Ravens Draft Forecast: Defense

FORECASTING THE DRAFT: 2013 – Defense

After celebrating the Super Bowl victory, the Ravens will get back to work. And there’s much work to be done. First will be resigning key players and getting a contact done for quarterback Joe Flacco.

 

Yearly Draft Disclaimer: “Best Player Available”

Year after year Ozzie Newsome, GM and Eric DeCosta, Assit. GM, continue to do a sensational job acquiring talent for the Ravens. Are there misses? Sometimes yes. Yet, which team don’t have picks that won’t meet their potential?  The fact is the Baltimore Ravens scouts, scouting department and as mentioned, Newsome and DeCosta do extremely well with their selections. Always ‘best player available ‘and always, patience– talent seems to fall into the later part of the first found.

 

DEFENSE STILL WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Where the Ravens will potentially lose the most talent is on the defensive side of the ball. MLB Ray Lewis has retired and Jameel McClain’s neck injury is something to consider, although his outlook looks good. There’s just not enough money to go around. The team could potentially lose OLB Paul Kruger and CB Cary Williams, MLB Ellerbe and FS Ed Reed.

GM Ozzie Newsome stated, “The middle of the defense,We think we have to get better at defensive tackle. We know that one linebacker is retiring and another one is a free agent. We have a safety that is a free agent, and some young guys that have yet to step up. So, we would say the middle of the defense is probably the one area that we will concentrate on.”

 

DRAFT SPECIFICS

Baltimore will have 7 selections and there’s going to be, as always, a chance Ozzie Newsome trades down or trade up. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Ravens drafted defense the first three rounds. In fact, reloading the defense could be the theme for this draft, especially if the Ravens don’t fill some key spots in free agency.

 

Forecasting defense: 

1. LINEBACKER 

Ray Lewis is retired and inside linebacker Jameel McClain is coming off an injury. Expect the Ravens to go after a linebacker early in the draft.  And not sure it will be Manti Teo’o, as some “experts,” suggest in their early mock drafts. Don’t think the Ravens want a player with that much mental baggage.  Although it might look like OLB Paul Kruger might be lost to free agency, the team looks committed to Dannell Ellerbe.

Prospects to watch:

Kevin Minter, ILB North Carolina

Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama

Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M

 

2. DEFENSIVE TACKLE 

Expect DT this to be a priority. Haloiti Ngata will be back and is in his prime, though has been banged up from time to time. Even when healthy, the defense still would be in need of a young player to can play along side and fill in. DT Terrence Cody played well in the 2011 season, this year (2012) however, his numbers fell off. In fact, Cody took a back seat to veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu.  Games are won and lost in the trenches, the Ravens took a step back defending the run. Having another solid defensive tackle will make the linebackers that much better.

Prospects to watch:

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern St.

 

FREE SAFETY

Ed Reed’s contract is up and he is a free agent. Can the team afford to sign him? And after time to think about his future and legacy, will Ed Reed retire?  Though Reed said he wants to come back, you just can’t assume anything with Reed. Last season the team drafted Christian Thompson, FS from South Carolina. This year, they may go a bit earlier int he draft to fill this position.  What’s nice about this draft is that there are a lot of talented free safeties.

Prospects to watch:

Eric Reid, FS, LSU

D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

Phillip Thomas, FS, Fresno State

 

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