Owings Mills, MD While driving to 1 Winning Drive to watch the first round of the NFL Draft, I was struck by a comment made by Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome during a conversation with the team’s official radio partners.
When discussing the possibilities of what the team would do in Round 1, Newsome was quick to point out that the team “needed to win now.”
It was a refreshing take from a veteran NFL executive, the type of take I would personally prefer to hear from executives with every franchise in every major professional sport. That’s not just a stab at the Orioles, either. Given the economics of major professional sports, I think it is all too refreshing for a team to make such a proclamation.
Given what we had been told by the team in recent weeks, I had long assumed that trading out of the 25th overall pick was the most likely scenario for the Baltimore Ravens in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. There was a general feeling amongst the personnel and scouting folks I had talked to both in Baltimore and throughout the country that behind the Top 15 players in the Draft, most of the next 60 were about on the same level.
It really made sense for the Ravens to re-acquire picks after having lost 3rd & 4th round picks in the Anquan Boldin trade with the Arizona Cardinals.
However, the way the 1st Round of the Draft played out, I couldn’t help but think that the “need to win now” would outweigh the team’s desire to acquire picks.
As players like Tyson Alualu and Ryan Matthews unexpectedly came off the board before #25, it appeared more and more as though the Ravens were going to have a player fall into their lap that few pundits would have expected to see available.
And even when the Dallas Cowboys traded up to #24 to select Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, that scenario still played out. Texas LB Sergio Kindle, Tennessee DL Dan Williams and Boise State CB Kyle Wilson were all available after being widely assumed to go earlier in the Draft.
While the best players in the NFL Draft weren’t there at 25, there were players that clearly appeared to be more than capable of helping the team “win now.”
I certainly won’t hand down some sort of judgment that the Ravens made a bad decision in trading their pick for the 43rd, 70th, and 114th overall picks from the Denver Broncos.
It is MUCH too early to offer a judgment like that.
But I will admit that I have mixed feelings about whether or not this deal will help the Ravens “win now.”
There was something telling about Ozzie Newsome mentioning in his post-1st round press conference that the team would have “probably” made the deal even if Dez Bryant was still available at 25.
The inclination that can be made there is that it likely didn’t matter who was on the board at 25. As Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said, the team “wanted more picks.”
The Ravens will have the opportunity to acquire talented players tomorrow and Saturday. When they select at #43, players like Kindle, Alabama DT Terrence Cody, Florida DE Carlos Dunlap, Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski, UCLA DL Brian Price and Virginia CB Chris Cook will all be in play.
By the time any of these players set foot on a NFL field, the Ravens may have proved to have made an overwhelmingly good decision Thursday night.
But on Friday morning, there is certainly reason to wonder whether or not the team is better equipped to “win now.”