Grading the Ravens’ draft

Ozzie Newsome proved once again why he is one of (if not the) best General Managers in the business, particularly on draft day. He managed to pick up arguably 2 top 20 players, as well as a potential starting free safety. He also fortified his defensive line, tight end, running back, and even added a nifty little receiver who – if he develops – could be Welkeresque!

Newsome also drafted a quarterback, and then a guard that is now probably the smartest football player in the NFL. Let’s take a closer look at the draft picks:
First Round – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama. He was rated by the Ravens’ scouting staff as a top 10 pick, so they were elated when he was still available with their 17th pick of the first round. A 3 down linebacker and a team captain. He is also smart, as he was accepted by Duke and Stanford. Smart, instinctive and tough are some adjectives used to describe Mosley. With him in the middle, the Ravens never have to worry about subbing him out due to the offenses’ bringing in special packages, and gives them one less player to worry about pulling based on down and distance. He had a history of nagging injuries throughout his college career, but it is important to note that he played through them. He stated that he is honored to wear number “57”, because it was O.J. Brigance’s number. Yes, the Ravens could have taken a safety here, but clearly Mosley was the best player available, and the Ravens stayed true to their board. Grade: A

Second Round – Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU. Sure there are questions in regards to his conditioning and endurance, scheme fit and the diluted sample at the combine, but Jernigan reminds me of Warren Sapp. He has heavy, violent hands and very much a leader of that great FSU defense that just won the National Championship. He not only battled Auburn’s stout offensive line, but the flu as well. Plus factor in Auburn’s fast break up tempo offense, and those are the reasons as to why Jernigan struggled at times during that game. As far as schemes are concerned, they are highly overrated as all teams now run some type of a hybrid defense. Most morph from 3-4 to 4-3. Jernigan is a 3-technique tackle, but he likes to line up over the center as well. He will wear number “97”, and will be in a rotation with the likes of Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams, and Chris Canty. Grade: A

Third Round – Terrence Brooks, FS, FSU. In Brooks, the Ravens picked another player from FSU’s vaunted championship defense. The Ravens struck gold as Brooks was the best player available at a position of need! That is indeed a rare occurrence, and now the Ravens have in the fold that center fielder that can get them off of the field on third down. He is a former CB that can effectively press on the line of scrimmage, or patrol center field. Very fast, very physical, and very instinctive. The starting FS job is his to lose, and I don’t see that happening. He will wear number “33”. Grade: A

Third Round – Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State. Picture an offensive tackle with soft hands that can catch, and that pretty much summarizes Gillmore. At 6’6″ and 260, he is a physical road grader, capable of collapsing a defensive end or a linebacker. He is the type of tight end that offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves to utilize in his two tight end sets. Expect to see him in short yardage situations and near the goal line. He will wear number “80”. Grade: C+

Fourth Round – Brent Urban, DT, Virginia. A 6’7″ 300 pound 3-4 defensive end! He is coming off of an injury, and he is a raw talent. He is also a 5-technique defensive end, where he will vie for playing time with another 5-tech DE in Kapron Lewis-Moore. He will wear number “96”. Grade: C

Fourth Round – Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina. At 6′ 230 pounds, Taliaferro is a load to bring down. He is a one cut back, which is the perfect running style for Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme that historically his offensive lines have employed. Taliaferro runs with good body lean and is tough to bring down, plus he is a very determined and effective pass block. He also displays solid hands out of the backfield. He will wear number “34”. Grade: C

Fifth Round – John Urschel, OG, Penn State. Solid, cerebral technician that can also play center in a pinch. Very smart player who wants to get his Ph.D. Hard worker with good locker room presence. He will wear number “64”. Grade: B-

Sixty Round – Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State. West Coast type of quarterback with average arm strength. Smart, tough, and has poise in the pocket. Does a good job with timing routes. Has an outside shot of making the team. Most likely scenario is that he starts the season on the practice squad. He will wear number “10.” Grade: C

Seventh Round – Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest. At just 5’9″ and 190 pounds, he is shifty and finds holes in zone defenses. May have a difficult time when matched up man to man, as he may not be able to create separation at the NFL level. Cerebral player who has a chance to be Joe Flacco’s third down safety blanket. Great hands. He will wear number “6”. Grade: B+

Bonus – here are a couple of undrafted free agents that the Ravens have signed that could make the team:

1. James Hurst, OT, North Carolina. 4 year starter at right tackle, but broken fibula dropped him out of the draft. Would have been about a 4th or 5th round draft pick. At 6’5″ 300 pounds, he has the size, technique and temperament to make the team.

2. Dexter Moody, FS, Albany State. Was recruited and offered a scholarship with the University of Georgia. He had some off-field trouble and the scholarship was pulled. He’s stayed out of trouble while at Albany State, and at 6’1 217 ran 4.4 – 4.5 40. He’s a great athlete, and a real dark horse to make the the team. Keep your eye on him!

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