It was interesting to see the players that the Ravens parted company with in the off-season. Although the bulk were jettisoned for salary cap and age reasons, a couple were let go because quite simply, they weren’t good team members. It is now clear by just looking at the Ravens’ draft picks, the type of player that they targeted. Below is a list compiled by Will Spencer of Draft Breakdown that in retrospect makes a whole lot of sense. Will has been preaching about these non-negotiable traits for many months now, and those traits came to fruition over the weekend:
2. Team captain
5. Senior Bowl invite
These are the traits the team valued, and the traits that the team went after. If the Ravens draft was just based on those qualities alone, then it was in fact a home run, an “A” type of draft, if you will. Speaking of will, Will also said that the Ravens would look to take players with “top end” speed, and that trait was evident in both of their first two picks in Matt Elam and Arthur Brown. Both of those guys can flat out fly. Brown’s speed is particularly impressive, given the fact that he is an inside linebacker. He will play all 3 downs, and he will not come off of the field. He is fast enough to cover and stick to tight ends all over the field. The Ravens defense will be younger and faster, and it will tackle better. You can bet on it.
Locker room chemistry is important, particularly in football, which is the ultimate team game. Last year the Ravens caught lightning in the bottle. They were going nowhere, until a series of events – beginning with the loss to the Redskins – led to their improbable playoff run, and Super Bowl victory.
The Ravens’ brass knew that there was no way that they could repeat last year’s run, with the same cast of players. They needed to form a squad that would polarize squarely behind coach Harbaugh. The negativity and the antagonism that plagued the team under former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was gone, replaced by the calm demeanor and steady influence of new coordinator Jim Caldwell. One band, one sound.
And the draft brought in a haul of two time team captains, workout warriors, productive field tested players. Guys that one would be proud to be associated with. Role models who’s jerseys would represent all that is good and great about being a Raven. Guys who faced adversity at different levels, yet persevered to the point of hearing their name called on draft day.
And now the outcome of all of this, is that the Ravens have a chance. A chance to not only get back into the playoffs, but dare I say win the Lombardi Trophy again. I purposefully didn’t say “repeat”, because that word wouldn’t be applicable here. To repeat would take away from the 2012 squad, the one with Lewis and Reed and Boldin, and others who are no longer with the team. That was a special team, a team that overcame adversity and odds and clawed and scratched its way to a championship.
This 2013 version promises to be dramatically different. It’s going to be youthful and fresh. It’s top four draft picks – and maybe beyond that – answered the press’ questions with “Yes sir” and “No sir” responses. At my age, I found that quite refreshing! This team will not be under the immense shadows that both of their future certain ballot Hall of Famers in Lewis and Reed had cast upon it. This team will not challenge coach Harbaugh’s authority, nor will any of its players lash out publicly at commissioner Goodell. This team will be led by Flacco, Suggs, Rice and Webb. This team has the opportunity to write its own history this year. One band, one sound.