Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ravens Draft- The First Day

If there is one thing we should know about Ozzie Newsome by now, it is that he often does not have the flashy draft or the one that everyone expects, but that he often gets the job done. All Ravens fans expected a wide receiver to be taken with the Ravens first pick, but they traded up to take an offensive tackle. It was quite the interesting first day.

The picks:
--1st Round, 23rd overall (from the Patriots): Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
--2nd Round, 57th overall, Paul Kruger, DE, Utah

The good:
Michael Oher is a wonderful story, coming from a family where his mother was a drug addict and he was at one point homeless. No one will ever question his character or his work ethic on the field because frankly he has been through tougher times. This pick was about giving Joe Flacco more protection on his line, a big 6'5'' 316 pound bulldozing lineman to protect him. Chances are he will have to play right tackle even though his natural position is at left, but Jared Gaither locks down the left side so Oher will have to switch to the other side. Paul Kruger to some is a steal at 57th, to others taken about where he should have been on the draft board. He is an athletic defensive end that has good speed, though not a lot of experience. The Ravens often like to get lineman, offensive or defensive, high on the draft board, and they got two good ones that should have an immediate impact.

The bad:
The Ravens have still not addressed their wide receiver needs. Newsome clearly was not targeting one of the bigger ones in the top-6, because the trade-up with New England was for Oher. Had the Ravens been looking for a wide receiver with the first pick, Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks were both available, and one of them would have likely fallen to 26th (in retrospect, both fell past 26th, but no telling what would have happened if picks were not traded). Plus the Ravens are not interested in Anquan Boldin right now, so it looks like the Ravens will be satisfied with the status quo unless someone gets moved.

The likely effects of the first day:
--With the drafting of Michael Oher, Willie Anderson will likely get cut soon. Anderson counts as about $4 million in salary, and the Ravens need to clear some cap room to sign draft picks. This may also lead to Trevor Pryce getting cut after the 2009 season.
--The Ravens have pretty much decided not to try for Anquan Boldin. Even if the Cardinals choose to once again lower the cost to get Boldin, the Ravens can not afford to pay him a new contract without serious issues down the line, so he will not come to Baltimore.
--A wide receiver is still a target. Players like Juaquin Iglesias from Oklahoma and Derrick Williams from Penn State are still around, and the Ravens may want to address that need with their third round pick.
--A few other targets could include a cornerback, a fullback, an outside linebacker, and a special teams returner.

The result:
Based on the picks, they are two solid players from the first day. Even though they did not address the primary needs of the team, Ozzie Newsome has shown himself to be a solid drafter, so I believe he did a nice job. They fill two positions currently occupied by veterans in their 30s and should address those positions for a good while if they pan out.

The Ravens have only four picks left in the 2009 draft, so they will need to choose wisely on the second day.

(Photo credit: Walter Football)

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