BSL’s Ravens analysts, Dan Bryden, Matt Jergensen, and myself, Mike Randall, bring you another roundtable discussion about all things Ravens this offseason. We’re talking draft, Eugene Monroe’s leadership, former first round target turned scrap heap addition to a Ravens rival, and football films.
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1. According to a recent fan poll (updated 4/17), 24.35% would like to see the Ravens select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety out of Alabama with their first pick. 22.04% would take Taylor Lewan, tackle out of Michigan. These are the two front runners. Both would fill an immediate need on this team as a play making free safety and highly touted tackle filling the last hole on the O-line. Agree, disagree with the picks?
Dan Bryden: I would love to pick up Clinton-Dix at #17. Something tells me the safety-needy teams picking before the Ravens will snatch him up (Rams 2x, Lions, Bears, Giants, Cowboys). Clinton-Dix is rangy and he has the size and speed to be effective in the NFL. I like the angles he takes and his propensity toward hitting in the run and pass games. I understand why fans would want Lewan simply because he fills a need and his draft spot is slated to be around the where the Ravens pick. That said, I would be very much against Lewan at #17. Assuming the Ravens are married to the zone-blocking scheme, I’d rather see the Ravens pick a light-footed tackle whose best attribute is technique rather than size. Lewan is a scrappy player but it doesn’t translate to consistent tackle performance.
Matt Jergensen: Clinton-Dix is who I’d love to see the Ravens select in the First Round. Of course there are concerns if he’ll even be there for taking. If not Zack Martin would be a solid addition instead and could battle Ryan Wagner for the Right Tackle job. Lewan is a mauler and maybe if the Ravens weren’t so heavy on the Zone scheme I’d feel more comfortable with choosing him. Instead they’ll need a player that exhibits better technique and in that department I feel Martin has an edge.
Mike Randall: I’d be fine with either of those picks. I figure there are six or so major names that the Ravens have been linked to. Clinton-Dix, Lewan, Zack Martin (OT), Calvin Pryor (S), Mike Evans (WR) and Eric Ebron (TE). It’s anybody’s best guess as to who will be still on the board at #17. If it’s Clinton-Dix, Pryor, Martin or Lewan, then the Ravens get the benefit of drafting possibly the best player available and fill a position of need. If it’s Evans or Ebron, I’d guess that that means the value is too good to pass up and the other four are off the board. My only stance is that if the Ravens take a tackle, they must make sure he fits the zone blocking system as an athletic, lateral mover. I think Gary Kubiak, as the league’s resident expert at utilizing that system would know exactly which tackle would work for them. I’d trust the one they take is the one they want, even if it’s a tackle who falls into the later rounds.
2. A recent article from the Ravens focused on Eugene Monroe’s workouts this off season. Working out at the castle twice a day, five, sometimes six times a week. With the lucrative contract he received, expectations are higher. Ryan Jensen, Jah Reid, and Kelechi Osemele have taken notice and have signed up for Monroe’s program. What are your thoughts on the weakest until last year putting in the extra hours when they aren’t instructed to?
DB: Former offensive lineman will tell you that they would rather be a part of a cohesive line unit rather than a collection of above-average individuals. I plan to do a full-length piece on this, but communication and rapport is an underrated aspect of good line play. It allows for timing when combo-blocking, double-teams in pass protection, and fake protection calls to throw the other team off. If the Ravens O-lineman can build further relationships while enhancing their strength, I’m all for it.
MJ: The great offensive lines of the past were normally together for several seasons and had built a rapport and cohesion that served them well on the field. The salary cap has made that more difficult of course. Still you get the feeling that Monroe has emerged as the de-facto leader by example with these workouts and that this group will be determined to put the failures of 2013 behind them.
MR: If anything, it shows the anchor in Monroe taking on leadership type qualities. Kelechi Osemele must be healthy which is good to see. Not sure the roles Reid and Jensen will have on this team, but it shows that they are willing to go the extra mile when it comes to wanting to make the squad come September. Coaches acknowledge that extra effort and if they can’t find room for them on the 53-man, it’s that kind of good word that might get them a shot with another team.
