18. Baltimore Ravens (from Houston)
The pick: Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware | Video
What he brings: Baltimore fills its greatest need here. Flacco certainly has the makings of a franchise quarterback. He’s tall enough to scan the field from the pocket, flashes good pocket presence and has the strongest arm of any quarterback in this year’s class. However, he isn’t nearly as polished as Matt Ryan and he played against a lower level of competition at Delaware. Keeping that in mind, he’s going to have a steeper learning curve, so it’s going to take time for him to realize his potential.
How he fits: He is a prototypical pocket passer who should fit in well with Cam Cameron’s passing offense. He easily has the ability to attack all levels in the passing game. He is their franchise quarterback of the future, even though he may not start right away. We are not sold on Kyle Boller or Troy Smith, however, and Flacco will compete right away. This team has some good pieces in place on the offensive side of the ball, including RB Willis McGahee, TE Todd Heap and WRs Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. However, the Ravens’ defense is ready to win now and the offense is still not there based on the quarterback questions.
55. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
What he brings: Rice is undersized and runs like a power back, so teams are concerned about his ability to take a pounding at the professional level. Also, he needs to improve his route-running ability before making a substantial contribution on passing downs. On the plus side, he reads his blocks well and has excellent lower-body strength, so he’s far more effective between the tackles than his size suggest. He also has the hands to develop into a reliable receiver, and he’s a surprisingly effective pass-blocker.
How he fits: He brings another dimension to the Ravens’ offense with Willis McGahee. They have a good, young offensive line and Rice adds another option on the offense as a playmaker. He will be a change-of-pace back who can take pressure off the quarterback. This was a good pick by Baltimore.
71. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Tavares Gooden, ILB, Miami (Fla.)
What he brings: Gooden isn’t as physical against the run as you would like. He doesn’t show great instincts in coverage, either. However, he clearly has the athletic ability and speed to develop excellent man-to-man cover skills. He also is versatile enough to line up on the inside or the outside and is a sideline-to-sideline run defender.
How he fits: The Ravens finally addressed the defense. Even though Ray Lewis is very productive, he is getting older. Gooden is a versatile player who can fit in Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes. He will be developed slowly behind two great players and contribute on special teams right away.
86. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Tom Zbikowski, S, Notre Dame
What he brings: Zbikowski is overaggressive at times and lacks the hip fluidity to recover when he gets caught too close to the line of scrimmage. However, he has great toughness and is a sound open-field tackler who fills hard in run support. He also is a fearless punt returner.
How he fits: He will immediately help on special teams and instant depth at safety. He is smart player who will play close to the line while he develops in his nickel package. A golden gloves champion boxer, Zbikowski is a tough player.
99. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Oniel Cousins, G, UTEP
What he brings: Cousins moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle in 2005. In addition he’s going to have to move inside to guard as he simply doesn’t have the balance to hold up in pass protection on the edge. On the other hand, he has the range, toughness and size to develop into a starting guard.
How he fits: He will switch to guard at the NFL level. He is a good value pick at the end of Round 3 as he has position versatility. This will provide good depth on Ravens’ offensive line, something they needed.
106. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Marcus Smith, WR, New Mexico
Smith has good size and enough speed to stretch the field, but he isn’t a great route-runner and drops some passes. Still, he will provide depth in the receiving corps, as the Ravens are trying to find playmakers and Derrick Mason is getting older.
133. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: David Hale, OT, Weber State
Hale has adequate feet and uses his hands well. He also sustains his blocks and plays with a mean streak. He will play too high at times and hasn’t shown good lower-body strength.
He doesn’t have the burst to consistently separate from man coverage and he drops some passes that should be routine catches. However, he has the wide frame to shield defenders from the ball. He also has excellent leaping ability, making him a candidate to develop into a productive red zone target.
Runs hard between the tackles and can pick up yardage after contact. The concern with him is how his slight frame will hold up given his physical running style and the big hits NFL running backs take.