May 2, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Review & Season Outlook: Baltimore Ravens

#5, Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens

*Click on a team's logo to go to their draft recap and season outlook page. A few will be posted each day in alphabetical order.

Baltimore Ravens
Division: AFC North | Last Season Record: 10-6

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: An interesting offseason for the Ravens. They lost several key pieces on defense, but did a really good job replacing them in free agency.

Michael Oher is projected to move back over to left tackle, but he's not as good on the left side as he is on the right. Ideally, landing someone like Terron Armstead in round 2 would make sense, and offensive line depth in general is needed.

Losing Anquan Boldin is a big blow. Luckily, this wide receiver class is deep, but they would ideally target a receiver no later than the third round.

The Ravens lost two safeties (Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard) and signed one (Michael Huff). They also lost two inside backers, one of them being the great Ray Lewis. They only signed one (Ronaldo McClain). Adding another linebacker and another safety should be high on their priority list.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Round 1

22. Matt Elam*, SS
Experience: Junior | School: Florida
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 208 lbs.

Analysis: I had a feeling Ozzie Newsome would go with Elam. Cyprien is the better safety prospect, and they also could have had Te'o or Arthur Brown. It's definitely not a bad pick however, as he is a good fit, and they fill their need for a play making safety.

Grade: B-

Round 2

56. Arthur Brown, ILB
Experience: Senior | School: Kansas State
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 236 lbs.

Analysis: Arguably the steal of the draft, Arthur Brown is one of the top 20 players in this class, and is certainly the best non-pass rushing linebacker in the draft. He's another good fit, and fills a major need at inside linebacker.

Grade: A+

Round 3

94. Brandon Williams, NT
Experience: Senior | School: Missouri Southern State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 332 lbs.

Analysis: Brandon Williams is great value late in the third round. He also gives them a legitimate upgrade at nose tackle. Anytime you can get a starter in the third round that's excellent.

Grade: A

Round 4

129. John Simon, DE/OLB
Experience: Senior | School: Ohio State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 257 lbs.

Analysis: John Simon is a football player. He may not have a true position in the NFL, but his motor and ability to rush the passer are what should allow him to be a solid player for a long time. The Ravens needed to add another pass rusher.

Grade: B-

130. Kyle Juszczyk, FB
Experience: Senior | School: Harvard
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 248 lbs.

Analysis: Too early for a fullback. Vonta Leach is already penciled in as the starter, so it'll be interesting to see how Juszczyk will be used early on. It's not a major reach so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Grade: C-

Round 5

168. Ricky Wagner, OT
Experience: Senior | School: Wisconsin
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 309 lbs.

Analysis: This is about the right range for Wagner, but I could have seen him going earlier. He could give them an upgrade at right tackle if they want Oher on the left side. Worst case, Wagner provides immediate depth.

Grade: B+

Round 6

200. Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE
Experience: Senior | School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 298 lbs.

Analysis: Love this pick by Baltimore. Kapron Lewis-Moore would have been at least a fourth or fifth round pick before the injury. The Ravens have strong depth at defensive end, but they can redshirt Lewis-Moore and play him when he is healthy.

Grade: A-

203. Ryan Jensen, OG
Experience: Senior | School: Colorado State-Pueblo
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 317 lbs.

Analysis: I didn't study Ryan Jensen, but I don't know much about him. Some guys in the draft community loved this pick, so there must be some upside here. He'll provide depth.

Grade: C+

Round 7

238. Aaron Mellette, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Elon
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 217 lbs.

Analysis: Great value pick. Before the year, many thought that Mellette would be an early day 2 pick, perhaps even a first round pick. I had him as a 4th or 5th round prospect, so getting a potential number 2 receiver in the seventh round is awesome.

Grade: A+

247. Marc Anthony, CB
Experience: Senior | School: California
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 196 lbs.

Analysis: Another steal in the 7th round. Viewed as a 4th or 5th round prospect, Marc Anthony will give them some much needed depth at corner, and could earn a lot of playing time early.

