It is that season of the year where sports writers and football enthusiasts go through exceedingly complicated exercises of mock drafts and analyses – all with an effort to anticipate what college talent will land in which NFL city. The actual draft will occur on May 8-10 at Radio City in New York.
Here on the FanSided Network we are having our own mock draft within the locals division, of which The Baltimore Wire is the newest site, covering Ravens, Orioles, Terps, and other Maryland sports happenings. (The network has sites for all teams individually; and in our case it is Ebony Bird for the Baltimore Ravens.) This mock draft is already underway, and in a day or two our turn will arrive and we will make our pick – including an article about it. (One of our writers – Nate Wardle, who will mostly opine on Orioles news – is a Dolphins fan and will represent that franchise in our mock draft.)
To whet our appetite a bit for this, I thought I would today just respond briefly to the picks for the Ravens being made in mock drafts and articles on the popular Bleacher Report sports network. We’ll look at three articles there.
But first, to inform our evaluation, let us be reminded as to what Ozzie Newsome said yesterday about priorities. He seemed to tip his hand to three items in the following order:
1. “We’ve got to get bigger in the interior of our offensive line.”
2. “We need to be able to get a receiver – whether it’s a tight end or a wide receiver – that can make a third-and-7, third-and-8 catch and run some after the catch.”
3. “I think we need to have a more athletic safety in the defense.”
To the articles ………….
Article 1 – The first of the Bleacher Report articles is by Dan Hope and can be seen HERE. Understand that this is not an article of prediction as to what will happen, but is rather a statement of the largest need for each team, and how that could be addressed in the draft in a perfect world.
The writer identifies the offensive center as the greatest need for Baltimore. There is no doubt that this is an issue for the Ravens after the retirement of two-time all-pro Matt Birk. It is generally understood that Gino Gradkowski did not live up to hopes as the Ravens’ center this season – not opening the holes for an effective running game.
At the top of the collegiate centers on most lists is Travis Swanson of Arkansas. At 6-5 and 315, he is said to have the skills to facilitate an inside running game while anchoring the center of a line. The writer says the Ravens would be good to be able to pick him up in the second round.
Article 2 – The second Bleacher Report article (from two days ago) is by writer Donald Wood and can be found HERE. He goes right after what is probably the most commonly-believed need by Ravens fans – the position of right offensive tackle.
It was clear to everyone that Joe Flacco did not have the time in the pocket this year to be effective (for more on this subject, see my article posted yesterday by clicking the “previous” button twice). So this BR writer projects the Ravens picking up Cameron Erving of Florida State.
Erving is on the short list of the top tackles in the country. Jake Matthews of Texas A&M is regarded as far and away the best of the crop. He is not at all likely to be available for the #16 spot of the Ravens. Erving might be… that is, if he were in the draft. But this news came out just today with this statement by Erving:
“We have something really special going on here at Florida State. Of course, I want to be a part of that. I want to mature and grow as a player before I make that big step to the NFL. I enjoy playing for Coach Fisher and I love the support of our fans. This decision is the best for myself and my family. I’m coming back to school to finish my degree, to improve as a player and lead the Seminoles to another successful season during my last year of college football.”
The Ravens may well choose to use their top draft pick for a position other than offensive tackle and look to last year’s #5 pick Ricky Wagner of Wisconsin to play this position. Michael Oher will not be there; that much is reasonably certain.
The Ravens are pleased with Torrey Smith for sure and would certainly like to be able to bring back Jacoby Jones. But again, the need is there for a catch and run guy – hopefully to work in tandem with Dennis Pitta, who will hopefully also be returned. At 6’5” and 225 pounds, Evans is an imposing wide receiver. He is larger than most cornerbacks, knows how to use his size to advantage, and creates matchup problems wherever he goes.
Conclusion – If available at pick 16, taking Evans may make sense. And if Swanson could be gotten in round two, that would be great. But does this do enough to address the offensive line? Probably not by itself. And along with the internal matter of retaining Eugene Monroe, the Ravens will likely have to find an interior lineman through free agency.
(Dear Reader: At this moment, you are my top draft pick … so … like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter – @BaltimoreWireFS – and repost this article on Facebook for other Ravens fans to see. Welcome to the team!)