July 27, 2011

What direction will free agency take the Redskins?

The league has finally agreed on a new CBA. With hardly any time at all the teams are expected to enter free agency and begin their off-season. Things have been happening so fast that every time I look it seems someone has made a move somewhere in the league. The Washington Redskins have been making calculated moves thus far; here are their moves and moves things they should address as the off-season goes on.

Fill Bodies on the Defensive Line: Any great 3-4 defensive front shares something in common, a multitude of Defensive Line talent. When you look at the Ravens, the Steelers, and the Jets you see a quality group of linemen shifting in and out throughout a game causing trouble for the opposing offense. So far the Redskins have signed Barry Cofield; and lost DE Jeremy Jarmon via trade. Cofieldwill make a great addition as veteran body on the line. Look for the skins to continue to pick up valuable bodies here.

Re-Stock the WR position: The Redskins made their first key move by re-signing Santana Moss to a 3 year deal. This was a safety net move at the position. The Redskins signed free agents Donte Stallworth and Brandon Stokely adding two veterans who can provide veteran depth. The Redskins still need to find a number 1 receiver. They have traded for Jabar Gaffney by giving up DE Jeremy Jarmon. Gaffney, however, has never been a number 1 receiver. Either the redskins have faith they can keep Moss in that spot until rookie Leonard Hankerson steps up, or they are planning on signing another free agent. With Santonio Holmes and Sidney Rice off the market, sources say the Redskins are making a move for Braylon Edwards. My worry is that the skins will end up with too much competition at this position and ruin the future of their young WRs. The WR position this year is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Fortify the Offensive Line: One position the Redskins have yet to address is the offensive line. The skins need interior lineman and so far they have not addressed this in either the draft or through free agency. With Marshal Yanda back in Baltimore there hasn’t been too much movement at this position. Expect the Redskins to pick up some bodies at this position later on. I would like to see them trade for a lineman here. More than likely fans can count on a small change on the line this year with lack-luster results.

At the end of the day: The skins have more than addressed the WR position for now. The questions for this team no longer lie on the defensive line with veteran talent mixed in with some young hopefuls. Questions will remain with the quarterback position and bigger questions will linger on the offensive line. These positions need to be addressed and not ignored, especially with a question mark at quarterback and a young runningback corps.

July 25, 2011

Bring on the Season: My 5 Priorities for the Ravens

With the 2011 NFL Lockout a thing of the past, it is time to look forward to one of the craziest offseasons in history. On paper , the Baltimore Ravens appear poised to make another run at the AFC crown, but there is plenty of work to be done until the preseason kicks off on August 11th against the Eagles. The pending free agency will be a crucial time for the Ravens’ front office to determine who they can afford to bring back, as well players from other teams who can help the team return to the playoffs. To begin the offseason, the team is already set to release some its longest tenured membera s in Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, Derrick Mason, as well as Willis McGahee.  Here are my 5 priorities for the purple and black as they enter the upcoming season.

1) Stabilize the right side of the offensive line by re-signing Marshall Yanda.

Since he arrived in Baltimore, Yanda has simply fit the ‘Raven’ mold. A third-round pick out of Iowa four years ago, the right guard has overachieved and been nothing short of excellent, while also proving to be a capable right tackle last season when Jared Gaither was placed on the injured reserve. An unrestricted free agent, Yanda will garner attention from a lot of teams with cap room, including the Redskins. However, the Ravens must do whatever they can to keep him around. With his strong work ethic, versatility and knowledge of the system, he is simply too valuable to the team if they are serious about making a Super Bowl run.

2) Determine which cornerback to bring back: Chris Carr or Josh Wilson.

With the Ravens continuing to clear cap room by the minute, it seems that some of the new-found money will be spent on the likes of either Carr or Wilson. Both cornerbacks played above expectations last season, as Carr was the team’s most consistent corner who was often matched up against the opponent’s best receiver. Wilson, who was acquired in a late offseason trade last season with the Seahawks, also saw action in the starting lineup. I will forever remember the Dirty Terp for his game-winning pick-six against the Texans, one that may have saved the Ravens season.

The team will only be able to pay one of these players what they want, and the safer bet (and my personal preference) is Carr. With 1st round pick Jimmy Smith and a healthy Domonique Foxworth around, Carr is not the type of player who will lay down and let those two claim the starting jobs. I fully expect Carr to build off of last season and keep the starting cornerback job that he owned last season. With either one of these men back, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, the team’s former secondary coach, will have all sorts of personnel options that Greg Mattison did not have last year. As the season progresses, we will find that cornerback could turn into a position of strength, which will only help the team’s lagging pass-rush.

3) Find a veteran back-up quarterback.

