Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have proved to be an expert at getting what they want when they want it (e.g. Fabian Washington, Dawan Landry and Joe Flacco) in the draft. According to an article in the New York Times last week, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/sports/football/19ravens.html?_r=2&ref=sports, the Ravens are ranked No.#1 when it comes to best average quality on Draft Day.
The Ravens alleviate the pressures of the draft by filling the holes in the roster through free agency, which allows them to be patient and methodically seek out talent that fits their team. After the first round selection, what will the Ravens be on the hunt for?
The Ravens tackles have decent depth, but they could use some insurance behind Tubby on the Right, Willie Anderson (OT). At age 34 and entering his 14th season, he is entering the last phase of his career. There is little doubt a tackle will be taken.
The Ravens were lucky on the defensive line and got away with having Dwan Edwards (DE) miss 2008 with a back injury. Trevor Pryce (DE) managed to avoid the major injury bug and this paid dividends for the Ravens. But Pryce’s odometer is reading 34 and his lease expires in 2 years. Better to reload now then have a flat tire with no spare down the line.
While there is no replacing future Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis, the linebacker pipeline remains in place as Ozzie continues to find talent to throw into their 3-4 defensive attack. Jamal McClain (ILB) proved to be the gem of the undraafted rookie class last year with 16 tackles and 12 solo tackles, not to mention 2 safetys. This was a fortunate signing for the Ravens as last season’s third round pick, Tavares Gooden (Miami) suffered from a season-ending hip injury that closed the door on his rookie campaign. Ozzie will continue to stack this position and draft a linebacker.
With the newly added L.J. Smith from the Eagles, the age at TE is also approaching 30 with both Smith and Todd Heap at 29. In the middle to late rounds, we should see Ozzie re-up for a TE.
The Ravens have perfected a formula and methodology that reloads their squad while avoiding the dangerous believe-the-hype bust. No matter the round, position or need, the Ravens will reload successfully.
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Written by Lea Anderson