Baltimore Ravens 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web
Even though we’re done with the 2014 NFL draft, that doesn’t mean that the period of hyperanalysis is over. Now, instead of mock drafts, we get draft grades, so let’s take a look at how general manager Ozzie Newsome fared in the eyes of reputed draftniks from around the Web.
From ESPN to Sports Illustrated to Bleacher Report, I’ve compiled a list of grades for the Baltimore Ravens’ 2014 draft class with some analysis of my own to evaluate the graders.
The big takeaway here is that, while he didn’t address many immediate needs, Newsome accumulated a number of talented players, as evidenced by his solid GPA on these report cards.
Let’s dig into each analyst’s reasoning for the grades.
Sports Illustrated (Chris Burke): A-
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated was very impressed with what Newsome did this year, and he gave the Ravens a nice A-minus. As we’ll see with the rest of the grades, there is generally not a lot to dislike about the players Newsome drafted based on their talent and skill—as Burke wrote:
From a strict talent-and-value perspective, the Ravens may have done as well as any other team in the draft. LB C.J. Mosley, if he’s healthy, could be a Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner; DT Timmy Jernigan had mid-Round 1 potential, only to fall to pick 48; safety Terrence Brooks may be an instant starter.
Baltimore also landed some of the better role players available, like TE Crockett Gillmore and underrated QB Keith Wenning. The lone knock here comes from Baltimore’s inability to really address its offensive line.
It’s the aspect of addressing needs that Newsome didn’t do very well in, but that should hardly be a surprise considering how strongly he believes in drafting the best player available. Newsome trusts his ability to find a starting right tackle (Eric Winston, perhaps?) on the market, so he shored up other positions—once again focusing his early picks on upgrading the middle of the defense.
CBS Sports (Rob Rang): B+
CBS Sports’ Rob Rang wasn’t as impressed with Newsome’s haul as Chris Burke, but he was still very complimentary of the solid additions:
C.J. Mosley offers the instincts, athleticism and physicality and instantly upgrades the defense. Defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan and Brent Urban are tough run-stuffers with upside and safety Terrence Brooks could be the center-fielder to complement last year's first round in-the-box hitter Matt Elam.
I also like the upside of TE Crockett Gillmore and RB Lorenzo Taliaferro. Don’t be surprised if WR Michael Campanaro makes this club as a slot receiver.
Considering the depth of this class, we shouldn’t be surprised that every player—except for maybe John Urschel—has the chance to contribute this season as at least a rotational player.
The front seven was an under-the-radar need, and Newsome addressed it with three very talented young players.
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.): B
Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN is the original draftnik, and he broke down the class very well (Insider subscription required):
The Ravens put together another solid draft, with one notable question. They got some really good players who will contribute immediately, and peppered in some high-upside picks that could make this draft look outstanding down the road.
I didn’t have linebacker as a big need, but the front office probably found it hard to pass on the best inside linebacker in the draft, and they pulled the trigger on C.J. Mosley. The Ravens also got another potential immediate starter in the third round when they drafted Terrence Brooks.
The upside is along the defensive line. Timmy Jernigan could be a really good player if he plays to the best of his tape—he was an impact player for the ‘Noles. Brent Urban is a really intriguing 3-4 defensive end prospect, with great length and good quickness at nearly 6’7”.
My question would be whether they got enough in the passing game. Crockett Gillmore is the hope there, a big target with a wide catch-radius who can stretch the seam.
Preparing for this draft, all the analysts had a certain idea of the Ravens’ biggest needs—such as right tackle, cornerback and wide receiver. The Ravens didn’t address two of them and waited until Round 7 to add a wideout.
We always knew the Ravens believed in the best-player-available strategy, but their disregard for some glaring needs serves as a strong (and somewhat startling) reminder of that fact.
CBS Sports (Pete Prisco): B
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports was also impressed that Baltimore managed to pick up “a lot of quality players.”
He specifically liked the value of selecting Timmy Jernigan and Crockett Gillmore—for different reasons. Jernigan was originally considered to be a first-round talent before a diluted sample at the NFL Scouting Combine apparently caused him to fall until the middle of the second round.
Gillmore, on the other hand, was a largely unknown commodity before he opened plenty of eyes at the East-West Shrine Game and then the Senior Bowl.
The development of those two players—specifically whether they eventually deliver on their massive upside—will determine the success of this draft class when we re-evaluate it in the next five years.
Shehan Peiris is B/R's Lead Featured Columnist covering the Baltimore Ravens and a co-host of Ravens Central Radio, a weekly podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network that focuses on all things Ravens-related. For the latest Ravens news, draft analysis and links to episodes of Ravens Central Radio, follow me on Twitter:
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