A Super Bowl title followed by a huge contract for their signal caller then the loss of two All Pro veterans capped a busy post season for the Baltimore Ravens. The defections of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis created voids on defense for the league’s top franchise and they hoped to plug those holes in the draft.
Matt Elam/S/Florida (Round 1, pick #32): With the departure of Ed Reed via free agency, Baltimore was in need of a complete safety who could defend the run and cover the pass. Enter Matt Elam. The former Gator comes to the Ravens with a complete game which parallels the player he’ll replace. Elam is a fierce run defender with the cover skills necessary to man centerfield or play over the slot receiver. He did not show the same playmaking ability Reed did in college but don’t be fooled, Elam comes with an NFL ready game.
Arthur Brown/LB/Kansas State (Round 2, pick #56): I raised a few eyebrows prior to the draft when I compared Arthur Brown to future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. So it was fitting the Ravens selected the Kansas State prospect to replace the retiring Lewis. My comparison was based on equal points in their career; Lewis when he entered the league in 1996 compared to Brown today. Both were slightly undersized yet explosive three down defenders who attacked the action sideline-to-sideline. There’s no doubt in my mind Brown was the most underrated linebacker in the draft. Will he be the next Ray Lewis? That’s a tall order but I’m sure the Ravens made the right choice of players to replace Lewis.
Brandon Williams/NT/Missouri Southern (Round 3, pick #94): Since the departure of Kelly Gregg in 2011, Baltimore has struggled to find consistency at the nose tackle position. Terrence Cody, the teams second round pick in 2010, has failed to meet expectations and lost his starting job for a time last season. Williams brings competition, intensity and talent to the position for the Ravens. He offers an NFL body and competed well during January’s Senior Bowl. The learning curve for Williams could be steep but Baltimore may harvest a future starter from a small school out of round three.
John Simon/OLB/Ohio State (Round 4, pick #129): Simon was a terrific college player who was not blessed with great measurables. The playmaking defensive end at Ohio State projects to outside linebacker for the Ravens and could turn out to be great value with the 129th pick. Consider Terrell Suggs is over the age of 30 while free agent Elvis Dumervil will be 30 next January. Simon will be a tremendous rotational defender for Baltimore and could take over the starting reigns down the road.
Kyle Juszczyk/FB/Harvard (Round 4, pick #130): With only one fullback on the roster Juszczyk made total sense for Baltimore at the end of the fourth frame. The college tight end brings a versatile game and will be a great addition for the Ravens offense on third down as a pass protector, run blocker or pass catcher out of the backfield.
Ricky Wagner/T/Wisconsin (Round 5, pick #168): Wagner was solid value in the fifth frame for Baltimore. He’ll offer the team options as a back-up at guard and tackle. With the Ravens reaching a two-year deal with 33 year old Bryant McKinnie just days ago, Wagner will have the opportunity to compete for a starting job in a few seasons.
Kapron Lewis-Moore/DE/Notre Dame (Round 6, pick #200): Lewis-Moore was an unusual pick but considering Baltimore does not need immediate help at defensive end, its understandable. The talented prospect has struggled with knee injuries throughout his college career, most recently suffering an ACL tear to his right knee during the January 8th BCS title game. The Ravens are likely to start Lewis-Moore on the PUP list then see where the situation goes from there.
Ryan Jenson/OL/CS-Pueblo (Round 6, pick #203): Jenson was a favorite of ours and we’re glad to see he was selected. The underrated small school tackle possesses the athleticism and skill to play in the NFL. He lacks the size to stay at left tackle but offers Baltimore a developmental prospect at either center or guard.
Aaron Mellette/WR/Elon (Round 7, pick #238): In the past Baltimore used multiple early picks at the receiver position yet have little to show for it. They may have hit big with Mellette in round seven. The ultra-productive, small school pass catcher proved he could play against elite talent at the Senior Bowl and his receiving skills are without question. Expect Mellette to make the Ravens roster as their fourth receiver.
Marc Anthony/CB/Cal (Round 7, pick #247): Poor forty times pushed Anthony into the final rounds yet on film he possesses next level ball skills. He must be protected on the field but looking at the depth chart for the Ravens makes one believe there’s room available on their roster for the 247th pick.
Grade: A. To use a term- wow! Not only did the Ravens fill needs and get value in the early going, they also added depth and potential future starters on the final day. On paper this draft is indicative of why Baltimore is competitive each year; they added quality players who will replace veterans, they added talented prospects who will compete for playing time and they added prospects who could develop into starters down the road. Once again- wow.