave up a 6th round pick to move up from 21 to 19. The Eagles selected Jeremy Maclin, who could be a steal considering his appearance among the top 10 in most mock drafts. According to the NFL draft pick value chart Ozzie gave up 700 pts. (pick 26) and 27.6 pts. (pick 162) for 760 pts. (pick 23) for a total gain of 32.4 pts. While Tom Heckert the Eagles’ GM gained a total of 60.6 pts. when he traded the 21st pick (800 pts.) and 195th pick (14.4 pts.) to get the 19th pick (875 pts.). This obvious discrepancy had me miffed for a while. I also had wanted them to trade down to the second round to get more picks a la the Patriots (who I thought had one of the best drafts) because the best value was clearly in the top half of that round.
In the second round the Ravens selected Paul Kruger DE out of Utah. I think he is an undersized DE for the NFL (6’4” 263 lbs.) and it appears as if he is a project due to his lack of elite speed (5 sec. 40) and elite strength (24 reps at 225). His selection was a surprise to me considering he is going to be a 23 year old rookie with only two years of college experience (in the Mountain West). Kruger has some character concerns having been severely stabbed at a house party last year, one to which the cops were called for other infractions only to find out about the stabbing after they arrived. Kruger also has only one kidney having lost his due to a car accident as a child which could present significant health concerns in the future. I thought the Ravens should have traded down to acquire more picks or possibly selected Jarron Gilbert who at 6’5” and 288 lbs. is bigger, stronger, and faster than Kruger although he is a project as well coming out of a weak football conference (WAC) too.
The Ravens’ 3rd round selection had me puzzled to say the least. Lardarius Webb is from a non-FBS school in Nicholls State and he is considered a tweener, which means that the Ravens have to basically create a position for him as he lacks the ideal size-speed ratio to play corner or safety in the NFL. He too has character concerns which caused him to be dismissed from Southern Miss. One would have thought the Ravens learned their lesson on lightly regarded defensive back prospects from small schools with the recent failure of David Pittman whom they selected in the third round of the 2006 draft. My first thought was that the brain trust is more eager to prove they can successfully draft a small school DB than to make a sound third round choice. Typically the Ravens do extremely well in the first round and later rounds (4-7), but they more often than not select busts in the second and third rounds. D.J. Moore was still available and had a better grade according to the experts on ESPN and the NFL network as well as more production at a higher level in college.
I was also surprised that the Ravens did not select a kicker in the draft considering they let Matt Stover go in the off-season. The selection of Davon Drew was the most perplexing potential blunder because James Casey and Cornelius Ingram, players with superior measureables and production, were still on the board. For all of these reasons I would have given the Ravens a C on Sunday night, but after a day or so I have tried to reexamine the Ravens’ effort.
Upon further review I think the Ravens did an adequate job. Their best decision by far was to trade up to select Michael Oher, although I still think they gave up too much when compared to the Eagles deal; however New England is a shrewder trading partner than the new Browns’ front office (Mankok) so one may have to expect they would ask more in a trade. Oher has the potential to be a rock at right tackle for years, and if he pans out he will solidify a very young and talented offensive line for the foreseeable future. He was rated higher than 23rd on many teams’ draft boards and I saw him in the top ten in several mock drafts so they got tremendous value with his selection.
Kruger is still a toss-up to me but when I listened to Eric DeCosta described him on the Comcast Morning Show with Drew Forrester I had a better feeling about him. I suppose he is a high motor guy in the mold of Michael McCrary but he still needs to gain size to be effective on the end. His age and injury history are also concerns. The Ravens should have moved back from the second round at that point to grab a different pass rusher such as Gilbert, Michael Johnson, or Lawrence Sidbury. http://www.ksl.com/?nid=635&sid=6285559&autostart=y I am still not impressed with Webb having further investigated him although Mel Kiper likened him to Bob Sanders. If he can play as effectively as Sanders then he would be a steal but I think the David Pittman scenario is more likely. The selection of Davon Drew still has me scratching my head in light of the talent still on the board. Eric DeCosta mentioned in his interview that several players did not pass the Ravens’ physical so I can only hope he was explaining the reason for not taking Casey or Ingram. If nothing else the Ravens added to their depth at DB, rush linebacker/DE, and TE. Davon Drew could provide insurance if Quinn Sypniewski cannot recover properly from his season ending injury of last year. http://beta.sling.com/video/show/136305/12/Draft-Prospect:-TE–Davon-Drew Jason Phillips was a very good value pick in the fifth round as he was extremely productive for a very good defensive football team. He should help fill the void left by the departure of Bart Scott, although he is probably a rotational player at best. Phillips is recovering from a meniscus tear he suffered at the combine.
I really think the steal of the Ravens’ draft has to be Cedric Peerman. Peerman had a very good season for a terrible Virginia team last year, he is also said to be one of Al Groh’s favorite players and a high character guy. He has some injury concerns but is a tough runner who had the fastest 40 time at the combine of any RB. I think even with the Ravens’ depth at RB he will make the team. The Ravens’ draft has been made stronger by their additions of rookie free agents. http://video.yahoo.com/watch/4853302/12935650
Their signing of Eron Riley is particularly intriguing because he has very similar measurables to Heyward-Bey, as he is taller (6’3” compared to 6’1 5/8”) and almost as fast with a 4.3 second 40 time. Riley does need to add bulk and gain strength, but he also had more receptions (61 to 42) and TD’s (8 to 5) than Heyward-Bey last year on an arguably worse football team in the same conference. The second excellent pick-up was obviously Graham Gano as the reining Lou Groza award winner he lead the nation in field goals per game (2.18) as well as leading all kickers in points per game (9.5), and his 5 made field goals from beyond 50 yards were the most last year. He will compete with Steve Hauschka to be the starting kicker; however he could also serve as a backup punter having also punted for Florida State last year. He is believed to be the only punter ever to be named the MVP of a bowl game when he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Champs Sports Bowl. http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Graham-Gano-Cantonment-28523 http://video.yahoo.com/watch/4853301/12935654
The Ravens were able to address their needs for a place kicker and a speedy wideout through free agency so in retrospect I think the Ravens earned a solid B from me. They traded up to get Michael Oher which was a fantastic move and they were still able to recoup another pick. I know that the Ravens’ front office has far more experience scouting and selecting players than I do but if you are still reading this blog than you care about my opinion as well, plus the draft is so much fun because of the debate it creates. As always only time will tell how the Ravens fared in this year’s draft.