Gaining an edge.

Gaining an edge.

It becomes tedious to continually repeat…year in and year out the Baltimore Ravens are one of the most consistent and best drafting teams in the National Football League. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has honed his craft and applied his management skills as well as any other figurehead at his level. As a result the Ravens rarely suffer through “down” years and continually retool for the future successfully. The 2010 draft class is no different than those which have proceeded.

Assumptions flew about that the team was targeting freefalling Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant with their initial selection, which was twenty fifth overall. If this was truly the case, team brass must be applauded for not panicking and subsequently manipulating the draft to their eventual liking. Trading out of the opening round completely, Baltimore did not make their initial selection until the forty third overall pick. This pick eventually became Texas hybrid Sergio Kindle. Many can look back to last August and early September seeing the Longhorn’s edge rusher as a potential top ten overall selection. While his talent never wavered, concerns were raised about a couple off the field incidents and a potential knee issue. Thus, he was still available early in the second round. Kindle himself is lightning quick off the edge and possesses some of the most violent striking hands in the draft. Where he struggled is using counter moves in his pass rush and showing a comfortability dropping back in coverage. Plus, his production slightly dipped without a true bookend presence opposite. Much is the case of the Ravens and their defensive drop off in recent years after Adalius Thomas left via free agency. Terrell Suggs has gone from averaging ten sacks per season through his first four campaigns to a measly five sacks per season over the last three. Kindle’s athletic skill set should compliment both Suggs and Jarrett Johnson quite well as he transitions to the next level.

A potential nightmare of a pairing was obtained when Terrence “Mount” Cody became the team’s next choice. Adding Cody’s (now) 354 pounds of girth next to the immovable object and new teammate that is Haloti Ngata will keep offensive coordinators up at nights. The duo hearkens back to the team’s one and only Super Bowl run when the names of Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams clogged the middle. Cody is clearly a two down defender and the epitome of a zero technique in the team’s 34 base front. His overall quickness and agility is actually impressive from A gap to A gap. Aside his potential weight issues, Cody’s hand play was underwhelming. Against collegiate blockers, this is much easier to overlook. Against professional offensive linemen, the man mountain must improve his striking while controlling those in front of him to truly patrol the middle of the line of scrimmage. His improved conditioning in an NFL weight room should also improve his stamina and lack of flexibility in his hips. There is a lot of like of Terrence Cody in this particular situation. There are obviously also concerns of which many will flock if he is not successful immediately.

In both the third and fourth rounds, Baltimore pressed to improve a position which has been inconsistent in recent years…tight end. Both Oregon’s Ed Dickson and Brigham Young’s Dennis Pitta were chosen. Two prospects chosen by the same team at the same position, which generally fall on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Dickson is rather athletic, threatening the seam, yet at times an underachieving target. Whereas, Pitta has always been very clean, polished, reliable, highly productive, yet has trouble separating because of an overall lack to top end physical skills. Both add more targets to a passing game which has improved dramatically throughout this off season after finishing in the bottom half of the league a year ago. Young quarterback Joe Flacco will be grateful to have so many targets now patrolling the middle of the field with the likes of veteran Todd Heap, Dickson, and Pitta.

Later in round five both wide receiver David Reed and defensive tackle Arthur Jones were added. The Syracuse lineman in particular could provide solid value. Jones entered the season carrying a high grade. He then suffered a season ending knee surgery. Jones has the ability to be both disruptive and take on blockers when asked. Two key defensive ends in Baltimore’s rotation were lured away in free agency thus opening an opportunity for playing time. Former Utah wide receiver Reed provides another steady presence adding quality young talent to a position which has been severely upgraded since the 2009 season came to a close. Reed will compete to make the roster, but his smooth route running and general reliability could land him above the likes of Justin Harper, Eron Riley, Marcus Smith, and Chris Hannon whom are all on the roster currently.

Rounding out the long weekend’s work was the team’s last addition in the sixth round acquiring the absolutely mammoth (6-feet-6-inches and 340 pounds) offensive lineman Ramon Harewood, formerly of Morehouse. A familiar story recently, Harewood blossomed late taking up the sport only four years ago. The Barbados native will look to develop along one of the best up and coming units in the league.

Grade: B

— Always steady, always finding value. The Baltimore Ravens did what the Baltimore Ravens do. Upside in this draft could potentially be tremendous if Sergio Kindle plays to his talent levels, and Terrence Cody keeps his weight in check. The value of both was definitely worth the risk at the time of their choosing. Kindle, in fact, was rated as a late first round by this very site. The strong locker room presence in Baltimore always helps to make up for a multitude of sins in either case. Later picks were mostly along the lines of where they expected to go, yet early contributors could be seen in the likes of the tight ends and Arthur Jones in particular. As the Baltimore Ravens prepare to retake the AFC North divisional title, this draft class only adds more talented building blocks to help them ascend the mountain.