There are a number of quarterbacks who could be on the move in the next week or two, and hopefully one of them will be a veteran quarterback to Baltimore. While my choice for the job, Kerry Collins, has since retired, there are still plenty of options for the Ravens to choose from. One could be bringing back Marc Bulger, who seemed to flourish as a clipboard holder in addition to being a solid mentor to Joe Flacco. However, with many starting quarterback jobs available, Bulger could go out west for a chance to compete and prove he can still be a starter in the NFL.

With young quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Hunter Cantwell around, there is even more of a need for an experienced quarterback to help break down film and teach the nuances of the position. With the starting job not in question, I trust that Ozzie Newsome and co. will find the right man for the job.

4) Fortify the backfield.

The expected release of Willis McGahee simply leaves a void in the no. 2 running back position behind Ray Rice. The team has guys likes Jalen Parmele and Matt Lawrence on the roster, but both are short on experience and best serve the team as special teamers. 7th round pick Anthony Allen is intriguing to me in the sense that he fits the bigger back mold that the Ravens need. I can’t help but think that he will get significant carries in the preseason to determine his worth.

The team is also in need of a fullback, and it could address both the backup running back and fullback job in different ways. With the amount of cuts that the team has made already, bringing back unrestricted free agent Le’Ron McClain seems plausible. McClain has dedicated himself to becoming a running back, as his weight is down to about 245. (compared to his playing weight last year around 260) With this being the case, McClain could re-sign to be the team’s power back and sign a fullback in free agency. (i.e. Lawrence Vickers, Heath Evans) The Ravens could also attempt to re-sign McClain as their starting fullback and give him more carries to keep him happy. Regardless, Ray Rice needs a solid blocker in front of him, and the Ravens must keep their eyes open when it comes to the backup running back and fullback market.

5) Find the next undrafted free agent star.

The Ravens scouting department has proven time and time again that you can find undrafted players who can contribute week in and week out. Every year, an undrafted free agent makes the team, and I would love to see who that guy is this year.

Mark Herzlich’s story has been well-documented, and he will be the most sought-after UFA in years. There will certainly be a bidding war for him, as most scouts see him as a 3-down player once he is given the opportunity. The Ravens would be wise to contact him, but Ravens fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for this former Boston College star.

Josh Bynes is a player I was high on going into the draft, and the Ravens would be wise to make him an offer. A high-motor guy who is also a tackling machine, Bynes would benefit from a training camp with Ray Lewis. This year, UFAs were particularly hurt by the lockout, as they have spent the past few months with no teams or playbooks. No matter, the Ravens know how to spot talent, and I can assure you that there will be one suiting up on week 1 against the Steelers.

June 2, 2011

Grading the Raven’s 2011 Draft

After ending my semester on a high note, I can finally get back to doing what I love: writing about Ravens football. Not even five minutes into my summer vacation, I was able to get a glimpse of Ray Rice, 7th round pick Anthony Allen, and 2nd round pick Torrey Smith. Does it matter that it was only in the parking lot at Towson University? Some would argue yes, but so far the reports from the Ravens unofficial workouts at Johnny Unitas Stadium have been good. The workouts were meant to familiarize the rookies with their veteran teammates, and get their first taste of life in the NFL.

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Ravens added a lot of intriguing offensive and defensive pieces for the “upcoming year.” Here is my analysis of the Ravens selections.

1st Round: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado

In my mock draft, I had the Ravens taking defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, who was still on the board at 27. However, the top-10 talent and glaring need for a shutdown corner was too much to pass up. At 6′ 2” 210, Smith has the size to matchup with guys like A.J. Green and the speed to cover Mike Wallace. After not attending the workouts at Towson, Ravens fans anxiously await Smith’s debut in the purple and black. Whether it’s what he does on or off the field, time will tell whether taking a chance on Smith and passing on Wilkerson was a good thing. Grade: B+

2nd Round: WR Torrey Smith, Maryland

This was the only selection that I got right, and I suppose I should be proud. Scouts rave of Smith’s potential to contribute on offense and special teams, and the Ravens’ front office is hoping they have found the deep threat that Joe Flacco has so desperately needed. Guys from Maryland have always tested very well at the combine (see Vernon Davis, Darius Heyward-Bey, Domonique Foxworth, etc.) and Smith is no exception. There is a huge difference between testing well and performing well in the National Football League. Smith will get the opportunity to play in the slot position, and he will make defenses go crazy when placed on the same side of the field as Anquan Boldin. Grade: B

