Nickel Coverage: Ravens 2014 Pre-Draft
I have to admit that I’m incredibly excited that draft day is finally almost here. Not just because the Ravens should be able to add some quality players in their quest for a playoff berth but also that I’m ready to talk about something else besides 40 times and “character concerns” that come with each potential prospect. It’s been a long road fans, a bit longer than usual with the draft set to commence in May.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
But no worries though I’m ready to give some more food for thought in regards to this extended weekend’s selection festivities in this edition of Nickel Coverage.
- Who will the Ravens select in the First Round with the 17th pick in the Draft? Some of the Ravens draft success in the First Round over the years has hinged on Pro Bowl players falling to them such as Ed Reed (2002) and Haloti Ngata (2006). So will any of the big names that have been mentioned in this draft be able to land in their laps? It doesn’t seem likely. Michigan’s beastly Tackle Taylor Lewan and free roaming Saftey Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should be plucked within the first fifteen and probably won’t be available as each would fill major needs for Baltimore. The most popular pick, mine included, is Notre Dame lineman Zack Martin who could fill a need at Right Tackle for the Ravens. He’s also on many other teams lists and even Assistant GM Eric DeCosta doesn’t seem so sure Martin will be available when the Ravens pick. So might the Ravens trade back? It’s always a possibility as they’ve never been shy about moving up or down in previous seasons and with a supposed “deep” class due to a huge influx of underclassmen they could fill more needs with multiple picks. Ozzie has said that he’s fielded calls from several organizations about the 17th pick, so this option does have some merit.
- Ozzie and the Ravens need a strong draft. This year they will have their highest pick since they selected Joe Flacco in 2008 so that should help. But they haven’t selected a Pro Bowler since Ray Rice five drafts ago. That might seem like nitpicking since Baltimore has had a tremendous run of success finding high caliber players. In their first 13 drafts they’ve chosen 19 Pro Bowlers which is tied with the Patriots for the most during that period. I don’t think anyone is going to say that the front office has lost a step just yet as the Ravens will continue to be praised most of this weekend but they need to get more production on the field from their rookie crop.
- Expect a Running Back in the Mid-Rounds. I don’t think this is a huge surprise given the uncertain status of Ray Rice due to possible league discipline as well as his steep decline in play in 2013. Third-year man Bernard Pierce who Baltimore snagged in the third round in the 2012 draft is recovering from surgery and also struggled last season. The Ravens should be able to get a quality runner such as Charles Sims, Ka’Deem Carey, or local favorite Terrance West to bolster the attack to set the tone for Gary Kubiak’s offense.
- When will the Ravens choose a Receiver? The possibility of Baltimore picking one in the early rounds seems less likely the more you listen to the latest draft buzz. However, the Eric Ebron rumors are still alive as a possible round one selection. This is considered a deep class so could Baltimore wait until Round Two where Jordan Matthews or Kelvin Benjamin might be had. Or maybe round three where 6’6″ Rutgers prospect Brandon Coleman might be waiting. Even though the team appears set for this season it would make sense for them to bring another player in to help the offense.
- Don’t sleep on the corners. With receivers to be had almost every round perhaps Baltimore might jump at a corner to play the slot. It’s been discussed here at BSL how much of an underrated priority corner has been this off-season, at least publicly. Jaylen Watkins (Florida) or Keith McGill (Utah) might be able to fill the Ravens needs in the early rounds.