An Outsider’s Perspective: Ravens’ Draft Needs

April 28, 2014 | Ethan Stewart

I am not a Ravens fan.  Nor am I a Ravens hater.  Being a young Dallas Cowboys fan in Baltimore is a dreary existence considering since the time of my awareness of sports, The Cowboys have consistently been mediocre and the Ravens have consistently been a playoff team.  From an outsider’s perspective, the Baltimore Ravens have been one of the top 3 organizations in the NFL for the past 10-15 years.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Ravens.  I truly wish I could be a Ravens fan, unfortunately I cannot change myself although it would make life so much easier!

Last year wasn’t one of the Ravens’ best as they missed out on the playoffs, however, it seemed as if they were only a few key pieces away from once again being a Super Bowl contender.

Not being a Ravens fan allows me to be fair and unbiased when it comes analyzing the flaws of  the Ravens. Also seeing as I am a local kid, I was able to watch every Ravens game last year and I was able to distinguish the areas where they were clearly lacking.  The defense as always was solid and as long as Suggs and Ngata are conditioned well and healthy going into next season, the Ravens defense will once again be one of the strongest in the league.  The offense on the other hand was hard to watch for most of the season.  There were some bright spots on the offensive side of the ball as Marlon Brown showed the potential to be a nice weapon for the offense in the future and Torrey Smith performed well even in the absence of a legitimate number one receiver like Anquan Boldin.  On the other hand there were plenty of negatives for the offense as well.  Joe Flacco did not perform as well as Ravens fans would have hoped after his masterful performance in the previous year’s Super Bowl run.  Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined to form one of the league’s least effective running attacks.  The biggest problem for the Raven’s offense was the offensive line.  With Kelechi Osemele sidelined for a majority of the season, Bryant McKinnie having to be sent off to the Miami Dolphins because of poor performance,  and Gino Gradkowski having his own struggles in his first year starting for the Ravens, the offensive line was utterly inept as they were unable to pave the way for Rice and Pierce to run well and left Flacco out to dry as he took more hard hits than he ever had in his career.  The addition of Jeremy Zuttah will help out the offensive line so the Ravens should be better in that respect.  This offseason they should still look to add a right tackle as Michael Oher signed with the Tennessee Titans this offseason and the Ravens should also look to add offensive line depth as their lack of depth proved fatal last season.

New Ravens Steve Smith and Owen Daniels are not the answer to the Ravens offensive woes.  Steve Smith has been on a consistent decline for the past 3 years and Daniels has had significant trouble maintaining health over the course of a 16 game season.  The Ravens need some legitimate playmakers and adding aging weapons like Smith and Daniels will only hide the problems for a season or two at best.  The Ravens need to arm their elite quarterback, Joe Flacco, with as much offensive firepower as they can get if they want to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender once again.

The NFL draft is the most important event during the offseason for any team as it can make or break how you will perform in the coming year.  If the Ravens want to make the playoffs, they need to take advantage of the opportunity that they have right in front of them.

These are the 5 players that the Ravens need to consider with their first round draft pick.

Zach Martin

Martin could be an immediate replacement for Michael Oher at right tackle.  He’s a very safe draft pick as he is already a good enough player to start on day 1.  Probably will never be able to make a transition to left tackle, but has the versatility to play either of the guard positions or right tackle.

Eric Ebron

Ebron has the potential to become one of the elite tight ends in the NFL.  Tremendous size, speed, and athleticism.  A very similar prospect to Vernon Davis when he was coming out of the University of Maryland.  The Ravens sorely need a big time playmaker that will be able to be a legitimate red-zone threat.  He’s not a tremendous blocker at this point in his career, but just imagine two tight end sets with Pitta and Ebron.

Marqise Lee

The wide receiver out of USC had a relatively disappointing season in 2013 in comparison to his tremendous sophomore campaign.  If the Ravens or whoever drafts him can unleash the potential that was seen consistently during his sophomore season, Lee could end up being the steal of the draft.

Taylor Lewan

Taylor Lewan was the offensive lineman who grabbed the most headlines during the NFL scouting combine.  Lewan flashed rare strength and athleticism which saw him skyrocket up draft boards.  The hype surrounding Lewan began to slightly fade as reports of him being charged with assault stemming from  bar fight.  This may lead to him being available for the Ravens at the 17th draft slot.

Odell Beckham Jr

Beckham Jr lacks the elite size of a normal 1st round wide receiver, but he makes up for it with very good speed, strong hands, and toughness.  Beckham Jr is also an elite kick returner who could end up supplanting Jacoby Jones in the future.  Very similar prospect to Steve Smith and Antonio Brown.