3rd Round: OT Jah Reid, Central Florida

The Ravens moved up 5 spots to take Reid, a mammoth of a man at 6’7” 325lbs. The former Knight is a very good pass blocker who uses his frame and footwork to take care of oncoming rushers. This skill is crucial when the Ravens get into 3rd and long situations; the more time that Reid and Michael Oher give Flacco to go through his progressions, the better. With the unknown free agent status of Jared Gaither, this pick makes a lot of sense. If Gaither re-signs, still look for Reid to get his fair share of snaps in the unbalanced and goal line formations, in addition to being the top backup at both tackle positions. If Gaither exits, then it’s Reid’s job to lose. Grade: B-

4th Round: WR Tandon Doss, Indiana

It is incredible that a guy like Doss fell into the Ravens lap in at pick number 123. Once considered a 2nd round prospect, Doss’ stock declined dude to an injury he suffered during his junior season. At 6’2” and 200lbs, Doss’ strengths lie in his route-running, as well as his soft hands. Doss was also a participant in the Towson workouts, which only helps his case when it comes to competing for snaps. Had the Ravens taken Doss at 58, the team would have received a lot of flack from draft gurus. However, taking Doss two rounds later could be a steal. While he may not make a significant impact as a rookie, Doss could be a future 60-70 reception guy in the near future. Grade: A-

5th Round: DB Chykie Brown, Texas

To me, this pick did not make much sense. Having already addressed the cornerback issue with Jimmy Smith, the Ravens have solid depth at the position, with guys who bring different things to the table. At safety, the team doesn’t have as much depth, which is the only reason this pick has any value or upside. Brown comes from a school known for having successful defensive backs in the NFL, but his strengths are similar to Lardarius Webb, where he displays speed and agility that allows him to cover deep routes as well as close in on short passes. With that said, I doubt that Brown will be able to unseat Webb. I would have liked to have seen the Ravens take a pass-rusher (perhaps Pittsburgh’s Greg Romeus) or a middle linebacker like a Josh Bynes. (who went undrafted, much to my surprise) Grade: C-

5th Round: DE Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State

Instead of opting for a strict pass-rusher, the Ravens decided to take a versatile end in McPhee. At 6’3” and just under 280 lbs, McPhee has the ability to line up in the 3-4 as well as the 4-3, something that Chuck Pagano will certainly take advantage of. McPhee began playing football as a senior in high school, so there is still some room to grow. Athletically speaking, McPhee should see a lot of snaps in the preseason, and look for him to provide an immediate impact on special teams. Grade: B+

6th Round: QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech

After watching the Ravens’ offense this past season, I couldn’t help but miss the Suggs Package. With Marc Bulger as the only other quarterback on the roster, we hardly saw any trick plays, and with the weapons that the team had, it was very disappointing. The addition of Taylor is one that I find to be an excellent move. Teams we weary of drafting him as a quarterback prospect, fearing that he did not have the arm to make all of the throws in the NFL. In Baltimore, Taylor will be a nice change of pace to Flacco, and it will allow for Cam Cameron to call more Wildcat-type plays that call for an athletic quarterback (or two). Once the lockout ends, look for the Ravens to grab a veteran quarterback (say Todd or Kerry Collins) to man the no. 3 position on the depth chart, and help Taylor hone his craft as a quarterback. Grade: A-

7th Round: RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech

When I was waiting for the Ravens to make their last selection, I told my friends in the dorm room that the team should get Allen. I predicted the Ravens to take a bigger back, and Allen’s size and collegiate production makes him a great pick in this round. Allen’s 6’1” 230lb frame will provide just the perfect amount of thunder to Ray Rice’s lightning. Playing mostly out of the triple-option formation in college, there will be some growing pains for Allen. However, after seeing him leave with Rice after the workouts at Towson, he appears to be a quick learner. While it isn’t always easy to get excited over seventh round draft choices, the Ravens choice of Allen should be one they won’t soon regret. With Willis McGahee’s status with the team uncertain, Allen could be the team’s primary 3rd-and-short runner, as well a reliable goal-line back who can line up anywhere in the backfield. Grade: A

May 6, 2011

Redskins Trading Game

The Washington Redskins surprised everyone this year by trading down. A lot of fans love this new approach. They turned 7 draft picks into 12 and got a lot of solid talent from what we know now. First let’s look at some of the high light picks. Then we’ll look at what holes the Redskins need to fill next.

When most people hear the name Ryan Kerrigan they have no idea who in the world that is. He’s a former Defensive End out of Purdue who is soon to become a linebacker in Washington’s 3-4 opposite Brian Orakpo. What I like about this guy is that he’s going to work as hard as he can to get his job done. He is your “meat and potatoes” linebacker. He’s ready to get dirty and do whatever you ask of him. We’ll see how long it takes for him to get used to dropping back in pass protection. At 16, he fills the last of the needs in the linebacking corps in the front 7. I’d like to see the Orakpo and Kerrigan duo in Washington for years.

