The Ravens – as usual – turned in a very workmanlike draft as usual. What I like in particular about this one, is that it was very much a “trench” draft. Football is a man’s game, typically won in the trenches. The Super Bowl is won every year by the team that has the best offensive line and the best defensive line in football…..in the playoffs when it counts! When it’s the playoffs, when you are one and done, you can throw stats out the window! Stats are this point are very much for losers. The Ravens defense – and defensive line – was nowhere near the top last year, except in the red zone, where it was the top in the league! Simply put, if you can protect your quarterback and open holes for your backs, you will win. If you can stop the run and pressure the opposing quarterback, you will win. The “x” factor of course is/are the special teams.
Round 1, Pick 32 (32) – Matt Elam, FS out of Florida was the pick. He is 5’10” 208. This is a great in the box type of a safety, who is a two time team captain, with great top end speed! He has great character, he flies to the ball, and plays like a Raven! The team was waiting for someone to make them an offer to trade out of the round, and when no one did, the turned in the card for the best player available, who also happened to be at a position of need. One has to wonder if Ozzie Newsome has developed such a great reputation within the league, that other GMs are leery of trading with him for fear of being fleeced.
Round 2, pick 24 (56) – Arthur Brown, ILB of out Kansas State. He is 6′ 241. All I can say is….WOW! What a pick! In my opinion, this has the chance to go down as one of the greatest picks in team history! I had Brown rated higher on my board than Elam. Although I had given both of them first round grades, I had Brown being picked in the high teens. I was shocked, surprised and amazed that he was still there as we headed to the bottom of the second round. Ozzie outmaneuvered the Texans and the Broncos, two teams that had picks ahead of the Ravens, and would no doubt had pounced on Brown. The defending Super Bowl champs came away with the unthinkable – they got what’s arguably the two second best players at their position, and to do so with the late picks that they had, was truly a remarkable feat. Only Kenny Vaccaro was rated higher than Elam, and time will prove which player is better. In Brown’s case, only Alec Ogletree was rated higher than him, but Ogletree had a recent DUI, so once again we’ll have to evaluate who is better over space and time. Brown is also a two time team captain, and physically speaking he is very similar to Ray Lewis when he came out of Miami. It is a fair comparison at this time of their careers. Brown is a three down linebacker who can cover tight ends down field.
Round 3, pick 32 (94) – Brandon Williams, DT out of Missouri Southern State. 6’1″ 335. Much will be made of Williams’ ability to walk on his hands (he’s all over YouTube already). He is a freakish athlete for his immense dimensions, but his performance at the Senior Bowl put him on the map. He was able to push and shove his way through some offensive linemen that went in the first round of this year’s draft. To call him a “fireplug” would be an understatement. I had him mocked to the Ravens early on, and I was glad to see that they picked him. He plays with a nasty disposition, and will make the Ravens that much more stout up the middle, where Ozzie Newsome said that the team needed to get stronger. You can bet he is going to be in that rotation, along with Haloti Ngata and company.
Round 4, Pick 32, (129) – John Simon, DE of Ohio State. 6’1″ 257. I’d say that a fair comparison would be Jarrett Johnson. Simon is a workout warrior who is stout, and has the ability to set the edge. His positional coach in college was Mike Vrabel, who knows a thing or two about setting the edge, as well as getting after the quarterback. Simon is a competitor with a very high motor. He gives the team depth at end and outside linebacker, and will occasionally spell Terrell Suggs.
Round 4, Pick 33 (130) – Kyle Juszczyk, FB out of Harvard. 6’1″ 248. This was a “smart” pick by the Ravens – pun intended. I had Kyle (last name pronounced “Yooz-check”) mocked to the Ravens for several weeks now. The pick made sense, and although I had him being drafted a round later, it made sense to take him here because he was on other team’s draft boards, and was rising very fast. He has great hands with which he caught a lot of passes at Harvard, and will have to be accounted for by the defense every time he slides out of the backfield. He is also a very willing blocker. In fact, I would – respectfully – call him a crash dummy, which is something you want out of your fullback. When you watch him on tape, he has no regard for his body as he launches himself into defenders! He was also quoted today of saying something along the lines that he “doesn’t hesitate to punch somebody in the mouth.” You just have to love that mentality!
Round 5, Pick 35 (168) – Ricky Wagner, OT out of Wisconsin. 6’6″ 308. Linemen out of Wisconsin have done real well in the NFL in the past few years. Wagner projects more as a right tackle, but can play left tackle as well. In fact, in 2011 he protected Russell Wilson’s blind side. He is a better run blocker than pass blocker at this stage.
Round 6, Pick 32 (200) – Kapron Lewis – Moore, DE out of Notre Dame. 6’4″ 298. Lewis – Moore tore up his ACL in the National Championship game against Alabama, so he is rehabing that knee at this time. He’s a very solid player, who would have been picked higher had it not been for the injury. With the plethora of picks that the Ravens had, this was a good pick up for the future, as the team can wait for him to get healthy.
Round 6, Pick 35 (203) – Ryan Jensen, OT out of ColoradoState-Pueblo. 6’3″ 317. Jensen was a 4 year starter at left tackle in college, but will compete at the center position with the Ravens, as confirmed by coach Harbaugh. He is a pretty tenacious guy, who will try to unseat Gino Gradkowski, and will be his back up if he is unsuccessful.
Round 7, Pick 32 (238) – Aaron Mellette, WR out of Elon. 6’2″ 217. This is a very big, productive receiver that I’ve been mocking to the Ravens for several weeks now. I’ve watched a bunch of tape on him and my impression is that he has a legitimate chance to make the roster. He runs a 4.5 40, and has decent sized hands at 9″ 5/8. He is also just shy of being 6’3″, missing by just 1/8 of an inch. He makes catches with his hands versus his body, and makes the tough catch across the middle.
Round 7, Pick 41 (247) – Marc Anthony, CB out of California. 5’11” 196. Anthony is 5th year senior that has decent size and decent speed. He needs to make his mark on special teams if he is to have a chance to make this team.