The Baltimore Ravens had 12 picks in this years NFL Draft. They had plenty of needs on both sides of the ball and 12 picks was more than enough to address some of then glaring holes that they had. They ended up trading a couple of their later picks away to move up and address some needs in the middle rounds leaving them with 10 overall picks. I think that they had one of the best drafts of any team because of all the needs that they were able to address and the quality of talent that they got for their picks. This week in The Hegel Hour I will break down each pick that the Ravens made and give my thoughts on each pick.
Round 1: PICK #32
SS MATT ELAM – FLORIDA
The Ravens lost both starting safeties this off-season. They addressed the spot left by Ed Reed by signing Michael Huff. The other safety spot was vacated when the Ravens cut Bernard Pollard in order to clear up some cap space and, as I like to speculate, clear out of troublesome player in the locker room. Pollard was one of the ring leaders of the near-coup that happened in the middle of last season, and I feel that the Ravens were just looking for a reason to cut Pollard. Concerning Matt Elam I, for the most part, like the pick. I would have really loved for the Ravens to grab John Cyprien. I like Cyprien’s size and athleticism a bit more than Elam’s. For me Elam is a bit on the small side for his position and I wonder if he will have any issues when he has to cover larger receivers or tight ends. One thing I do love about Elam is that he is not afraid to tackle or lay a big hit. He loves when receivers comes over the middle and he can frequently deliver a sizable boom for a guy his size. He can get over zealous sometimes when trying to lay the big hit. He tends to be out of position when over committing on big hits leaving the deep ball wide open when this happens. Over all I think that he is a great talent and his flaws will be coached out of him by the Ravens defensive coaching staff. This is a good place for him to land because I feel that his aggressiveness and the way he plays the game fits with the way that the Ravens like to play football. Overall I think that Elam will be a good fit for the Ravens and he should develop into a solid member of our defensive unit.
Round 2: PICK #56
ILB/OLB – ARTHUR BROWN – KANSAS ST
The Ravens thought that they had addressed a need at inside linebacker, at least somewhat, by signing Rolondo McClain when he was released by the Raiders a couple of weeks ago. Well Rolondo McClain went and get himself arrested and now his future with the team is in question. The only linebacker that they have on roster really is Jameel McClain, but he’s coming off of a pretty serious injury and his effectiveness is still in question. It wasnt really surprising then when the Ravens went out and took and inside linebacker with their second pick. When the Ravens selected Arthur Brown I was pretty excited with the pick. There were other linebackers that I was higher on in the draft and I was really hoping and praying that Alec Ogletree had fallen to the Ravens at pick #32. But Brown is a solid pick nonetheless. He isnt the biggest linebacker out there, but neither was Ray Lewis. He is really effective at disengaging from blocks and locating the ball carrier too. He plays the game fast and has a good nose for the ball. One thing I really like about brown is the versatility that he would bring to the team. He has experience playing inside and outside in college and was successful at doing both. In 2012 he had 100 tackles on the season and did pretty well in pass coverage too breaking up 4 passes. He also added one interception on the season when he picked off Geno Smith. As a value pick I really like this one because the versatility that Brown adds to the team. I also like how hard he plays the game, as I said he’s not the biggest guy out there but he plays with a tenacity and aggressiveness that makes him really fun to watch.
Round 3: PICK #94
DT BRANDON WILLIAMS – SMS
Here is a pick out of a smaller school but one that has a ton of upside. Brandon Williams will fit in well with the Ravens defensive line rotation. His stamina and aggressiveness concerns me a bit. He’s fantastic at plugging gaps and playing in the box, but outside of the box he doesnt make too many plays. He is also kind of sloppy spinning off of blocks and beating double teams, but with the crew that he has around him to help coach him up, he should get better in those areas. I think that he has a ton of potential to develop into a great player up the middle for the Ravens. His talent is a bit raw, and needs some refinement, but all-in-all I love this pick and the value he brings, especially if Terrance Cody has another bad season like last season.
Round 4: PICK #129
DE JOHN SIMON – THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
John Simon is another good value pick. He’s not a great athlete based on his combine and pro day numbers, but on tape he is a fantastic football players with great instincts. He looks like a beast too. He is very physically imposing and looks to be in phenomenal shape. He’s very aggressive and loves to fight in the trenches. I think that he would be best used in Baltimore’s base 3-4 defense as an outside pass rusher. He is an extremely aggressive player that, on passing downs, can really get after the quarterback. He is also great at sealing the edge and will help against the run. The guys on the NFL network kept bringing up that Mike Vrabel was pushing this guy to teams really hard because he felt that he could develop into a great talent. If we can assume to trust Mike Vrabel’s judgement this pick makes me very excited based on that alone.