Jarvis Jenkins is a safe pick in the second round for the Redskins. He’s a nice 310 pounds of meat out of Clemson that is expected to come in and stop the run. Expect to see this DT to come in and start at DE and be a solid presence on a line in need of talent. My personal favorite pick was the Redskins third guy off the board, Leonard Hankerson, a WR out of Miami. Miami produces playmakers, but more importantly this guy has some size. The Devin Thomas and Malcom Kelly experiement didn’t work out in Washington; but expect Hankerson to come in and make a solid impact across from Santana Moss in the 2011-2012 season. I expect this kid to come in and catch around 60 balls, 800 yards, and 7 TDs in his rookie season. Not bad for a third round pick.

The Redskins went after two runningbacks in this draft. A choice i’m praying works out. Roy Helu and Evan Royster have some solid talent and could come in to Shanahan’s system and provide a decent impact year one. Just give these guys a capable offensive line and they’ll be good ball-carriers down the road.

Down the list the Redskins Drafted a OG late by the name of Maurice Hurt out of Florida. I don’t see what first year impact this guy brings but he’ll add depth to a line in need of something good. An interesting choice was to go after two corners; Brandyn Thompson out of Boise State and Dejon Gomes out of Nebraska. You can never have enough corners so we’ll see what impact they have in this unit that is solid enough. Keep an eye on this draft class. It could be a bunch of low talent waste of spaces or an excellent draft providing depth and youth to this team.

Where does Washington go from here?

Quarterback: The Redskins didn’t answer this question in the draft. I’ll have more on this situation in a coming article specifically about the QB position. I am willing to accept this if this choice allows us to have depth on our team in the future. They need to bring in a lower priced veteran until they can get a guy in the draft. That’s the answer for now and Redskins fans will just have to accept it.

Offensive Line: I am hoping the Redskins are thinking what i’m thinking. They passed up some talented interior lineman here. The Redskins must have faith in Jamaal Brown and expect Stephon Heyer to come back next year. They don’t seem to be worrying about the RT position. The Redskins have got to spend money at this position in free agency. There are some guys they can target out there that are still young and have plenty of talent. Bring them in and make that interior line a non-issue. This is where the Redskins have to start on offense no matter who is under center or catching balls.

Wide Receiver: Don’t be surprised if the Redskins make a splash after a guy like Sidney Rice or Vincent Jackson at this position. At the same time, don’t be surprised if they don’t. They have some young guys now to build at this position along with a stalwort veteran in Santana Moss who has another year or two left in the tank. Add that with the talented TE position and we have enough pass catchers to get the job done in a solid fashion this year.

Defensive Line: This is my major concern going forth. Someone has got to step up on this line in order for this defense to work. With Albert Haynesworth likely gone, we can finally build something here. Where do we start? That is a good question, I hope the Redskins can get something going here next season or we’ll be in for a long one. We need depth at the DE position and we need a proper NT. Free agency doesn’t give us much at this position so we’ll have to hope our guys can step up, I hate to say it.

Linebackers: All that’s needed this year really is depth. With Kerrigan playing opposite Orakpo, and with London Fletcher doing work down the middle, all that the Redskins really need is depth all around and a solid presence in the other MLB spot. Where’s the worry at this position? There isn’t much.

K/P: There are free agent options to go after. If the Redskins choose not to go in that direction than they need a prayer here. These positions have barely been talked about because we have such other pressing needs right now.

It’s clear to me the Redskins have some sort of plan. Don’t expect the Redskins to come out and win this division next year. What we can hope for is that they come in and develop and play hard. That’s all we can ask for as Washington rebuilds.

April 29, 2011

Let the Circus Begin- Round One Thoughts

Round 1 is officially in the books, and football fans can’t help but get excited for next season. The top of the draft went smoothly, with consensus top prospects Cam Newton, Von Miller, and Patrick Peterson all going in the top 5. It wasn’t until the Tennessee Titans selection of Jake Locker that dictated the rest of the first round. By taking Locker, a better athlete than quarterback who struggled in his senior season at Washington, other teams felt the pressure to over-draft, while others decided to let the best remaining prospects come to them.

With the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens making first day “moves,” John and I can both breathe a sigh of relief. The Redskins, who initially held the tenth pick, elected to switch picks with Jacksonville in exchange for the Jaguars’ 49th overall pick. Meanwhile, the Ravens provided some excitement by passing on their selection. After thinking they had a trade in place with the Chicago Bears, something fell through, and the Ravens allowed the Chiefs to move up one spot to take former Pitt product Jonathan Baldwin. The Ravens still got their cornerback in Jimmy Smith, whose lack of excitement after the announcement has already generated some buzz online.

