Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft Results: Predicting 2012 Position Battle Winners
Like they do every year, the Ravens had a very successful draft and will now look to implement their rookies into their roster and replace the players that have departed the team.
It's this philosophy that has kept the Ravens in the playoffs for the past four years and in the hunt most other times. A philosophy that continues to send former defensive coordinators to head coaching jobs throughout the league, and where, more often than not, Ravens free agents look for a starting role or a bigger pay day follow accordingly.
But with the success of Ozzie Newsome and his drafting ability, this year's rookies will have to compete with second, third and even fourth year players that have been patiently waiting to earn a starting role on the depth chart.
Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger
Even as the Ravens' first selection of the draft, Courtney Upshaw has a lot to prove. But then again, so does four-year veteran Paul Kruger.
Kruger developed a few new pass-rushing moves last season and was able to get to the quarterback for 5.5 sacks, despite Jarrett Johnson getting the majority of playing time at the Sam linebacker position.
If Courtney Upshaw can prove himself in run support during training camp, we could see a similar situation as last year, with Upshaw playing the Jarrett Johnson role. Although if Upshaw can also prove himself as the better pass rusher, we might not see so much of Paul Kruger, even in passing situations.
Jah Reid, Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski
Earlier this season, John Harbaugh stated that Jah Reid was able to play guard, and insinuated that the second-year tackle was the team's starting left guard for the time being.
After drafting Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski in last week's NFL Draft, it's clear that Reid will have some competition for the job.
Osemele was a college left tackle that saw time at guard during the Senior Bowl, which is where he was projected by many scouts before the draft. He could definitely push Michael Oher and even Bryant McKinnie for a starting role at tackle, but it seems more likely that he'll at least start out at guard in the NFL.
Don't count Gradkowski out of the competition either, though it seems more likely that he'll spend his rookie season providing depth and learning all he can from Matt Birk in hopes of becoming his eventual successor.
No. 3 Wide Receiver
Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams and Tommy Streeter
I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Ravens will sign some kind of veteran to fill the third-receiver spot before training camp begins, but if it's between these three guys, I think LaQuan Williams has the edge right now.
Even though Williams only had four receptions as a rookie last season, Doss saw even less playing time and had zero receptions. The tables could certainly turn this season however.
Tommy Streeter obviously has the ability to eventually fill an even larger role, but he has a lot to learn and work on first.
Back Up Running Back
Anthony Allen, Damien Berry and Bernard Pierce
The Ravens seem to be high on last year's seventh-round pick, Anthony Allen, but after trading up for Bernard Pierce in the third round, it's clear that they may not have been so confident about Allen stepping into a larger role right now.
Bernard Pierce was incredibly productive for Temple, despite some struggles with injury. If he can continue to stay healthy, there's no reason he can't be just as productive in the NFL.
Pierce should be able to win the job backing up Ray Rice in training camp and could even become the franchise's feature back if the Ravens can't get a long-term deal done with Rice in the coming season.