Well the first day of the Ravens draft is in the books and it was definitely not “flashy.” Not that ours usually is, but with all the reports and mock drafts, I can’t say I saw these as our picks. I completely understand the choices and they are definitely great draft picks. But, with the players that were left on the board when the Ravens traded up to 23, I thought there was some big -name standout Ozzie and the gang wanted desperately. And apparently so did the analysts and the few Ravens fans they showed at Radio City. They showed Oher in the green room on the phone and the guys said “Oh, it looks like Oher’s got the call,” in a sort of surprised fashion. And when Michael Oher’s name was called, I saw one Ravens fan with his hands on his head saying “What?” and the other look confused for a few seconds and then clapped hesitantly. I was a little surprised at the choice, but after having some time to think about it, I do understand it better. Obviously we can say get a WR…we desperately need someone big for Flacco to throw to, etc. But if he doesn’t have the line to protect him, it doesn’t matter who’s running down the field. With the addition of Oher, the Ravens have the potential to be one of the best 0-lines in the league, with already existing players of Gaither, Anderson, and Grubbs. Oher was rated the 4th best OT in the draft, behind Jason Smith, Andre Smith, and Eugene Monroe. He’s 6’5″, 308, with very long arms to keep back the defensive lineman. And with seeing some really good defensive teams this year in Pittsburgh, Minnesota, San Diego, and New England, we need to make sure our o-line stays strong and healthy, and this definitely makes sure we have depth there. Besides the physical capabilities, Oher also has the mental aspect. He went from homeless, to bouncing around foster homes, to getting adopted by a wonderful family, to being an All-Americcan and SEC first-team pick. He seems completely grateful and humble for all he’s been through and done. And that character, I’m sure, is what drew him to Ozzie and the rest of our staff.
Our second round pick was Paul Kruger, defensive end out of Utah. He most importantly has a strong work ethic (which the Ravens strive for), good speed and size, and is versatile. He does need a season or two for some mentoring in order to ready and better himself for the NFL, but we have the players that would help him do that. The Ravens feel that he has outstanding character, is hard-working, and that he represents what a Ravens player should be. That sounds like a good choice to me.
I am still surprised that neither a Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin trade didn’t go through with somebody. And as I watched the Titans, Eagles, and Giants all pick a WR for their first pick, I thought that would put us as front-runners. But day 1 went by with no flashy trades for us. Since it sounded like the Cardinals were decreasing their asking price down to a second-round pick and other compensation, I definitely thought we would consider it. The only obvious hangup would be paying him the high $8-10 million per year salary he supposedly wants, and that would be putting too much of a dent into the salary cap.
Some other NFL draft day observations:
—The Jets trading up to get Mark Sanchez wasn’t surprising, but the Cleveland Browns definitely got a good deal out of that high-price trade. They got 3 players, including a QB, and got the Jets’ first and second-round picks. That was one of 3 times the Browns traded down and they then started stock-piling draft picks. Obviously, Sanchez is to be the Jets’ franchise quarterback and hopefully for them he pans out. But they are putting alot of stock in this guy to be “it” real soon, especially since they have alot of the other positions very well taken care of and primed for a playoff run.
—After all that trading down, Browns fans were getting very antsy and then were ultimately unsatisfied with the selection of C Alex Mack. There were definitely better players up on that board when they chose, particularly WR Brian Robiskie, who was coveted by fans since he was an Ohio State local. He eventually was picked up with their second pick, but not without some kind words by the fans first.
—A team who I thought had a great draft day were the Miami Dolphins. They got a great CB in Vontae Davis and got QB/WR Pat White in the second round. Davis is a tall and talented corner and White is exactly what they need for their wildcat offense. White does have great talent as a QB, but while he’s learning the NFL and priming himself to potentially takeover for Pennington, he can also be utilized in an offense that the Dolphins thrived on last season.
—The Raiders took Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, with no real surprise, since Al Davis likes (maybe I should say loves) speed. One analyst said “He’d take a greyhound first if it was in this draft.” Heyward-Bey should never of been the first WR taken off the board…that should of been Crabtree. Well, Davis will be happy when he sees him getting to the ball fast, but it will soon turn to gloom when he drops the pass.
—Denver is an absolute mess. Why on earth do they draft a RB for their first pick when they signed 3 in free agency (still don’t understand that…do they think they’re going to need 8 of them next season too) and their defense is HORRIBLE!! Then to make matters worse they trade their first pick of next year’s draft to Seattle’s second-round pick, and wasted it on CB Alphonso Smith. They singlehandedly have just made the Chargers the division champs already for next season, and they’ll probably finish behind the Chiefs too.