2012 NFL Draft: Baltimore Ravens Work Magic Again by Selecting Courtney Upshaw

Old AccountSenior Writer IApril 27, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Linebacker Courtney Upshaw of Alabama takes part in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens, led by general manager Ozzie Newsome and director of player personnel Eric Decosta, have struck gold again in the NFL Draft with Courtney Upshaw.

Upshaw, a projected first-round pick, dropped to the 35th overall pick. Upshaw is regarded as the second best player on the Alabama defense behind safety Mark Barron, who went to the Buccaneers.

There were some questions about Upshaw's height along with his speed in pass coverage situations. However, he lands in the perfect situation in Baltimore.

Upshaw is primed to become a starter in his rookie season and replace veteran linebacker Jarret Johnson.

He has the capability of making an impact in various ways on the Ravens defense. Upshaw will replace Johnson as a run-stopping line backer, as he displays enough to speed and strength to make plays in the backfield quite often.

Upshaw will also be given the opportunity to rough the passer opposite of Terrell Suggs. He will split reps with second-year player Pernell McPhee and Paul Kruger.

The opportunity to learn from a future Hall of Famer in Ray Lewis will surely make an impact for years to come on this Ravens defense. He will certainly have a chip on his shoulder after dropping out of the first round.

From the Ravens' perspective, the strategy of trading down has proved to be successful once again. When Dont'a Hightower came off the board, it was no surprise that the Ravens would trade out of the first round.

The Ravens not only landed Upshaw in the second round, but gained a fourth-round draft pick in the process. It usually is a proven draft strategy for a team pick the highest rated player on their draft board.

Clearly, the bigger need was at the offensive guard position due to Ben Grubbs' departure. Most draft analysts had the Ravens selecting Wisconsin center/guard Peter Konz.


Matt Miselis is an NFL Featured Columnist for BleacherReport.com. He has appeared on ESPN.com, CBS Sports and other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @MattMiselisNFL