How will the Ravens Approach 2011 NFL Draft?

April 08, 2011 | Brian Billick

Nobody does a better job assembling personnel than Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens.  Their record, particularly in the early rounds, is nearly perfect even though they are typically choosing in the bottom half of the first round.  Players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Ben Grubbs and Todd Heap all were acquired in this familiar territory.  As is normal, they have the 26th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Outside of the fact that they are an aging team, they’re only a couple of areas that need to be addressed heading into the draft.  Haloti Ngata is the most dominant inside defensive linemen in the league and has already been franchised.  They also would like to keep unrestricted free agent defensive back Chris Carr and safety Dawan Landry.

Even with that, new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano would probably like to shore up his secondary and find an edge pass rusher to compliment Pro-Bowler Terrell Suggs.

Offensively, the Ravens biggest need is one that has typically been a bust in Ravens’ draft history.  Their top four outside receivers, Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth have all been acquired outside of the draft.

Those two rare first round busts were Travis Taylor, the tenth pick in 2000, and Mark Clayton, who was the 22nd pick in 2005. Third rounders Yamon Figurs and Devard Darling have not faired any better. The Ravens have been among the leagues worst at generating explosive plays and need to find some.

They might also consider drafting a center to eventually replace Matt Birk or should they lose fullback LeRon McClain to free agency, they may need to address that position in later rounds.

The Ravens get a scheduling break this season with their NFC Divisional foes coming out of the West, but do have to face the dangerous AFC South along with games versus the Jets and on the road against the Chargers.