The Baltimore Ravens' 2009 season was one of angst and disappointment in the early going, as they threw away a hot start and struggled until the end of the season.
Fans can blame an inconsistent passing offense, a missed field goal, a boatload of penalties, and Joe Flacco's wavering health, but in the end, these inconsistent Ravens still found themselves in the playoffs.
Baltimore wasted no time surrounding Flacco with an explosive offense this offseason, as they traded for Anquan Boldin, retained Derrick Mason, and signed Donte' Stallworth.
Still, even with a more polished receiving corps, there remain a few team needs on both ends of the ball that the Ravens need to address if they want to get over the hump and once again become an elite football team.
Biggest Needs: TE, K, OT
The Ravens saw all they need to see out of constant misses (at all the wrong times) by both Steven Hauschka and Billy Cundiff, and they would be wise to either sign a more proven kicker or steal an elite one in the draft.
They're likely kicking themselves for letting go of the always reliable Matt Stover but will be fine if they can land Leigh Tiffin or Aaron Pettrey in this year's NFL Draft. Both kickers have displayed strong legs and solid accuracy throughout their careers, although Tiffin has played at a higher level and has more experience.
If the Ravens can shore up the kicker spot and actually get someone they have confidence in, then the next area of concern is a position they haven't been able to fix in the past three years.
Tight end has become a weak position for the Ravens, as Todd Heap is either injured or inconsistent, and even when he's on top of his game, his best just hasn't been good enough to have the Ravens forgetting about an upgrade. The signing of former Eagles tight end L.J. Smith hasn't worked as planned either.
The popular call here is that the Ravens spend their first rounder on Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham, and considering they shouldn't be using their first pick on a receiver anymore, this does make the most sense.
However, Baltimore could choose to beef up their defense (or even the offensive line) with that first pick, forcing them to take a closer look at a few other tight end prospects that could fall to them in the second or third round.
If the Ravens choose to wait, look for them to target Florida's Aaron Hernandez, a great pass catcher with moderate blocking ability and great speed for the position. He needs work on his blocking, but if he gets on the field, he'll be getting Todd Heap comparisons soon enough. Dennis Pitta is another well-balanced tight end with good athleticism that could garner a heavy look.
Another direction Baltimore could go in early is adding depth to their offensive line. They aren't dying at the position, but they definitely could use some depth at tackle, as their current backups were fairly unspectacular in spot duty in 2009.
Biggest Needs: CB, DE, Overall Depth
From an overall standpoint, the Ravens still have a very good defense. They did struggle against the pass for much of 2009, though, and could really use a stud corner opposite of Lardarius Webb.
Webb is probably solid on his own as a starter now, but the other guys they have either struggle in coverage or are useless against the run. They need a more well-rounded corner that they can throw in who can work immediately.
This is probably a position they'll target in the second or third round, where they could have an outside shot at nabbing Kyle Wilson or Patrick Robinson, but are more likely to be talking about guys like Kareem Jackson, Brandon Ghee, and Perrish Cox.
Jackson is fairly polished and is probably the better prospect of the three, but outside of a little refinement on their coverage skills, Ghee and Cox could still be considered solid upgrades.
Safety isn't a major concern, as Ed Reed is expected back (despite considering retirement), but adding a young safety to plug behind him in case he threatens the same in 2011 probably wouldn't be a bad idea.
Maintaining a solid pass rush is last on the Ravens' long list of "relative" needs. As previously mentioned, they are fairly solid across the board, but even with the addition of Cory Redding, they could still use some youth and talent on the line.
Trevor Pryce can still get it done but is aging and losing consistency. The first three rounds will likely be used to grab a fresh tight end, while defensive end and cornerback will duke it out for the next pick.
Overall, the Ravens are a complete team that just needs a little refurbishing in their secondary and needs some solid depth injected across the board.
They were poised to run the table last year but simply weren't consistent enough in the passing game (or pass defense) to get past the Indianapolis Colts. Some concentration on those areas could change their fortunes drastically.
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