Your Monday Reality Check-Are Ravens better after Draft? I guess…

April 30, 2012 | Glenn Clark

I think Courtney Upshaw will immediately slide into the role of starting SAM linebacker, where he might prove to be even more dynamic than Jarret Johnson. The addition of Upshaw should allow Paul Kruger to stay in the mix in multiple defensive roles, adding depth to Dean Pees’ entire front seven.

I think Kelechi Osemele will wind up starting at left guard in Week 1 when the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. His size might not make him an ideal option at tackle immediately, but perhaps he could develop into a right tackle for the team for years to come. Osemele’s arrival could lessen the sting of Ben Grubbs’ departure to New Orleans.

I think Bernard Pierce provides the Ravens an obvious choice as a backup to Ray Rice. I think he should provide a unique complement in the backfield, offering the team another option in short yardage situations. I also think he’ll have the ability to take a number of consecutive handoffs, a skill that was particularly undervalued from former Ravens backs Ricky Williams and Willis McGahee.

I think Gino Gradkowski will immediately become the primary backup at all three of the Ravens’ interior O-Line spots. He may well prove to be the team’s center of the future as we approach what will likely be the end of Matt Birk’s career. The team used veteran Andre Gurode in the role last season, but had not filled the vacancy yet in free agency.

I think Christian Thompson provides much needed depth at safety, as the team had only added Sean Considine at the position after losing both Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski in free agency. I think Thompson’s already existent relationship with Ed Reed will help him grow as a NFL player. I think both safety positions and an important special teams role are in Thompson’s future.

I think Asa Jackson will find himself in a crowded secondary, but his ability to return kicks (and punts) will give him a chance to make the team and significantly contribute. Even with Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworth gone, it seems unlikely he’ll be able to get into the mix at cornerback. However, the Ravens would prefer to keep Lardarius Webb away from punt returns and have never seen the growth they’ve wanted from David Reed in kick returns.

I think DeAngelo Tyson is joining a defensive line that hasn’t been this thin in some time. The departure of Cory Redding will lead to more playing time for both Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, and the team no longer has players like Brandon McKinney, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou as backups.

I think Streeter could compete immediately to become the team’s third receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.

I even think some of the team’s undrafted free agent signees could end up making the team, including Morgan State TE LaMont Bryant, Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey and Baylor DL Nick Jean-Baptiste.

With all of that said, I have absolutely no idea if I’m going to be right about any of these observations.

I think the Baltimore Ravens are better after the NFL Draft, but I really have no idea how much better they are.

I’ll be spending four hours every afternoon for the next four months trying to figure that out.

Carry on.