3. Sam Montgomery, defensive end out of LSU, is a guy we previewed last season as a potential first round target of the Ravens. He ended up falling down to the third round where the Texans selected him. He was released in October on violations of team rules, signed to the Raiders practice squad in December and released three days later. The Bengals just signed Montgomery this past weekend. Do you see this as a low risk, possibly high reward kind of deal, like Rolando McClain, that the Ravens missed on?
DB: Sam Montgomery would certainly be a low risk deal, but I don’t see much of the upside. I think he would fit the 3-4 as an OLB but he is far from polished at the position. He has a limited repertoire of moves and he doesn’t have the speed/hips to bend the edge. Additionally, the Ravens have two solid OLBs in Suggs and Dumervil who, along with Upshaw, will likely man those positions throughout the year. If Montgomery had the ability to move to inside linebacker, I could see taking a small risk on him. But with a reputation for violating team rules and coming in out of shape, I’m happy to let the Bengals use up one of their roster spots.
MJ: The Ravens seem set at outside linebacker so I’m not sure if Montgomery would have a position here. I understood the McClain signing because of a need at the Inside which I still think the Ravens have.I could see other teams taking a flyer Montgomery but Baltimore doesn’t seem in the right position to have to give him a look.
MR: Time will tell on this one. Had to have been some reason why his draft stock plummeted in the first place. After a year, it appears we know why. He’ll be a 4-3 DE in Cincinnati if he makes the team, so I wonder if he would bale to fit into the Ravens 3-4. He doesn’t have the meat to play on the defensive line here, and the Ravens have a boat load of pass rushers. We’ll possibly get to face him twice this year if he turns his game around.
4. In honor of the film “Draft Day” opening last week, what is your favorite football movie and why? What is your least favorite and why?
DB: My favorite is “Any Given Sunday”. Not because it’s a good movie, but because it’s a fun movie. “Any Given Sunday” is an overly stylized depiction of what could happen behind the scenes of a destructive professional football club. Very silly at times, but it has the Favrian pain-killer addict, the endorsement-loving quarterback, Lawrence Taylor presumably reliving his former life, and obviously, the speech. Least favorite is “The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon”. Barely an actual movie. Its 78 minutes of Tony Danza and Disney awfulness. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s about a garbage man who kicks the garbage compactor lever closed on his garbage truck. Naturally, this leads to a pro football job as a kicker.
MJ: “The Longest Yard”. The 1974 original of course. I mean, how can goofy Adam Sandler compare to the ultimate macho man of the 70′s, Burt Reynolds? It’s a mix between comedy and political commentary but it’s mainly too silly to be taken seriously.
MR: I like “Rudy”. Haters, please don’t give me the whole “that scene with the players turning in their jerseys didn’t happen in real life!” speech. I know and I don’t care. It’s still a great story. It’s one of those that when I’m flipping channels and it comes on, I drop what I’m doing and I have to watch. “Rudy” has some of the best camera work at capturing the essence of football. If you don’t shed a tear when Rudy’s blue collar, no emotion showing ever father, becomes elated like a little kid watching his son get in the game and standing next to guys a foot and a half taller than him then he gets a tackle with the crowd chanting his name, and he gets carried off the field!…you need to have your head examined. Worst football movie, I’ll say “Leatherheads”. I think that movie could have been so much more. I like a lot of George Clooney’s work as an actor and a few things he’s directed. I loved “The Office” so I thought John Krasinski would be fun. But nothing at all about that movie resonated with me. I guess they wanted a date movie males wouldn’t have to suffer through and isn’t a ton of football jargon to bore the females. Maybe if they used Kate Upton as the love interest rather than Renee Zellweger…. You can do comedy and sports (“Major League”, “Caddyshack”). You can do romance and sports (“Jerry Maguire”). But you can’t do romance, comedy, and sports (“Fever Pitch”, “That god awful one where Owen Wilson pitches for the Nationals that no one remembers the name of”).