Usually we take a look at the players, and point out their positives and negatives but this time we're going to look at a franchise and why not start with the home town team, Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens are one of the youngest franchises in the league, heading into their 18th season as an NFL franchise. In that span though the Ravens have been to the playoffs 9 times and have 2 Super Bowl in their trophy case. Ravens are known for building through the draft with 1 or 2 moves in the free agency. For the first 4 years, the Ravens selected defensive players in the 1st round, which help create the historic 2000 Ravens Defense
In 1996, the Ravens first two picks, Johnathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, are easily the two best players in franchise history. How many franchises can say that they drafted 1st ballot Hall of Famers in their franchise's inaugural draft? Ozzie has been the mastermind behind the Raven's on field success, which has made him the best GM in the NFL.
I must admit that I wasn't impressed with Ozzie's off-seasons moves last year, just because he didn't keep it 100 about the direction of the franchise. Ozzie said that the Ravens weren't going through a "rebuilding stage" but letting go 9 starters sure seem like it to me, fan fovorite Ed Reed being one of them.
Even though Ozzie has been known for his great off-season moves, he has made some misses in the draft, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Here is a list of the offensive players the Ravens picked in the 1st round after 1996.
As you can see the Ravens have been 50% in the 1st round of the draft with offensive players. You would think with Ozzie being a hall of fame tight end, would hanve an eye for offensive talent, but that has been Ozzie's only true downfall as a GM. Offensively, the Ravens have been middle of the road or less since the beginning of the franchise. The only time the offense was great was when they made a trip to the Super Bowl in 2012, averaging 31 points in the postseason.
Since 2008 though, Ozzie has been on point drafting offensive players, Flacco, Oher, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, and Benard Pierce all were drafted after 2008 or later, and all made contributions to that Super Bowl run.
This year the Ravens' have a few holes to fill, but most importantly on the offensive line. Last season was ruined by a depleted offensive line that lacked athleticism and leadership. In the first round the Ravens should aim for a Right Tackle, with Michael Oher now playing in Tennessee. There are a few options the Ravens have, Bradon Thomas out of Clemson, Zach Martin out of Notre Dame, and Tyler Lewan out of Michigan. Whether or not the Ravens trade up, which they have done in the past, is the ultimate question. Trading up could give them an opportunity to go after the elite Tackles of this draft, Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M, and Gregg Robinson out of Auburn.
The Ravens will have 8 picks in this draft which is more than enough for Ozzie to make some good moves. After a Offensive Tackle, the Ravens should move their focus to Safety. Releasing Ed Reed, left the Ravens vulnerable in the secondary, with no true Free Safety to protect the corners. Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo were the safeties but neither were great in coverage. Elam was supposed to be Ed's successor but he is better at the Strong Safety spot. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama and Calvin Pryor out of Louisville seemed to be the best options for the Ravens but that will depend on whether or not they will be available if the Ravens decide to take a OT in the 1st round.
If that is the case Ravens, should look at these dudes in the later rounds:
- Jimmy Ward, Nothern Illinois - True Free Safety, always finds himself around the ball. Great tackler. Only 9 reps of 225, needs to get bigger.
- Terrance Brooks, Florida State - Athletic Saftey with history at Cornerback. Very Athletic, starter on National Championship defense. Only 10 reps of 225, inconsistent tackler.
- Brock Vereen, Minnesota - One of the best performers at the Combine. Younger brother of Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots. Short arms and small hands, only 4 career INTs at Minnesota.
This will be an interesting draft for the Ravens because, to me, this is apart of the "phantom" rebuilding Ozzie is doing. None the less, I expect some surprises from the Wizard.