Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have proved to be patient about getting what they want when they want it (e.g. Fabian Washington, Dawan Landry, Joe Flacco) which has led to plenty of success in middle to late rounds of 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. To alleviate the pressures of Draft Day (and avoiding the bust), the Ravens seek to fill their needs in free agency. So, what will the Ravens seek to achieve after their first round selection?
Tackle is one position that is lacking depth, especially behind Tubby on the Right, Willie Anderson. He is 34 and entering his 14th season, not exactly young on the mileage chart, so the Ravens would do well to add a tackle.
The Ravens got away with having Dwan Edwards (DE) missing 2008 with a back injury. Trevor Pryce (DE) managed to stay healthy and held the d-line together. However his odometer is reading 34 and a lease expiration date in 2 years. A mild concern for the Ravens, but not high on the radar.
While there is no replacing future Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis, the Ravens will look for a linebacker as they have a knack for producing quality LBs from a good pipeline. 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.
With the newly added L.J. Smith (TE) from the Eagles, the age at TE is also approaching 30 with both Smith and Todd Heap at 29. Therefore, we should see the Ravens pick up at least one tight end somewhere in the middle rounds.
The Ravens and Ozzie have essentially perfected a draft formula that does not get swayed by hype and a methodology that finds personnel to fit their needs. Nothing suggests that their 2009 draft will be any different.
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Written by Lea Anderson