It won’t be easy to win a second straight Super Bowl in Baltimore. But with five consecutive playoff appearances, there’s no reason to think the Ravens won’t at least be in contention. To have a chance at repeating as champs, however, here are the holes that the Ravens should be trying to fill on draft day.
Inside linebacker: The retirement of Ray Lewis came as no surprise. The defection of Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins did. That makes inside linebacker a no-brainer need for the Ravens, even though no one should underestimate their ability to reload from within. (And speaking of “no-brainer,” the recent arrest of Rolando McClain makes the need at inside linebacker even more glaring.)
Safety: Bernard Pollard was cut. Ed Reed jumped to the Texans. Michael Huff represents a short-term stop-gap. The Ravens need to find the next Ed Reed.
Tackle: Michael Oher was drafted to become a decade-long left tackle, but he’s never been able to thrive there. So he stays on the right side, and the Ravens look for ways to handle the left. If Bryant McKinnie, who remains a free agent, doesn’t return, the Ravens need to find a new left tackle elsewhere.
Center: Matt Birk has called it quits, after a stellar career. Even if Gino Gradkowski can get it done, they Ravens need depth at the position.
Receiver: No draft ever will provide the Ravens a player with the strength, savvy, and box-out abilities of Anquan Boldin. But the Ravens at least should be looking for someone who could eventually fill that void.
Tight end: While Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson can get it done for now, neither is under contract beyond 2013. (Technically, neither is under contract currently.) The Ravens need to line up a potential replacement for one of them, and then keep the other.