Ray Lewis Is Gone, but These Three Draft Prospects Can Fill His Shoes in 2013
However, general manager Ozzie Newsome will focus on rebuilding a defense that lost a good portion of its starters due to free agency or by being released.
Now the team begins the hard look toward finding the predecessor to Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Fame linebacker who finally decided to end his career on top as a champion. With linebacker becoming a pressing need, who are the three more dominating prospects in the draft who could appeal to the Ravens?
Alec Ogletree- ILB Georgia
Ogletree would clearly be an ideal fit in the Ravens' defensive scheme if he managed to still be available at the end of the first round.
The reason it's still a possibility is due to the serious questions about his overall character after run-ins with the law during his time at Georgia. He was suspended twice by the team during his three years with the team and also was arrested as recently as February due to a DUI.
However, the Ravens have never been prone to be turned away by a player's character if he can contribute. There were the same concerns about Jimmy Smith, a talented cornerback who ultimately fell late in the first round to Baltimore.
As for Ogletree's physical abilities, there also are concerns about how much effort he can put into the film room and immediately fill one of the crucial roles on the defense. Ogletree excelled with the Bulldogs based on his pure athleticism and talent, but the inside linebacker position is all about instincts.
Yet I don't envision a scenario where he wouldn't be selected.
Manti Te'o- ILB Notre Dame
Te'o has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. His involvement within the girlfriend hoax has made a dramatic effect on his career, and it needs to be monitored as he becomes a part of a professional NFL locker room.
His production on the field also appears to be a major concern, as his performance in the BCS title game was abysmal besides his overall effort in the combine.
Nonetheless, Te'o will be viewed by his overall body of work where he excelled as a leader of the Notre Dame defense. Unlike Ogletree, there isn't much doubt about Teo's instincts and his ability to anchor a defense.
His overall speed and athleticism might not compare to Ogletree, but his ability to become a quick learner of Dean Pees' defense will be essential. He can become a good piece to a defense such as the Ravens that has significantly upgraded its defensive front and could make life much easier for Te'o in his rookie season.
Jonathan Bostic- ILB Florida
Although Kevin Minter could well be on the board at pick No. 32, I am not convinced that the Ravens would deem him the best available player so early in the draft. He is more on par with Jonathan Bostic, a developing linebacker who could be a better fit because of his better overall athletic build.
Despite the athleticism, Bostic will have a learning curve as he adapts to the NFL. However, his work ethic will be beneficial if he could land with a defense such as the Ravens that has a veteran presence.
The idea of either of these prospects replacing an icon who has anchored this franchise toward two championships might not be fair. But ultimately, either of these players could have an opportunity to form their own positive legacy as they join a franchise with a championship pedigree.
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