Here are John Sisson’s thoughts on the Redskins pick of Ryan Kerrigan, and his thoughts and expectations of tomorrow:

The Washington Redskins are not a team to play it safe in the Dan Snyder era; that was until Mike Shanahan came along. I think their philosophy in this draft was to bring in blue collar guys onto the struggling offensive and defensive fronts. A lot of fans wanted and expected some “help us now” picks. I don’t think the redskins would be quite ready for that without the right moves.

The Pick: With pick 16 of the 2011 NFL draft the Washington Redskins select… Ryan Kerrigan, LB out of Purdue. Wait! Did he just say 16? Where’s our QB? The Washington Redskins traded out of the number 10 spot to pick up the 16th overall pick of the first round plus an additional 2nd round pick from the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Ryan Kerrigan they get a guy who can stick his hand in the dirt and play ball. A safe pick for the Redskins who can’t afford a failure in the draft without a base for this aging team. They solidify their linebacking corps with this pick and show me that their priority is to build a team for the future.

What to expect tomorrow: Watch for the Redskins to pick up a guy like Stephen Wisniewski, OC, out of Penn State. This gives hope to a unit that you could say is “out of touch” on the football feild. He’s young, he’s big, and he’s good. With a lack of Centers in free agency this is a guy to build the interior of your offensive line around.

I expect the Redskins to make a move for a WR in this round too. Look out for them to pick up either Leonard Hankerson, Greg Little, or Torrey Smith. They’ll address this position in the second round and in free agency.

One might ask why the Redskins wouldn’t take a Quarterback here. Perhaps they go after Andy Dalton or Ryan Mallett. Shanahan may want to build that core before he goes picking up someone who won’t take the reigns right away.

Here are Barry Kamen’s thoughts on the Ravens newest addition, and some insight into Round 2.

As Roger Goodell announced the Kansas City Chiefs pick at 26, I was in complete shock. The Ravens were picking at 26! How could this be?! Despite the discrepancy with Chicago, the Ravens had a plethora of prospects to choose from. Muhammad Wilkerson was my selection in our mock draft, and he was still available. However Jimmy Smith’s combination of size, speed, and shutdown corner skills were too much to pass up. With the pending free agencies of Chris Carr and Josh Wilson, it is now likely that the Ravens will only bring one of them back (hopefully Carr) to join a solid group that includes Dominique Foxworth, Lardarius Webb, and Cary Williams.

Looking ahead to round two, the Ravens will more than likely look to address the need at wide receiver. Only three wide receivers were chosen in round one, with the only surprise being Baldwin, a big-bodied target with his own slew of character issues. At 58, the Ravens will look to add one of the receivers that John eluded to. If Titus Young, a former Boise State standout, is available, the team would be silly not to take him.

If a wide receiver isn’t to their liking, the Ravens could search for offensive tackle depth. The Bengals strong selection of A.J. Green was countered with the drafting of Smith.  The Steelers selection of Cameron Hayward give them yet another great pass rusher who can put the hurt on Joe Flacco. In order to compete in the AFC North, a stable offensive line is necessary in order to open holes for Ray Rice and provide protection for Flacco. An intriguing prospect is TCU’s Marcus Cannon, who at nearly 365 lbs, would provide a dominating presence, both in the trenches, as well as the buffet line.

With six more rounds to go, the drama and excitement surrounding the NFL Draft has just begun. Look for our thoughts later in the weekend as both the Ravens and Redskins continue to do their homework. The circus has only begun, and we cannot wait to see the Patriots kick off Day Two.

April 27, 2011

The Ultimate Sports Comedy- Mocking the 2011 NFL Draft

This year i’ve seen more discussion on the draft than ever before. Barry Kamen and I will be crazy enough to take the challenge to mock the entire draft for our teams. The problem with this year’s draft is no one knows what anyone will do. They may have ideas, but simply put, this year depends much on what decisions teams will make. If the QB trend occurs than that allows a lot of skill players and defenders to fall into the second and late 1st round. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be several first and second round surprises. There will be reaches and falls all across the board as the teams play the ultimate game of Roulette Las Vegas style.

