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


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: