NFL Draft Recap: Ranking the 5 Best Players Selected by the Baltimore Ravens
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The Baltimore Ravens drafted 10 players this past weekend, filling various positions with talent they hope will be around for years to come. While players taken in the earlier rounds are perceived to be the best pickups for a team, there is something to be said for the value of the late-round picks as well.
With so many players being drafted by Baltimore last weekend, here is a list of the top five prospects the Ravens acquired.
5. Aaron Mellette: Wide Receiver
The Ravens selected Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette in the seventh round of the draft.
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Heading into the draft, it appeared pretty likely that the Ravens would get a wide receiver early on. But as one round after another passed by, Baltimore had yet to add depth to the wide receiver position. The Ravens did not let the entire draft go by without picking a wideout however, selecting Elon superstar Aaron Mellette with the 238th overall pick.
Mellette mostly played against lower-level talent in the FCS during his time at Elon, but regardless, he excelled against the competition he faced.
He posted a stellar senior season in 2012, finishing with 97 receptions for 1,408 yards and 18 touchdowns. At the end of his career, the young receiver finished with 304 catches for 4,264 yards and 44 touchdowns.
No, Mellette likely won't see much playing time with the Ravens as a rookie. But with a young and inexperienced group of receivers in Baltimore, he could find his way into the mix.
4. Ricky Wagner: Offensive Lineman
Offensive lineman Ricky Wagner was drafted by the Ravens in the fifth round.
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Offensive lineman Ricky Wagner may be the best value player for the Ravens as it stands right now. Why would this be? The main reason is because Baltimore is in need of a left tackle to replace free-agent Bryant McKinnine. Given that Wagner was the first lineman drafted by the Ravens in 2013, he could find himself as Baltimore's left tackle by Week 1.
Wagner was a solid lineman for the Wisconsin Badgers, playing in 27 straight games and spending time at both left tackle and right tackle. Given his durability and versatility, Wagner appears to be a solid pick for the Ravens heading into training camp.
3. Kyle Juszczyk: Fullback/Tight End
The Ravens selected fullback/tight end Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round.
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The Ravens made a surprising pick in the fourth round when they drafted Harvard fullback/tight end Kyle Juszczyk. While Baltimore was expected to bolster their offense in this draft, a fullback was pretty unexpected. With that said, Juszczyk could prove to be a good contributor for the Ravens in the 2013 season.
He was a stellar pass-catcher for the Crimson during his time at Harvard. In his last two seasons, he accumulated a total of 89 catches for 1,218 yards and 15 touchdowns. He didn't pose any kind of rushing threat during his college days however, getting only three carries for 19 yards during his four years in school. Given his lack of carries, he does not appear to be another option in Baltimore's running game.
Aside from Ray Rice, Juszczyk may be the next closest thing to an x-factor Baltimore has in 2013. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield and come off the line as a tight end make him a nice option in the Ravens' receiving game. It will be interesting to see how Juszczyk performs in the months leading up to the start of the season.
2. Arthur Brown: Inside Linebacker
The Ravens traded two picks to move up in the second round to draft linebacker Arthur Brown.
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Linebacker Arthur Brown was a tackling machine for the Kansas State Wildcats during his junior and senior year, posting consecutive seasons of 100 or more tackles. Brown may find himself filling one of Baltimore's biggest needs this season at middle linebacker when the season begins.
Baltimore liked Brown so much that they traded away two picks to move up and select the young linebacker.
Despite the Ravens signing middle linebacker Rolando McClain, there is no reason to think that Brown can't be the Week 1 starter. McClain is already running on borrowed time with the Ravens after signing a one-year deal, and his recent arrest could make him even less of a favorite to win a starting job heading into training camp.
Look for Brown to make a run for the inside linebacker position this season and become a key contributor to Baltimore's defense.
1. Matt Elam: Safety
Baltimore selected Florida safety Matt Elam with their first-round pick.
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Elam is an obvious choice for the Ravens' top draft pick on this list. Yes, he was their first-round pick, but he is also a virtual lock to start Week 1, something that can't be said of many other players selected by Baltimore this year.
Elam will likely fill the void at strong safety left by Bernard Pollard. If his highlight videos are any indication, he should fill his predecessor's shoes quite nicely, possessing that hard-hitting ability that made Pollard one of the best run-stopping safeties in the league.
He racked up 76 tackles for the Florida Gators last season, showing great ability to get off blocks and wrap up the ball-carrier. One way that Elam could prove to be an even better defender than Pollard is with his passing defense.
The young safety saw time at both free safety and strong safety during his college career. He finished his career with six interceptions, including four that he hauled int last season. Given that safety Ed Reed is now with the Houston Texans, Baltimore will need all the pass-coverage players they can find at the safety position.
Elam looks to be a strong candidate for the Ravens at safety heading into Week 1 of the season, and should be a solid contributor for years to come.