Louisville Cardinals defensive back Calvin Pryor runs the 40 yard dash during the 2014 NFL Combine, Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mock drafts identify many of the same players over and over who might be taken by the Baltimore Ravens, including Zack Martin, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Taylor Lewan, and Calvin Pryor.
We are still a couple of weeks away from the draft on May 8-10. The next big thing coming over the horizon is the release of the 2014 NFL schedule – which should happen tomorrow or Thursday at the latest. That will give us something else to talk about until this most interesting draft FINALLY gets here! It is later this year, and that has annoyed a lot of folks, and maybe rightly so … and for an interesting read on that subject, check out this short article on The Sporting News.
Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is particularly adept at performing well in drafts, and if you look back through our Ravens section here on The Baltimore Wire you can see a number of articles that have evaluated drafts of recent years. But Ravens fans are again excited about this year, and the abundance of predictions are interesting, even as they are confusing.
How does one evaluate the evaluators and prognosticators who write with authority in their mock drafts about what the Ravens will surely do? Fans may have varied opinions about the opinionated writers, but one angle that at least adds an element of objective measurement about the most prominent football writers is to see what those who got it correct in 2013 say about what the Ravens will do in 2014.
Matt Elam was the #1 selection of the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, so who among the top writers nailed it? Let’s pull out two who predicted correctly a year ago – Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network and Todd McShay of ESPN.
Daniel Jeremiah Mock Draft Pick #17 – Calvin Pryor – Free Safety, Louisville
Jeremiah is a former Ravens scout and he wrote last year in his prediction, “Elam might lack ideal size, but he’s an instinctive and explosive football player … Elam seems like their type of defender.”
This year, in his last mock draft on April 9, Jeremiah is going back to the safety position as the predicted top selection for 2014, saying, “The Ravens could look at the receiver position here, but safety is a higher priority.” Relative to the other most-linked college players, he has Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at #13 to the Rams, Zack Martin to the Dolphins at #19, and Taylor Lewan at #10 to the Lions.
Todd McShay Mock Draft Pick #17 – Zack Martin – Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame
In his last draft on April 14th, McShay turns this year to the most obviously pressing need recognized by most Baltimore Ravens fans – offensive tackle. He writes:
“Tight end and linebacker are also need positions, but with TE Eric Ebron and LB C.J. Mosley off the board, I have the Ravens addressing their need at right tackle in this scenario. I actually like (UVA tackle) Morgan Moses’ potential more than Martin’s, but Martin should be a good starter at right tackle and in a worst-case scenario can be kicked inside to guard. The Ravens could also be looking to add size in the secondary (Lardarius Webb and Matt Elam are both shorter defensive backs), so free safety and cornerback are Day 2 possibilities for them.”
Relative to other oft-mentioned possible Ravens picks, he has Ha Ha Clinton-Dix going to the Lions at #10, Taylor Lewan (OT of Michigan) at #12 to the Giants, and Calvin Pryor at #20 to the Arizona Cardinals.
(Honorable Mention) Peter King of SI.com
In 2013, King predicted linebacker Arthur Brown of Kansas State. Of course, the Ravens did get Brown at the 56th overall pick, moving up six slots to be assured of securing him.
This year he takes a third route from the two discussed above and goes with OT Taylor Lewan of Michigan. He writes:
“With both consensus first-round safeties already selected (Clinton-Dix and Pryor), the Ravens would rebound nicely by finding Lewan still available. He’d shore up the right offensive tackle slot that Michael Oher vacated and help Baltimore get back to running the ball consistently in the rough and tumble AFC North. If Lewan and the safeties are all gone, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley makes sense as a mid-round pick with proven playmaking ability.”
He also has Clinton-Dix at #10 to Detroit, Pryor at #14 to Chicago, and Zach Martin at #19 to Miami.
Offseason Weekly Update
I did not do a whole piece as a weekly update for this past week, as there was not much news and I only had two items upon which to comment.
1. Rolando McClain – In or Out?
Out … at least for today, though probably for good. This former first-round pick of the Raiders seems like a young man who has sadly lost his way, though his verbiage sounds like he has found it anew in his faith, etc. I don’t know. It looks like a lot of unused talent, and as a father to a son I would have much to say to him about that, but, he appears to be fading off the NFL scene … there he goes … gone.
2. Contract Extension for Jimmy Smith
As a writer who only this past season began to watch the Baltimore Ravens with a critical eye, Jimmy Smith was the first player to catch it – negatively. He was terrible in the first game of the season against Denver and seemed to always have his momentum taking him one way, whereas the receiver or runner was going the other way into open territory. But he reversed that level of play and was among the best and most effective of Ravens defenders in 2013.
This past year was his third season and was one where he earned a starting position after struggling in his first two seasons to get it all put together. That time has come, and picking up the fifth year option on his rookie contract was clearly the thing to do. So the Ravens will have him for at least the next two seasons.