The Baltimore Ravens have offensive needs, but the defense was strengthened in the first three rounds of the draft with the exception of the tight end drafted.
In the fourth round of the draft with the 134th overall pick, the Ravens selected defensive end Brent Urban from Virginia. Again, the Ravens are taking the best available player, which can also add to the depth and the possible future of the defense.
Urban is 6-foot-7 at only 296 pounds, so he is set up to be a mobile defensive lineman who can stop the run. The reports are that he has aspects of his play to work on, which is fine, since the Ravens did not have an immediate need on the defensive line.
Urban has plenty of time to become a better player on the field, and work out staying healthy. He has had injury problems in the past, which is something the Ravens will have to keep an eye on.
He is in a great position to learn from the players around him, because he is not being pushed into a team that needs him to be a star player immediately.
Finally, in the fourth round with the 138th overall pick, the Ravens turned to an offense need and selected running back Lorenzo Taliaferro from Coastal Carolina. (Tight end Crockett Gillmore was drafted in the third round with the 99th overall pick, but TE is not a need for the Ravens with the current depth at that position.)
With legal issues looming over Ray Rice, selecting a running back seems to be a good move. Taliaferro will not move into a starting position, Bernard Pierce would take that pending a Rice suspension. Taliaferro would certainly challenge the running back free agent acquisition in Justin Forsett for the third string position.
Taliaferro is not quite like Rice as he stands at 6-foot like Pierce, while weighing in at 229 pounds. He gives the Ravens the same type of size as Pierce, who can use his size to protect QB Joe Flacco.
Adding depth at running back was said to be a focus even before the Rice issues, but this addition will certainly help in the likely scenario when Rice is suspended.
With the 175th selection in the fifth round, the Ravens finally selected an offensive lineman in Guard/Center John Urschel from Penn State.
He is probably the smartest offensive linemen in the NFL now, having a Master’s Degree in Mathematics with a final GPA of 4.0. Hopefully, he can translate that academic success to the field. According to interviews, Urschel believes his academic success will translate well.
He is only 6-foot-3 with a 33-inch arm span, so that could lead to trouble with some bigger defensive linemen; and this will be something he has to work through as his professional career moves forward.
Urschel adds another name for the Ravens to select from for the offensive line, but we might still expect a veteran signing to help the offensive line on a deeper level.
The last two signings in the sixth and seventh rounds at the 194th and 218th picks were QB Keith Wenning from Ball State and wide receiver Michael Campanaro from Wake Forest, respectively.
The quarterback and wide receiver positions are not major needs, but certainly they were drafted to add depth with each.
Tyrod Taylor is in the last year of his contract and will have to play to keep his job against Wenning. Taylor has not played as well as he could when given the chance, so he is going to be playing for his job his offseason.
I can see Campanaro being given a good chance to take a backup role as a slot receiver with his small size at 5-foot-9. The Ravens traded with the Cleveland Browns to get Campanaro, so the local River Hill HS grad caught their attention in some way.
In one analysis of Campanaro’s play I saw the name Wes Welker, and I like seeing Welker’s name in connection to a receiver. A Welker-like receiver is something the Ravens have not had on the field a good bit because of injuries.
The offense finally saw some additions through the draft, but Ozzie Newsome said multiple times he was not going to reach for an offensive linemen in the draft.
So, he must either be confident in the young guys the Ravens already have, or he is eyeing some in free agency.
Either way, Newsome has proven he knows what he is doing, so I will trust him.