The 2014 NFL Draft is less than 2 weeks away and excitement is buzzing throughout all 31 NFL cities. The NFL Draft is the chance for the 31 teams who did not touch the Vince Lombardi trophy in February to build a team worthy to hold that elusive trophy. This has been called “the deepest draft in years” by many. So no matter where your team is picking, chances are, they’re gonna pick a player that will help change the landscape of your franchise.
The Baltimore Ravens hold the 17th overall selection after a disappointing 8-8 season. The 2013 Baltimore Ravens were a team with many holes, and that showed all season. The team never really got back to “Ravens football”, and hurt themselves along the way. Every team has certain needs, and here are the Ravens’ 3 biggest needs.
Offensive Tackle: The Ravens running game was at an all time worst last season. Ravens’ running backs ran for 3.1 YPC, and 83 YPG ranking 30th in the NFL. Highly criticized Right Tackle Michael Oher, left via free agency to the Tennessee Titans, Kelechi Osemele will return from back surgery that kept him out for all of 2013, Eugene Monroe was re-signed to a 5 year contract, Marshal Yanda is returning for his 8th season, and Gino Gradkowski and recently acquired Jeremy Zuttah will battle for the starting center position. The glaring hole at Right Tackle is noted. Notable names linked to the Ravens include Taylor Lewan(Michigan) and Cyrus Kouandijo(Alabama). The Ravens must address this position, whether in the first round or later, but like everyone knows, you can never have too many reasonable offensive linemen.
Safety: For years Ed Reed covered the “center-field walls” of M&T Bank Stadium as the best safety in the NFL. Well, those days are long gone now, Matt Elam is the new sheriff in town. Elam played Free Safety for the Ravens in his rookie season, after playing Strong Safety at the University of Florida. Reports say that Elam would like to move back to his natural strong safety position, especially now with James Ihedigbo leaving via free agency to Detroit. For that to happen, the Ravens obviously have to draft a free safety. Some names to think about at 17: Ha-Ha Clinton Dix(Alabama) and Calvin Pryor(Louisville).
Wide Reciever: It doesn’t seem like WR is a glaring need for the Ravens, especially after signing WR Steve Smith away from the Carolina Panthers last month. However, with Steve Smith turning 35 in May, and Torrey Smtih being able to test free agency agency after the season, it might not be a bad idea for the Ravens to add a receiver in the first round. Some names to keep in mind at 17: Mike Evans(TAMU), Kelvin Benjamin(FSU), and Odell Beckham Jr.(LSU). With Evans really being a toss up because of his major upside and the likelihood of him being gone in the top 10, the latter two are more probable at 17, barring any trades.
With only 10 days left to mock draft, and make calls, the question remains the same. What will Ozzie Newsome do with the 17th overall pick? Newsome has as good a track record as anybody when it comes to drafting players, drafting countless number of pro bowlers since the inception of the club in 1996. With that, its hard to believe that Ozzie won’t make the right decision when it comes to the Ravens turn to pick next Thursday.
Remember, no matter what, In Ozzie We Trust.