Grade: A+

2013 NFL Draft Overall Review:

Analysis: "Trust in Ozzie." Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome once again proved that he is one of the best General Managers in the NFL. He understands the draft, and how you build your team through it.

Baltimore filled a need at safety and inside linebacker in the first two rounds. Matt Elam could be viewed as an upgrade over Bernard Pollard, while Arthur Brown will be a stud at inside linebacker. Coming away with a starting nose tackle in the the third round as well as a future starting corner in the 7th round is a strong draft.

Offensively, even though they didn't draft a receiver early, Aaron Mellette was an absolute steal in the 7th round, and could become a starter for them. I also like Ricky Wagner in the fifth round.

Overall, the Ravens accomplished what they needed to do. As always, they filled some big needs, got great value, and came away with a couple of steals as well.

Overall Grade: A-

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Roger Gaines, OT
Experience: Senior | School: Tennessee State
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 334 lbs.

Analysis: I'm a little surprised Roger Gaines wasn't drafted. I believe he has a future in the NFL, and could earn a roster spot as a backup offensive tackle.

Other Free Agent Signings

Jeff Braun, OL, West Virginia
Jose Cheeseborough, CB, Florida International
Jermaine Copeland, OLB, Pennsylvania
Jordan Devey, OL, Memphis
Matt Furstenburg, TE, Maryland
Roger Gaines, OT, Tennessee State
Ray Holley, RB, Louisiana Tech
Murphy Holloway, TE, Mississippi
Moe Lee, CB, Utah
Gerrard Sheppard, WR, Towson
Nate Stanley, QB, Southeastern Louisiana
Trent Steelman, QB, Army
Brynden Trawick, DB, Troy

2013 Season Outlook:

Analysis: Another great draft for Ozzie Newsome should keep Baltimore near the top of the AFC. Losing two future Hall-of-Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on defense is tough, but expect the Ravens to still play at a high level.

Joe Flacco earned his money last season. Although he's been inconsistent throughout his career, Flacco enjoyed the best season of his career, leading and underdog Ravens team to a Super Bowl victory. The loss of Anquan Boldin will certainly be felt, as Flacco doesn't have a ton of weapons. Guys like Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss will have to step up.

Up front, the right tackle and center positions could be up for grabs. Michael Oher is projected to protect Joe Flacco's blindside. Although he is better on the right side, he's good enough to start at left tackle as well. Marshal Yanda is arguably the best right guard in football, and Kelechi Osemele is coming off of an impressive Super Bowl performance, and is projected to start at left guard.

Defensively, the Ravens will be as strong as they were last year, thanks to some very good free agent additions and draft picks. The defensive line led by Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones is deep. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears provide strong depth and Brandon Williams gives them an upgrade over Terrence Cody.

They lost Paul Kruger, but they get a better pass rusher in Elvin Dumervil to pair with Terrell Suggs. And let's not forget, Second round pick Courtney Upshaw is still in the mix, as is this year's fourth round pick John Simon. If Rolando McClain is given the benefit of the doubt, he should pair nicely with Arthur Brown. Their skill-sets complement each other well.

Cary Williams's departure means Jimmy Smith will have to step in across from a healthy Lardarius Webb (one of the top 5 corners in the league when healthy). Corey Graham is also a very capable starter, and I really like 7th round pick Marc Anthony to earn some early playing time. Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard were an impressive duo at safety, but Michael Huff and Matt Elam should be just as impressive.

2013 Season Projection:

Analysis: Baltimore is currently picking 23rd overall in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft. They chose 32nd this year's draft. The Bengals have improved, and you can't forget about the Steelers. The Ravens are expected to make the playoffs again, but this time around, I don't think they have what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl.

Projected Record: 9-7 (Worst Case) | 11-5 (Best Case)

Projected Finish: 2nd in the AFC North; Result: Lose in the Wild Card Round