Last night’s NFL Draft on prime time gave us plenty to get excited about, especially once the reality set in that the Ravens would have to make a tough decision and decide amongst multiple players that most people never thought would last to the 25th pick in the 1st round. After the Green Bay Packers selected OT Bryan Bulaga at #23, the options for the Baltimore Ravens were numerous with names like DezBryant, Dan Williams, Kyle Wilson, Sergio Kindle, Devin McCourty, and Jared Odrick still yet to be called by Rodger Goodell with only one team left to draft in-front of them. It looked like the Baltimore Ravens were about to hit the lottery without even making a move up the draft board and in fact they were going to have to face a difficult decision as which player to select, something that most expected to made easier for the Ravens since they’d be going in typical Ozzie Newsome style and take the best player available.
It was a moment of “highs” and”lows” for many Ravens fans as the New England Patriots traded the 24th pick to the Dallas Cowboys, who moved up from #27 to snatch WR Dez Bryant out of the Ravens talons. Even with Bryant (the fan favorite) off the board the Ravens were in line to grab an impact player at a position they desired. However even withtop NFL prospects such as Williams, Wilson, Kindle, McCourty, and Odrick there for the Ravens, Ozzie made the extremely bold decision to trade back into the draft and add extra picks.
The rumor has it that the Denver Broncos had targeted Tim Tebow at #25 throughout the days leading up to the draft and there was no doubt that Denver was going to get “their guy” Tebow at that spot. As the the Ravens spot at #25 kept getting closer and closer to being on the clock, the Broncos kept calling back offering more and more to swap picks with the Ravens, especially since the Broncos had gained many extra picks as they were the night’s most active team. So when the Ravens were on the clock the Broncos came with their best offer (#43, #70, and #114) of the night for the Ravens 25th pick and Ozzie made the deal, perhaps easier with Dez Bryant not available anymore.
The Ravens had moved out of the 1st round and then watched the rest of the night from the sidelines which began with the Broncos drafting Tebow at #25, the Cardinals taking Dan Williams at #26, the Pats taking Devin McCourty at #27, the Dolphins taking Jared Odrick, and the Jets taking Kyle Wilson at #29 and just like that nearly every target we’ve talked about for the Ravens was gone!
The Ravens never made a selection last night and moved all the way back to 43rd pick in the draft (11th in 2ndround) before they’ll draft their first player in the 2010 draft. So was it a good move for the Ravens? I guess it’s more like a “wait and see” verdict until tonight concludes and we see who they were able to add with the additional picks. But what a “ballsy” move it was for Ozzie Newsome who could have further etched his legacy as drafting another potential superstar at the end of the 1st round (R. Lewis, E. Reed, T. Heap, etc..), but instead tried to put the franchise in-front of his personal accolades.
The good news for the Ravens and the reason why Ozzie moved back was because this team has multiple needs, this is a deep draft, and they’re going to need to add another 5-7 additional players to their roster (through the draft and/or over the summer signings) if they really want to be a Super Bowl contending team in 2010.
Tonight the Ravens will have 4 total picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, that is unless they make additional deals which is always a possibility. As is stands now the Ravens have the #43, #57, #70, and #114 picks and they should be able to still find four very talented players.
If I were in the “war room” at the Ravens facilities in Owings Mills these are the players that I would be considering tonight with those draft picks:
- Golden Tate, Notre Dame- He doesn’t have ideal size for a NFL WR, but he’s amazingly quick and would be a great slot WR in Baltimore and a special teams kick returner.
- Arrelious Benn, Illinios- Benn is built like new Raven Anquan Boldin and would be a nice addition to a rebuilt Ravens WR corp.
- Carlton Mitchell, South Florida- Mitchell has ideal size (6’2″, 215 lbs.) to play WR in the NFL and could be a top 20 WR in a couple of seasons.
- Brandon Lafell, LSU- I like SEC WR’s and Lafell is a big one.
- Eric Decker, Minnesota- Would be a great pick up in the 3rd round. He’s coming off of an injury during his senior season and he’d have plenty of time to fully recover in Baltimore without the immediate pressure.
