Power Ranking Baltimore Ravens' 5 Best Moves of 2014 Offseason
That may or may not have been a bad thing, though, given the Ravens' offensive struggles. There were several other notable departures and additions made.
With a lot of need for change, the Ravens did their best to bring in players and coaches that fit their needs. The Ravens hope after falling to 8-8 last year, those additions will help them get back to their winning ways in 2014.
Here are the power rankings for Baltimore's offseason moves.
5. Drafting DL Timmy Jernigan
The Ravens quickly upgraded their defensive line by selecting defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan out of Florida State with the 48th overall pick.
After letting Arthur Jones, one of their best lineman, leave in free agency, the Ravens did a great job of filling that vacancy with Jernigan
The 6'2", 300-pound nose tackle has notched 108 tackles (19 for a loss) and six sacks over the past two seasons. Jernigan was a pivotal player for the BCS champion Seminoles, and he should get immediate playing time as a rookie.
During OTAs, Jernigan impressed veteran Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele, per BaltimoreRavens.com:
He’s flashing a lot. He’s playing fast, especially for being a young guy and being thrown in there with the ones every now and then. He’s really coming along really well. We really need him to contribute this year and I think he has the ability to do that.
Jernigan figures to be a significant contributor on this defense as a rookie, and he could possibly start at some point in 2014.
4. Signing WR Steve Smith
In 13 seasons with the Panthers, Smith had 836 receptions for 12,197 yards and 75 touchdowns. Smith's 2013 numbers (62 catches for 745 yards) were better than those of any Raven not named Torrey Smith.
The veteran wideout will likely be the No. 3 option for quarterback Joe Flacco to throw to behind Torrey and tight end Dennis Pitta.
More importantly, he'll be a veteran presence for a young Ravens receiving corps. New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is pleased with how Smith's work ethic has helped other Ravens during OTAs. Kubiak said, via The Baltimore Sun:
Boy, I watched him today, and I’ll tell you it was his best day with me out here. It’s just because each day he’s getting more comfortable with what we’re doing. He’s just so competitive. He brings an edge to practice all the time. He challenges people as far as how you play, how you go about doing things.
Smith's addition will pay dividends to the Ravens both on and on off the field.
3: Re-Signing OT Eugene Monroe
When the offseason began, the Ravens had several key players needing to be re-signed. Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe was arguably the most important, as he is the team's best offensive lineman.
The team traded fourth-round and fifth-round draft picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire Monroe in October for an upgrade at left tackle. He played well starting at left tackle and protecting Joe Flacco's blindside.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Monroe's plus-24.0 grade was the highest any Ravens player received in 2013, so it's easy to see why the team needed to re-sign him so badly.
If Monroe had left, Baltimore would have lost their best offensive lineman, and the picks they traded to get him will essentially have been wasted.
Baltimore was able to sign Monroe to a 5-year deal worth $37.5 million. They now have their starting left tackle of the future locked up.
2. Drafting LB C.J. Mosley
With their first pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Ravens drafted Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley to upgrade their defense. Mosley entered the draft ranked as the top inside linebacker and one of the best overall linebacker prospects.
He won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker this past season after he was the Tide's leading tackler for the second consecutive season.
Mosley registered 108 tackles and nine tackles for loss to go with five pass breakups, and he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Lombardi and Nagurski awards.
As a rookie, Mosley will challenge Arthur Brown for the second starting inside linebacker spot next to Daryl Smith in Baltimore's 3-4 defense.
Mosley impressed the veteran Smith during OTAs over the past month, per BaltimoreRavens.com:
I think it’s a great pick. [Mosley] has been here working his butt off, and he’s definitely got some ability. We added some pieces and look pretty good. We’ve got a long way to go, but I definitely think we’ve got the guys in here to do it, and we’re all motivated.
The future of the Ravens linebacking corps looks very bright with the addition of Mosley.
1. Hiring Gary Kubiak to Be Offensive Coordinator
The Ravens were in search for a new offensive coordinator after they watched Jim Caldwell become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.
Kubiak was fired this year during a season in which the Texans finished 2-14. He had been with them for eight seasons.
Regarded as one of the better offensive-minded coaches in the NFL, Kubiak has coached in three Super Bowl-winning teams as an assistant coach.
Kubiak became head coach of Houston in 2006 and led the franchise to its first division crown, playoff berth and playoff win in 2011. Kubiak followed that up with a 12-4 campaign in 2012 and another playoff win in the Wild Card Round.
He did all of this with an offense that routinely ranked among the NFL's best, and it was built on a strong running game. Houston set a franchise-record 153.0 rushing yards per game in 2011, which also ranked second in the NFL.
His offenses also got it done through the air. Between 2009-2012, Houston's passing offense ranked seventh, seventh, 10th and 11th, respectively.
Overall, it's a huge win for Baltimore. They ranked 29th in total offense and 30th in rushing offense last year, while also allowing the fourth-most sacks (48) of any team.
Hiring him was also a huge win for quarterback Joe Flacco, who regressed in 2013 on his way to throwing 22 interceptions and only 19 touchdowns.