Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome in successive drafts has selected a defensive tackle, an inside linebacker, and a safety. That’s 6 high draft picks spent on the defensive side of the ball; although that’s bad news for the Ravens’ offensive coaches, it’s great news for the Ravens as a whole, and bad news for the rest of the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks proved once again in the latest Super Bowl that defense still wins championships. As I look at the Ravens’ current roster, I see a lot of early round picks on the defensive side of the ball. Let’s take a look:
1st Round Draft picks – Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Jimmy Smith, C.J. Mosley, Matt Elam
2nd Round Draft picks – Timmy Jernigan, Arthur Brown, Courtney Upshaw, Terrence Cody, Daryl Smith
3rd Round Draft picks – Lardarius Webb, Terrence Brooks
Throw in a couple of 4th rounders like Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty, and it’s easy to see the makings of a very good defense, one that should be improved over last year’s 12th rated unit.
Of course, a lot of things have to go right. Ngata, Suggs, Dumervil and D. Smith have to stay healthy. There’s a shot that Cody and Canty do not make the team. Matt Elam has to grow in to the strong safety position. The early returns on C.J. Mosley are very good. He very much has the look of a man among boys at Ravens mini-camp. Arthur Brown has to prove that he can stay healthy, and hopefully he’s added some muscle to his thin frame during the off-season. Courtney Upshaw has been solid but unspectacular.
Timmy Jernigan will press for playing time on the defensive live, but he will face plenty of stern competition from the likes of DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Brent Urban. Terrence Brooks and Matt Elam will hold down the safety positions, and should be a formidable duo for years to come.
The back end is solid with Webb and Smih, and Chykie Brown has experience as a nickel back. Bottom line is that this defense has the chance to move up in all of the statistical categories, but – more importantly – also has the chance to start intimidating its opponents as it did it years past. They don’t have to be a consistent top 5 defense – as it did under the Lewis and Reed era – but they don’t need to be either. With a healthy offensive line and healthy running backs, the offense will score points. And unlike last year, this team will be able to get off of the field on third down – something that was missing, to give the offense more opportunities.