Ravens Draft Needs

February 26, 2011 | Michael Schwartz

The Ravens are getting old in many positions on offense and defense. The linebackers are young on one side but old on the other. Terrell Suggs is young and so is the inside linebacker they put next to Ray, but they don’t have a person who is playing next to Ray from week to week. Sometimes it is Jameel McClain and other times it’s Ellerbe. These two guys have been fighting for the job for a year or so and neither has secured it. Obviously, Ray Lewis is old and is going to have to retire sometime. This hurts me to say, because I can’t imagine a Ravens defense without Ray Lewis. I can’t imagine him not coming out of the tunnel on gameday and doing his dance to pump up his team and the crowd. Jarrett Johnson is also getting old and he has been an underrated outside linebacker since coming into the league. The Ravens attempted to address his position last year by drafting Sergio Kindle, but he fell down two flights of stairs and now has a head injury. He wants to come back, but doctors are not so sure. He would have also been a good pass rusher which the Ravens need. The Ravens can get a good linebacker in later rounds; it doesn’t have to be their first rounder. The linebackers will still be playing for a couple of years, but it is something that Ozzie and company must be thinking about.

The wide receivers on the Ravens are pretty old as a group. Boldin, Housh, and Mason all have 600 or more receptions in their career, but Housh and Mason are past their prime. Mason still runs great routes but doesn’t have the same explosiveness he had when he played on the Titans. Housh is not the best role model for the young players that the Ravens have. He gets called for stupid penalties, same with Mason, and he is a possession receiver. Boldin is a physical receiver but isn’t a deep ball threat, he is still in his prime and is someone who will be a Raven in years to come. The Ravens picked up Donte Stallworth in free agency after being suspended for one year. During training camp, he was the deep ball threat that the Ravens had been waiting for. However, when he went in, it was usually a reverse or a fake reverse to him. He wasn’t used as the deep ball threat that he was thought to be. The Ravens drafted David Reed and he was also supposed to have explosiveness. He was rarely used, and has been in some legal trouble as of late. There are many good receivers in this draft such as, Torrey Smith. He attended the University of Maryland, but he is an undersized receiver. He reminds me of Mark Clayton who never panned out as the Ravens planned.

The defensive line has a premier player in Haloti Ngata. He is an all pro and a tremendous player, he is very versatile and can plug up the hole with his sheer size. Cory Redding had injuries for parts of the year, and Terrance Cody is out of shape. He is young but he is overweight and needs to get into shape, because if he doesn’t then the Ravens should get a new nose tackle. The defensive line has had trouble getting to the quarterback for the last couple of years. They had 27 sacks in the 2010-2011 season and were led by outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. Suggs had 11 sacks and played his best games against a hated rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens tried to get good pass rushers in the draft, Paul Kruger and Kindle were supposed to be good at rushing the quarterback. Kindle is injured and Kruger is no longer a Raven. In the draft there are many young pass rushers, however, Ozzie doesn’t mind trading his first round pick for more picks.

The Ravens secondary is supposed to be their weakest spot, but they are not as bad as fans and analyst’s think. Ed Reed is old but the Ravens have players who have showed they could play safety such as, Zibikowski. He filled in for Reed for the first six games and did a great job, but he is not the playmaker that Ed Reed is. Reed is one of the best playmakers in the NFL and he is contemplating retirement. I don’t think Reed will leave for a year or two but if he does the Ravens have a replacement. The Ravens corners are young; they will get better with years to come. Webb has shown improvement since coming into the league two years ago. Washington is a good corner with great speed. He needs to develop the other aspects of an elite cornerback. Foxworth is the oldest corner but he is the best the Ravens have. He missed all of the 2010-2011 season, but will play next year, if there is a season. The Ravens secondary could use an upgrade at corner, but it is not going to come out of the draft. They can get somebody in free agency, because there are very good corners in the market.

I think that Ozzie is going to end up trading our first round pick and get a second and something else. He will probably draft a wide receiver with good explosiveness and hands. In later rounds he may look into a corner, but he will look for a player that can take over when Lewis is gone. Ozzie is one of the best people in the league at scouting players for the draft. The Ravens usually have good drafts, and that should continue this year.

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