This is an offseason review I am doing for Don Delco, of No Logo Needed, which is probably the best Browns blog out there. Not like the Browns matter, or anything. So, he sent me some questions and I will provide answers to them.
AFC North Offseason Review: Baltimore Ravens
- Overall Record: 11-5 (AFC North: 4-2)
- Key Losses: LB Bart Scott, S Jim Leohnard, K Matt Stover, C Jason Brown, CB Chris McAllister, FB Lorenzo Neal
- Key Free Agent Signings: CB Dominique Foxworth, C Matt Birk, TE L.J. Smith, QB John Beck, CB Chris Carr
- Key Draft Selections: 1st Round: OT Michael Oher (Ole Miss), 2nd Round: DE Paul Kruger (Utah), 3rd Round: CB Lardarius Webb (Nicholls St.), 6th Round: RB Cedric Peerman (Virginia)
- Best Free Agent Signing and Impact: The best signing would have to be that of cornerback Dominique Foxworth. While he may not be as established as Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, Foxworth adds a young, solid talent in the secondary that can mature in the Ravens defense with emerging star Fabian Washington.
- Biggest Loss and Impact: Lorenzo Neal’s departure hasn’t been talked about as much as that of Bart Scott’s or Chris McAllister’s, but Neal was a huge reason for Joe Flacco’s success last season. Neal was an incredible pass blocker, but even better blocking in the run game. The emergence of Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice were very much due to Neal’s great blocks, and Flacco was at ease with that running success. The defense, especially the linebacking corps, always manages to replace their players very well. Bart Scott was once one of these “replacement backers”, but the offense has never been good at replacing its main contributors.
- What is your reaction to the Ravens’ draft? Has it changed since April?: The Ravens managed to pull in a draft that took the best players available in their slots, while still addressing team depth. They managed to get stud lineman Michael Oher at the #24 slot, and got FCS 2-time All-American cornerback/safety Lardarius Webb in the third. Without drafting players that were household names in college, it will take more than just a month or so to judge this draft, but as of now, it looks like a classic Ozzie Newsome success.
- Was the team’s biggest need addressed?: This question is a varying opinion among Ravens fans. Many feel that cornerback was the most pressing need, especially after losing McAllister, but the team signed Foxworth and Carr and drafted Webb to replace him. That leaves wide receiver, where the team flirted with the option of trading for Anquan Boldin, but never pulled the trigger. The only player they acquired at the position was Kelley Washington, who was added more for depth than for impact. There could still be time for the team to trade for a guy like Chad Johnson or another second-tier receiver.
- What storylines will you follow in camp?: There are multiple things to look for going into training camp this July, (1): Who the starting kicker will be. (2): Can Joe Flacco build on his success? (3): How will the team deal with the loss of 6 starters? (4): How will Greg Mattison replace Rex Ryan as defensive coordinator?