- Taylor Price, Ohio- He’s a 6′ burner with blazing speed. He’d become Joe Flacco’s home run threat for years to come and worth a 3rd round pick.
- Aaron Hernandez, Florida- He’s Dallas Clark. He’s not the biggest, but he’s a matchup nightmare and a huge play-making threat.
- Ed Dickson, Oregon- Extremely talented TE that suffered in college by having an awful QB.
- Rob Gronkowski, Arizona- They called him “Baby Heap” in college, the nickname could stick in Baltimore.
- Jimmy Graham, Miami- He’s a raw player to be selected in the 3rd round, but his upside is scary with his size and frame.
- Anthony McCoy, USC- Limited college production, but McCoy could be a real steal in the 3rd round if he works at it.
- Dennis Pitta, BYU- He’s already 25 years old, but he’s far more ready to play immediately in the NFL than most in this class.
- Terrance Cody, Alabama- He’s a man eater…literally. He’s a a legit NT in the 3-4 and would make Ray Lewis look like a 31 year old linebacker, not his true age of 35.
- Brian Price, UCLA- Price is extremely agile for being 6’1″, 301 lbs, but he’s better suited at DT in a 4-3, he’d probably be a 3-4 DE.
- Carlos Dunlap, Florida- The potential is there for him to be dominant, but does he have it all upstairs? He’d be worth gambling on in the 2nd round.
- Everson Griffen, USC- He’ll need to get stronger, in the same way the Paul Krueger needed to this year, but he could be a nice fit in the Ravens 3-4.
- Corey Wooton, Northwestern- Wooton was injured during his junior year, but by the end of his senior season Wooton’s dominance returned.
- Alex Carrington, Arkansas State- He’d be an ideal DE in the Ravens 3-4 andan absolute steal in the 3rd round.
- Greg Hardy, Ole Miss- At one time Hardy was a top 20 pick in the draft, but injuries has slowed him and lowered his draft stock. Could be worth a gamble in the 3rd round.
- Sergio Kindle, Texas- He’s clearly the best of what’s left in the 2nd round, but he will not be available when the Ravens pick at #43.
- Navorro Bowman, Penn State- Another big talent at LB from PSU, Bowman would be a nice fit in the Ravens 3-4.
- Eric Norwood, South Carolina- Remember this kid’s name because he will become a starter in the NFL.
- Daryl Washington, TCU- He’s an undersized ILB that projects better as a OLB in the NFL, regardless he’s a tackling machine.
- Brandon Spikes, Florida- Spikes was once a lock to go in the 1st round, but Spikes isn’t a player that was helped by his Combine results. He’s a football player and was a man amongst boys in college and should be a good “value” pick in the 2ndround.
- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, IUPUI- I think this kid is going to be a beast in the NFL in due time. Physically there is no one else like him in the draft and is a dynamite return man.
- Donovan Warren, Michigan- Had an incredible sophomore season, but didn’t make the interceptions in his junior season he did the prior year. I think Warren is getting over looked by quite a few.
- Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest- Ghee has a lot to learn before he’ll be ready to play (well), but he’s as athletically gifted as they come.
- Dominique Franks, Oklahoma- Still raw as a junior Franks has a high ceiling in the NFL.
- Jerome Murphy, South Florida- He can tackle, defend, and intercept the ball, but his man-to-man skills are a little light currently.
- Taylor Mays, USC- Mays is a physical freak, but he’s not nearly as good at his position as he could be. He’s the size of a linebacker playing safety and we haven’t seen a guy like that since Sean Taylor. Taylor was a much better ball hawk than Mays is, but paired with Ed Reed, Taylor Mays would be able to head hunt the opposition which is his specialty.
If the Ravens were able to walk away tonight with say Terrance Cody, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Jimmy Graham, and Eric Norwood or Aaron Hernandez, Donovan Warren, Alex Carrington, and Eric Decker they would be ecstatic and so would I. The bottom line is, while the Ravens could have drafted a potential Pro Bowl player at #25, they decided to add multiple players that can help them fill their various needs. Was it the right move by Ozzie and the Ravens? I guess we’ll know more around midnight tonight.