From Super Bowl title to mass exodus to having multiple veterans fall into their laps, the Ravens found themselves with yet another opportunity to reload via the draft. Let’s take a look at how they did.
What they needed: Inside linebacker, safety, tackle, center, receiver, tight end.
Who they got:
Round 1: Matt Elam, S, Florida.
Round 2: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas St.
Round 3: Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern St.
Round 4: John Simon, DE, Ohio St.
Round 4: Kyle Juszcyk, FB, Harvard.
Round 5: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin.
Round 6: Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame.
Round 6: Ryan Jensen, C, Colorado-State Pueblo.
Round 7: Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon.
Round 7: Marc Anthony, CB, California.
Where they hit: They needed a safety and an inside linebacker, and they got one of each early. While some may have preferred Manti Te’o with the last pick in round one, getting the safety then the inside linebacker makes more sense, given that plenty of inside linebackers were available in round two. The decision to swap three picks to move up for Brown shows that they wanted him, badly.
Where they missed: With all the hand-wringing regarding the departure of key players on defense, the decision to move on from receiver Anquan Boldin has been overlooked. Aaron Mellette, a sixth-rounder from Elon, fits the profile for a Boldin replacement, but he likely lacks the skill to pull it off. With tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson heading toward unrestricted free agency in 2014, the Ravens should have considered adding a tight end now.
Impact rookies: Elam and Brown should start right away. Most of the rest of the picks are guys who will be brought along slowly, with many emerging in time as key contributors.
Long-term prospects: The Ravens deftly blended present needs and future development. Like the 49ers and defensive end Tank Carradine, the Ravens squatted on defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, who tore an ACL in January and who can be put on scholarship for a season as he heals. Center Ryan Jensen provides depth at center at the retirement of Matt Birk. B asically, the Ravens had a Ravens draft. They got better where they needed to, and they stockpiled talent for the future. It’s hard to argue with an approach that has resulted in five straight playoff berths.