With all of this being the case our coveted DMV teams will be right in the thick of things making moves to affect the future of their francises. We’ll start with the Redskins because they are right in the thick of what is likely to be biggest draft changing section of picks in draft history. With pick number 10 they can go in several directions as far as moving up or down in the draft. In addition to that, they have several glaring needs. Expect the Redskins to chase one player or pick the best talent left at their spot. Let’s look at their needs:

Redskins 2011 glaring needs: QB, OL, WR, OLB, DL

The redskins are likely to go offense here; Mike Shanahan’s love for the offensive side of the ball will definately see a priority to add quality talent early here. Don’t be surprised however if they take a need at DE or OLB if the WRs don’t fall. Later in the draft defensive talent as well as OL talent will be available in the mid rounds. Watch for the redskins to trade into the 3rd round. Let’s take a look at round 1 of this draft.

ROUND 1

My pick: Julio Jones, WR- I’m going to jump on the bandwagon here. I think this is a safe pick for the skins. They cannot go QB this early unless Gabbert or Newton is on the board. Someone is going to come up to Dallas’s spot and take a QB or anyone that might slide to the skins. Teams aren’t going to take a WR this early with the talent at this position this year and I think that leaves the second best WR in the draft to fall to the redskins.

 

ROUND 2

My pick: Phil Taylor, DT- The Redskins have one glaring need on defense. Only one that will make or break their future next season. That is DL, particularly NT. This guy is one of those that will fall a few spots because of the weird draft. He could start day one and make a solid presence in this 3-4 defense. The Skins pass on Mallet here because he’s gone. Teams are going to go crazy as soon as Gabbert is off the board. Miami or the 49ers may take a look at Mallet and that’s the only guy Shanahan will pick up this late in the draft. The skins will be satisfied with Phil Taylor at this spot.

TRADE ALERT!!!- Watch out for the skins to use their plethora of mid and late round picks to trade into the third round. A lot of steals will be available in this round and the redskins have enough picks to trade in here. Look for them to take a OLB or OL in this round. (The mock draft will not reflect a trade, however, it is very possible it will happen.

Round 5

My picks: Kris O’Dowd C- With Stephen Wisniewski off the board before the redskins pick in round 2 they are going to want to start taking some prospects at the interior of their offensive line. Look for them to take the most talented OC left on the board.

Ricky Elmore DE- The skins are going to look to add some young talent to their line for the future. Look for them to take a DE or OLB here. I imagine their going to take Ricky Elmore as the best talent in these areas left on the board that will fit in their system.

Round 6

My picks: Akeem Dent ILB- The skins find a solid presence at middle linebacker in years future with this pick in round 6.

Round 7

My picks: Evan Royster RB- The Redskins go back to offense here. Mike Shanahan finds those late round RB’s because of his scheme he is no miracle worker. They’ll pick this guy up and add them to their young RB group. If they can build their line he’ll make a decent first year impact being 3rd string.

Andrew Jackson G- The Redskins are going to address their line here in hope to find a late round steal for the future. This is one of the possibilities at this position.

Caleb Schlauderaff, G- This kid has a lot of brains and the skins are hoping that helps to add depth or maybe a steal in round 7.

 

The Baltimore Ravens look to take their offense to the next level in this year’s draft with one or two peices for added depth. Defensively they still rank amongst the top the league but the age is slowly showing itself. If they Ravens don’t address that now they could find themselves figuring out their offense while their defense begins to fall apart at the seams.

Ravens 2011 glaring needs: CB, OC, DE, SS

 

1st Round (26th Pick) Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple
This 6-4, 305 lb has the versatility that new D-Coordinator Chuck Pagano will love. With the ability to play inside and outside on the 3-4 line, Wilkerson will be a threat to rush the passer from any down position. Wilkerson surprised scouts by leaving Temple early, and the Ravens would love to add him to their rotation.

2nd round (57) Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Smith initially flew up draft boards with his blend of size and great speed. However, Smith has lost some of his value to the new kickoff rules, where he looked to offer some serious value as a returner. Nonetheless, the Ravens would be thrilled to get him here, providing Joe Flacco a legitimate deep threat who will benefit from being around Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

3rd round (90) Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
The little-known House has good size (6-0 ½, 195) and speed (4.50) that the Ravens secondary could desperately use. While there will be some necessary transition time, House has the makings of a starting cornerback in the near future. His ability to play physical press and man coverage has gone over well with scouts, and the Ravens have been known to take small-school cornerbacks in the third round. Here’s to hoping that House turns out more like Lardarius Webb than David Pittman.

Round 4 (123) Zach Hurd, OL, Connecticut
At a shade under 6-7 and weighing 325 lbs, Hurd has a great frame that will make him a prime commodity for teams looking for offensive line depth. He is comfortable playing both guard and tackle, and could get a long look in the preseason to determine his top backup position. If he winds up in Baltimore, Hurd’s run-blocking skills will push Chris Chester for the top backup guard position.

Round 5 (164) Josh Bynes, MLB, Auburn
As an Alabama guy, Ozzie Newsome may have trouble giving Joe Hortiz the green light on this pick. But all you have to do is put on film of Bynes to know why he is of great value at this selection. Bynes was a tackling machine for the national champions, leading the team with 73 total tackles, along with 3 interceptions. With an obvious mentor in Ray Lewis, Bynes could be the team’s middle linebacker of the future.

Round 5 (165) Ricky Elmore, OLB/DE, Arizona
Elmore fits the mold of a ‘tweener’ that the Ravens have been able to rely on over the years. With his size (6-4, 260) and pass-rushing abilities (11 sacks his senior season), Elmore has the great value teams look for in the mid to late rounds. While we cannot expect him to become the next Adalius Thomas, the former Wildcat has all the tools to rack up sacks as a complement to Terrell Suggs.

Round 6 (180) John Clay, RB, Wisconsin
This may be too high of a selection for someone like Clay, who is seen by many as a one-dimensional runner with very little NFL value. However, at 258 lbs, the Ravens have a need for a big back who could be the thunder to Ray Rice’s lightning. If he shows a willingness to line up at fullback and play special teams, Clay could turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

Round 6 (191) DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Miss
By this point, the Ravens look for a low-risk, high-reward player in the former Golden Eagle. At 6-6, there is hope that a big-bodied receiver is just what Joe Flacco needs in the red zone. Despite running a 4.6 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, Brown still has value as a situational receiver.

Round 7 (225) Josh Portis, QB, California (PA)
Local sports fans may recall Portis, a former Terp who was forced to leave the university after getting caught cheating on an exam. At the Division II level, Portis thrived, setting school records in passing yards(3,421) and touchdowns (36). After receiving an invite to the Combine this year, it seems that Portis has been back on the radar for some teams looking for a backup quarterback. With some mobility to his credit, Portis seems like a solid seventh round selection who could help bring back the Suggs Package.

 

 

April 26, 2011

Movin’ on up…Washington Redskins may look to take a huge risk

Recent rumours have surfaced today announcing that the Washington Redskins are trying to move up into the top 3 to pick up what we assume is a QB. While the skins could be making a move for Von Miller at OLB or AJ Green at WR; I’m going to believe the hype and feel that the skins have found their guy. They aren’t going up to get my favorite QB in this draft Ryan Mallett (complete sarcasm, read our first article). They’ll move up to get one guy who they believe will develop into a top quarterback for years to come. That guy is none other than….

BLAINE GABBERT! Not Cam Newton because he is too much of a risk to pick this early. While he may fit better in the Washington system than most teams drafting in the top 15 I believe they are making this move to take Blaine Gabbert. He’s an intelligent QB that is ready to lead early on in his career. He has an arm ready for the pros. A lot of people worry about the spread offense he ran in college, however, it’s an overrated worry. Plus this guy knows how to take snaps. He’s been preparing for the NFL for quite some time so the adjustment won’t take long. Look for him to start for the skins in 2012 or towards the end of the 2011 season.

April 24, 2011

Ravens Report- What to Do at 26

The Needs: CB, OT, DE

After another strong season that ended in much disappointment, the Ravens find themselves picking in the bottom of the first round yet again. The top need for the Ravens is much like last year’s: a shut-down cornerback who can play the bump-and-run with opponent’s top receivers. Despite strong seasons from Chris Carr and Josh Wilson, the image of Antonio Brown’s catch in the 2nd round playoff game will haunt the Ravens for not addressing the cornerback issue last year. At 26, the Ravens are in a good position to land someone like Colorado’s Jimmy Smith if they so choose.

Pundits and Ravens’ front office members will tend to disagree on the need at offensive tackle. After moving Michael Oher from the right side to the left side, the offensive line was somewhat disappointing. With Jared Gaither out for the season, the team was forced to move Marshal Yanda to right tackle, moving perennial backup Chris Chester to the starting right guard position. Oher struggled all year with false-start penalties, and there has been many who question his ability to handle the blind-side responsibilities. The team seems pleased with Oher at the left tackle position, and are excited by the potential of Ramon Harewood, a sixth-rounder last year, who could fight for the starting right tackle job, allowing Yanda to move back inside. Depending on who is available, the Ravens may take an offensive tackle like Mississippi State’s Derrek Sherrod, Colorado’s Nate Solder, or Villanova’s Ben Ijalana.

It wouldn’t be another NFL Draft if the Ravens weren’t in the market for a defensive end who can play the run and put pressure on the quarterback. Looking for that next player to complement Terrell Suggs, there are a number of DE/OLB types who have been given high first-round grades that seem just out of the Ravens’ reach. Look for them to nab a pass-rusher in the middle rounds.


