April 25th marks the day that the Super Bowl reigning champion Baltimore Ravens will hang their second Vince Lombardi Trophy into their trophy case for good and move past their 2012 campaign to focus on the 2013 season by way of the NFL Draft.
The Ravens send a key player away, released another and allowed several more to pursue their ‘greener’ pastures. According to Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore does not have any glaring holes.
However, let’s take look at the club’s updated needs heading into the 2013 NFL Draft (in no particular order).
The departure of safety Ed Reed was expected, but Bernard Pollard‘s release shocked Ravens’ Nation, and the wizardry of executive vice president/general manager Ozzie Newsome came into question – for a short period of time. Florida safety Matt Elam will fill the bill for the Ravens, who already have decent safeties in James Ihedigbo, Christian Thompson and added Michael Huff.
2. Offensive Line
Bryant McKinnie was a pleasant surprise during the Ravens’ postseason run last season, but he is a free agent, for now. Harbaugh believes that Kelechi Osemele can slide to the left tackle position. If Osemele can proof Harbaugh right, the Ravens can breathe easier. Nevertheless, from where the Ravens are selecting, which is late in each round, Blaize Foltz (TCU), Garrett Gilkey (Chadron State), Larry Warford (Kentucky) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) could be unexpected surprises.
3. Wide Receiver
When wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens’ receiving core took a major hit. Tight end Dennis Pitta is solid and Ed Dickson is coming around. Wide receiver Torrey Smith is good, but he is not consistently fundamentally sound as he prefers to catch the ball with his body instead of his hands. Return specialist Jacoby Jones is a wide receiver, but has not played the position full time and it’s unsure as to what David Reed and Tandon Doss will bring to the field.
Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech) would fit perfectly into the Ravens’ system because he is fundamentally sound, physical, enjoys blocking and has swag, like Boldin. Tavon Austin (West Virginia), Justin Hunter (Tennessee) and Robert Woods (USC) would be good additions, if they are around. Clearly, Terrance Williams (Baylor), Chris Harper (Kansas State) and Stedman Bailey (West Virginia) may be the Ravens’ best bets.
Note: Knowing that Ray Lewis rode off into the sunset towards a spot in an ESPN booth and Reed, defensive end Paul Kruger and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe signed with other clubs, the Ravens defensive front looked shaky. Apparently, after adding defensive tackle Marcus Spears, linebackers Rolando McClain and Elvis Dumervil and defensive end Chris Canty, the Ravens’ defense may be better.
With 12 selections for the Ravens in the 2013 NFL Draft, Newsome and the rest of this organization will focus on building depth, which will make Baltimore better and just as dangerous due to its proven track record of producing impactful players.
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