Round 4: PICK # 130
FB KYLE JUSZCZYK – HARVARD
Easily the best fullback in the draft. He will probably not see much playing time this season but he is an aggressive player that can be used well in certain packages. His big-play ability is really limited but, like most players from Harvard, he’s tough-nosed and plays with a lot of aggression and passion. He is a great lead blocker as well as chip blocking and getting off into the flats to make a play out there. This may look like an odd pick because the Ravens have the best fullback in the league, however Juszczyk adds a bit more to versatility. I could see him working his way into heavy tight end packages down on the goal line and coming off the edge to catch the ball. He has pretty decent hands for his position and could be used in a lot of interesting ways on offense for the Ravens.
Round 5: PICK #168
G RICKY WAGNER – WISCONSIN
Ricky Wagner is your prototypical Wisconsin offensive linemen. He’s a big, strong, body that is good at latching onto pass rushers and anchoring down to protect the QB. He doesnt really help the Ravens at their left tackle position and the Ravens most likely will end up playing Michael Oher at LT to start the season even though they would love to keep him at RT. I see Wagner starting off somewhere on the inside. Depending how he develops in training camps he could backup inside, possibly play center depending on if his agility can improve. This move honestly is probably Ozzy taking the best value at where they were at. They also address a slight need here too, but I think this is just a depth move. Unless he drastically improves between now and the start of the regular season, I wouldnt expect this guy to jump right in to any starting position.If he had come out of college last season I think Wagner would have been a second or third round pick. He had a down year for his last year in college as a senior, so he drops to round 5. I think that if he can bring his game up to the level that he played with two years ago we could have a pretty good steal here in round 5.
Round 6: PICK#200
DE KAPRON LEWIS-MOORE – NOTRE DAME
Kinda surprised to still see him around at this point. He did suffer a pretty nasty knee injury during the BCS Championship Game, but he is a good athlete and has a lot of upside if he can come back from his knee injury. I think we got a really great value pick here. If he comes back healthy and can play to the ability that he did in college Lewis-Moore could be the steal of this years draft. He has great hands and can disengage from blocks well. He makes plays in the backfield and is pretty good against the run. We’ll have to pay special attention to how his rehab is going and see if he can be the player that he has the potential to be. If he ends up making the team he could be a guy that we shift around to play different positions on the defensive line. He could very well earn himself a spot in the Ravens d-line rotation and be effective.
Round 6: PICK #203
G RYAN JENSEN – COLORADO STATE – PUEBLO
Yet another depth pick. Some people have him listed as a center. He played tackle in college, but the Ravens drafted him with the intention for him to play guard. He has a tenacity about him that I like. He’s scrappy and plays his position aggressively. I think given the right coaching he could potentially work his way up to a starting guard position in the NFL, possibly even center and he could fill the vacancy that Matt Birk left behind. Birk was another 6th round pick brought in to play center. Who knows? maybe Jensen is another Matt Birk in waiting.
Round 7: PICK#238
WR AARON MELLETTE – ELON
I have mixed feelings about Mellette. Going to be honest, I didnt know much about him when the Ravens took him, but I did a bit of video watching and he should provide good value for where we took him. He has a chance to make the team but in order to do so I think that he has to work on his fundamentals a bit. I like his size and his route running. He doesnt run the cleanest routes, but good coaching can polish those up just fine. He has pretty decent hands, but one thing that I noticed about him on tape is that he likes to let the ball come to his body a bit too much for my liking. If he can clean that up and catch with his hands instead of his body I could see him becoming a pretty decent receiver. He also doesnt seem to have the top-end speed that most receivers have, but that should be okay. I’m one of those people that feel that you dont have to be a receiver that blows everyone away with your speed. As long as you can run clean routes and catch the ball, you should be able to make a good career for yourself.
Round 7: PICK #247
CB MARC ANTHONY – CALIFORNIA
The Ravens last pick is a corner back. I like the pick as one that fills somewhat of a need at CB. Anthony has good speed and hips but, from what I see on tape, he lacks the ideal closing ability of an outside corner back. If he makes the team we could use him in some of our sub/nickel/dollar packages and perhaps he could develop into a pretty steady defensive back.
As I stated earlier, I think the Ravens had one of the best drafts this season. It has become something to be expected with Ozzie Newsome as the general manager of the team. He consistently gets the best bang for our buck year in and year out in the draft and I really feel that this group of guys could develop into some pretty solid players. I do think we should have been a little more aggressive and gotten a receiver earlier on in the draft. I would have been perfectly fine giving away a few of our other late round picks in a package to go up and get a top-end receiver like Keenan Allen. Despite that I still think that we had a fantastic draft and I’m excited to see how some of these guys develop. Hopefully some of them can come in and make an immediate impact. I expect a few of them to earn starting spots on the roster next season, while some of them might take a bit longer to work their way up to a starting position.