Part 24 of a 32 part series, a running back position analysis of each franchise. The Baltimore Ravens had an injury-plagued 5-11 season in 2007. People have called for the removal of Brian Billick on more than one occasion. Team owner Steve Bisciotti has resisted this move for years but upon watching last season the owner finally felt that it was time for Brian Billick to go and was fired. The Ravens hired Eagles assistant John Harbaugh to replace Billick after Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett turned them down. There is a lot of talent on hand, especially on defense to engineer a quick turnaround but several holes to fill on offense. The Ravens’ still possess one of the leagues most aggressive defenses. This multi-dimensional unit can play a 3-4, 4-3 or a “46” defensive front well and disrupt whatever you’re trying to do offensively. There’s no clear-cut No. 1 quarterback. Offensively, the Ravens’ became very predictable due to the QB challenges and the lack of field stretching speed. Neither of the two are quick fixes. This is what you would call added pressure on the personnel department that hasn’t drafted a Pro Bowl player in the past five seasons. Going into free agency & the draft the Ravens’ needs are QB, CB, OT, LB, DE. The Ravens’ as a team rushed for 112 yards per game.
· Willis McGahee: 6’ 0” 223 lbs, 294 Att, 1,207 Yards, 4.1 YPC Avg, 7 TD’s
· Musa Smith: 6’ 0” 232 lbs, 75 Att, 264 Yards, 3.5 YPC Avg, 2 TD’s
· Mike Anderson: 6’ 0” 230lbs, 15 Att, 62 Yards, 4.1 YPC Avg.
· Corey Ross: 5’ 6” 201 lbs, 12 Att, 72 Yards, 6.0 YPC Avg. 1 TD
The Ravens’ improved their running game by trading for Willis McGahee. Despite very lackluster quarterback play, McGahee still made an impact on offense even though teams showed no respect to the Ravens’ passing game. McGahee displayed the ability to pound the ball between the tackles; he also had enough speed to hit the edges. Musa Smith is an adequate third-down back but would have to be considered a disappointment. In defense of Musa Smith he has had five injury-plagued years with the team and is currently and unrestricted free agent in search of new employment. The Ravens’ are also for some reason staying away from using Mike Anderson. The Ravens’ don’t have a need to draft a running back. However, if the team chooses not to re-sign Musa Smith then a running back will need to be selected as a middle, late round pick or as an undrafted free agent. There are two free agent QB names out there that the Ravens’ will have to take a look at are Chris Simms & Byron Leftwich. The Ravens’ are in need of guys that can contribute immediately. The Ravens have received 4 compensatory picks in the 2008 draft. In the draft, if Matt Ryan slides to the Ravens at pick #8 they will draft him. There is also the matter of Left Tackle with Jonathan Ogden’s expected retirement. Youth at the Linebacker position isn’t a huge need but Ray Lewis is nearing the end of his career so bringing in Erin Henderson would be an excellent move.
The question for the Ravens: In the 1st round do the Ravens’ address QB or CB with the #8 selection? If not one of the two needs mentioned above, will the Ravens’ trade up to ensure a shot at Matt Ryan?