Friday, March 26, 2010
Baltimore Ravens 2010 First Round Draft Outlook
The NFL draft is less than a month away, and it's getting to the point where players are starting to be pegged to certain teams. Me? I'm just glad the Ravens are no longer associated with drafting a quarterback high in the draft. Thank you, Joe Flacco.
The Ravens are a stacked team going into the 2010 campaign and only have a few needs. None of the needs are too glaring, however; but they could use some players at tight end, defensive line, cornerback, and wide receiver.
Tight End: The preference for the Ravens at pick #25 is to take Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham. Gresham was the nation's top tight end prospect heading into the 2009 season, but he suffered a torn ACL before it all started. He showed at the combine that he is back to being the physical specimen he was before, and the Ravens would love to take him with their first round pick. He represents youth, good blocking, solid hands, and fine speed at a position where the Ravens are getting older with Todd Heap. Heap is no longer what he once was, but he is still a very dependable player with the same sure hands he's had since becoming a first round pick in his own right back in 2001.
Gresham would make a fine pick here at 25 both in terms of value and long term for the Ravens.
Cornerback: Let's just throw top corner prospect Joe Haden of Florida out of the mix for now because he will be long gone by the time the 25th pick rolls around. The Ravens are said to like Boise State's Kyle Wilson and Rutgers' Devin McCourty. Both players are fast, have good hip movement, and can play the ball. I think if Grisham is gone by 25, the Ravens will try and trade down to acquire one of these two corners.
McCourty is my preference because of his size and skill set. I like corners who are a little bigger that can run and play the ball in the air. He has the ability to return kicks, too, which increases his value to the team. McCourty can be paired with Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb when Webb returns from ACL surgery.
Defensive Line: Let's be honest here, too. The two dominant tackles in the draft will be gone at 25 as well. Brandon Graham of Michigan is an intriguing option here because he can play defensive end and outside linebacker. I would prefer him at this spot, and he certainly could be available at 25. Another option would be Everson Griffen of USC. Griffen needs to show a better motor at this point, but the Ravens are known to squeeze everything they have on defense out of a player. There isn't too much of a read on this position as far as who the Ravens like at this point.
Wide Receiver: The Ravens brought in two wide receivers this offseason to compliment the incumbent Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. Anqaun Boldin and Donte Stallworth were brought in to help put the team over the hump, and I believe they can. Both players will compliment each other very well. Boldin works the middle better than almost anybody in the league, Mason can work the sideline better than almost anybody in the league, and Stallworth can run the deeper patterns as well as most. In football, much is made about what a player cannot do. Well, that's why it's a team game, and you have other players compliment what others cannot do. What you have is a beautiful mix of blending what everybody does well onto the field with team concepts.
As far as the draft goes, I can see the Ravens taking Demaryius Thomas from Georgia Tech. Thomas is a big, strong, and fast receiver who can stretch the field, yet make the tough catches. He could use a little development, but he won't be called on to do much with the Ravens in 2010, and he will have two of the best mentors anyone could ask for in Boldin and Mason.
Another receiver option would be Golden Tate out of Notre Dame. Tate is not a very tall guy, but he's strong as an ox and makes tough catches over the middle and on the sidelines. Tate has been compared to Hines Ward, and for a guy to be compared like that is high praise. Ward showed 4.3 speed at the combine and has shown great open field ability, too.
I would be okay if the Ravens took either of these two receivers.
The Ravens are in the fortunate position of being a great drafting team. Their scouting department led by GM Ozzie Newsome and his top assistant Eric DeCosta have brought in some of the most talented players in all of football over the past decade. Whatever they decide to do usually works, or works at a very high percentage relative to other teams in the league.
Who do you think the Ravens will take in the first round?????