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.

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