Trade Bait

Last year, the Ravens opted to trade out of the first round and stockpile draft picks, and this year could be no different. With each day that passes, it appears that teams are more and more enamored with this year’s quarterback class. Guys like Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, and Christian Ponder all came into the offseason with solid 2nd or 3rd-round grades. Now, three have risen up draft boards, and could all be chosen in the first round. There are quite a few teams in need of a quarterback, and many will consider trading back into round one to get their guy.

The Pick

At 6-2, 205 lbs. Jimmy Smith has the size at cornerback that scouts love. While no one questions his talent, it is Smith’s character issues that have caused him to fall on some team’s draft boards. However, Mel Kiper Jr. has moved Smith up to number 16 on his, “Big Board,” which worries some Ravens fans if he will be around when the Ravens are on the clock.

The consensus pick amongst sports writers and draft gurus is that Smith will be wearing purple and black next year. The character flaws will not deter the Ravens from picking any player, as locker rooms leaders like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will nurture a guy like Smith if he is in need of a role model.

Personally, I think the Ravens will opt out of round one yet again. Too many teams will come calling, and many will jostle for position to get the likes of Kaepernick, Dalton, Ponder, and even Ryan Mallett. The possibility of bringing in more players to add depth at other positions will be too much for Ozzie Newsome and the gang to pass up.

April 19, 2011

The Ryan Mallet Conspiracy

There has been recent news “confirming” what the Washington Redskins are doing with pick number 10 in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Reports have surfaced that the Redskins are locking in on Ryan Mallett (QB out of Arkansas) at that pick. Here are reasons why the Redskins marriage with Ryan Mallett may not be a lock at number 10:

The Redskins have needs- I think it’s clear that the Washington Redskins have a plethora of needs. First of which is the interior of the offensive line. Without this need met, it does not matter who is behind center. Ryan Mallett, not being a mobile quarterback is going to need an offensive line here to have any kind of success his first year. Are the skins going offensive line with their first pick? The answer is “probably not” because there isn’t an offensive lineman worthy of this spot. With that said what about the talent of an A.J. Green or Julio Jones at this spot? Talent wise it’s a better buy and a need we have that should make any quarterback here look better. We also look at the talent of Mark Ingram at runningback, various talented DE/OLB which would help complete our defense. There are too many directions to go with this pick. Why set your sights on one who barely warrants a first round selection so early?

Trade Bait- I would personally like to shake hands with the Redskins staff member who came up with the idea of telling everyone Ryan Mallett was going to the Redskins at number 10. It’s ingenious as far as raising your stock for that number 10 spot. Even if they are going the Ryan Mallett route you know they aren’t going to take him at number 10. They are going to use this hype to trade down and pick up some new picks in the 2nd and 3rd. If this happens you can feel very confident with the Redskins decisions. This “leak” is a great opportunity to gain interest in the number 10 spot.

Most important Draft- This draft could be considered the most important draft in a very long time. This does not exclude the Redskins. It was not only important for their remodeling of their franchise, but exceedingly important because we have no idea when Free Agency will take place. There is no trading players until this is solved. With questions surrounding Free Agency teams have to be sure to solve their needs through the draft the best way possible. With so much unknown it’s hard to tell what any team will do in this draft.

Ryan Mallett?- All offseason we’ve been hearing a lot about the quarterbacks in this draft. Something we normally hear every single season when the draft nears. Quarterbacks are generally overhyped and claimed to be taken earlier than they usually are. Especially in recent years when talent at this position has been sub-par. Many of these quarterbacks don’t warrant a first round pick. Expect Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert to be off the board in the first 10 picks. Don’t expect Ryan Mallett to be taken so early. The only way he’ll be taken is if a team trades back and picks him up. Besides he’s probably going to be on the bench for at least half a season with the Redskins. Why pick him up so early?

Analysis: Everyone clearly has their own opinion on what the skins should do with pick number 10. I’ll let you guys know mine. I think the skins should pick up AJ Green or Julio Jones. It’s a gamble picking at WR this early but it could pay major dividends. With the giant talent pool at WR and these two guys being at the top, you have a definite offensive weapon at your side that can be utilized as soon as the OL and QB position is addressed. Offensive line can be addressed through free agency. There are plenty of young, talented Guards there. I don’t think there is a franchise quarterback available for the redskins, not one that doesn’t need time to develop. Why waste a good pick on addressing this need here when it’s not really addressed. Set up the rest of your offense and defense and get a veteran in there until you are ready to find your guy. My opinion seems like a gamble but when you really look at the options the Skins have it doesn’t look as dangerous. The Redskins are remodeling their franchise, not one quarterback away from success.

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