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Dime Coverage: Ravens 2012 Draft

Coach Harbs Smiles with Upshaw, Osemele and Pierce

The draft is finally over (no more mocks) and Ravens now have a new crop of players to add to the mix.

The eight players chosen addressed a variety of needs on both sides of the ball. Of course rookies aren’t usually expected to be big contributors right away and some may not even make the active roster at all.

Let’s take a closer look at the Ravens haul.

  • I’m still trying to figure out how the Ravens selected Courtney Upshaw? This guy was expected on most boards to be a first-round  talent and dropped only due to scheme uncertainty. He’ll definitely push Paul Kruger for the starting linebacker spot vacated by Jarret Johnson this season.
  • Even after trading back out of the first round Baltimore still got a great player that can help right away. That trade with the Vikings made perfect sense once Donta Hightower was off the board too. It’s understandable that fans were upset that the Patriots beat us to the punch (again) but they had multiple number one picks and Baltimore wouldn’t not have been able to jump ahead without risking the rest of the draft class.
  • Guard/Tackle Kelechi Osemele filled a need with starting Guard Ben Grubbs departing to New Orleans but will he be able to earn the starting job in 2012? Right now it looks like Osemele, Jah Reid, and fourth rounder Gino Gradkowski will battle it out for the position. I’ve got my questions about Osemele and feel that he’s a boom or bust type prospect. Here’s hoping for the dynamite to go off sooner than later.
  • Running Back Bernard Pierce was a bit of a surprise for two reasons. One, Running Back wasn’t really identified as a need since second-year man Anthony Allen is expected to take over for the retired Ricky Williams. Two, they traded up in the draft to acquire him giving up their third and fifth round picks to Atlanta. Is he really worth it? Time will tell. I did hear that this move potentially blocked another team – Pittsburgh from taking him instead.
  • I do like the fact that Pierce is a power runner and would be a nice compliment to Ray Rice’s shifty style. As for now it looks like Pierce, Allen, and Damien Berry would be competing for the back-up role.
  • The Ravens needed a a Center. I know Matt Birk re-signed but they needed to think about the future. Gradkowski generated some positive buzz during his pre-draft visits but most boards had him as a fifth-sixth rounder. Did the Ravens reach too far here? Maybe. Gradkowski probably won’t  be ready for a few years anyway, I just wonder if Birk still has that much left in the tank until he is.
  • Christian Thompson was another small school prospect that wasn’t that highly rated on most boards. So he definately went higher than expected but since this draft was light on Safeties maybe that doesn’t matter. He’s already built a connection with Ed Reed as a mentor which can only be a good thing too.
  • Asa Jackson provides depth at Corner and may be the answer at Punt Returner.  He has excellent speed and averaged about 14 yards a return last season. I like this pick at the least because it means Lardarius Webb won’t have to be out there risking injury.
  • On paper Tommy Streeter from Miami looks like a steal in the 6th round. Of course the game is played between the white lines and I wonder if he’ll truly be ready to compete for the number # 3 spot. I’d still like to see Tandon Doss get a shot. But the size and speed combo that Streeter possesses is a rare commodity.
  • Defensive Line was a definate need area and even though late round picks are usually on the bubble DeAngelo Tyson has a shot to make the team if he can just be a run stuffer and replace the role of departed Brandon McKinney.
  • The Ravens didn’t have any glaring needs this off-season and only needed to address depth and replacing role players. Upshaw is the jewel of the draft and should be able to help immediately the rest is filled with promise for the future. If I had to grade the draft I’d give it a “B” but as we all know that grade should change after a few years.

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