Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff have quietly put together one of the best offseasons in the NFL in 2010.
Considering the Ravens made the divisional round of the playoffs with an improving young quarterback and an always opportunistic defense, the influx of talent could pay immediate dividends in a suddenly vulnerable AFC North.
On offense the primary departures for the Ravens were wide receiver Kelley Washington, tight end L.J. Smith, and wide receiver David Tyree.
Joe Flacco is the undisputed leader of the Ravens offense while Troy Smith and John Beck play second and third chair. The Ravens have hired former Redskins Head Coach Jim Zorn as the quarterbacks coach to help iron out Flacco's mechanics and help him take the next step up the ladder.
General Manager Newsome may three bold moves by acquiring wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Donte' Stallworth, and retaining franchise receiving leader Derrick Mason. Mark Clayton rounds out a foursome that on paper should give Flacco a set of established NFL receivers from which to pick from when he looks downfield. Rookie David Reed from Utah has slot receiver skills and doubles as a kick returner.
Todd Heap is the old reliable at the tight end position who pulled in 53 receptions for 593 yards and six touchdowns in his ninth season. Curiously, the Ravens selected two highly regarded tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, in the 2010 draft.
Dickson, 6'4", 250-lbs, is an explosive athlete and has run as fast as a 4.59 40 yard dash, which he combines with a 34 inch vertical leap to make him a threat as either a tight end or an h-back.
Pitta has run a 4.62, has soft hands, and will win a lot of jump balls with his 34.5 inch vertical leap. He is considered a poor blocker but did have 27 reps of 225-lbs at the combine, so the core strength is there to improve.
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison runs multiple fronts and the Ravens have been synonymous with defensive excellence for the last decade. This offseason they made several shrewd moves to bolster the unit.
The primary subtractions from the Ravens team that went to the divisional playoffs were DT Justin Bannan and DE Dwan Edwards.
The defense starts with front seven and the Ravens improved through free agency and the draft.
The Ravens signed Cory Redding to replace defensive end Dwan Edwards and consider it an upgrade. They also selected mammoth nose tackle Terrence Cody in the second round of the draft to back up starter Kelly Gregg. Haloti Ngata starts at the other defensive end with fifth round pick Arthur Jones projected to back him up. Jones has starting potential if he stays healthy.
Cody may be the key to the Ravens draft because he is a 3-4, zero technique nose tackle who is a natural 360-lbs that has some athleticism. He is a very unique player at one of the most difficult positions to fill in the NFL and the Ravens were considering him with their first round pick.
The Ravens instead used their first second round pick to select yet another outside linebacker with monster pass rushing potential: Texas' Sergio Kindle. Kindle joins six other outside linebackers, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Antwan Barnes, Edgar Jones, Prescott Burgess, and Albert McClellan.
Kindle is a 6'3", 250-lb outside linebacker/defensive end who runs a 4.50 40 yard dash and is considered an outstanding pass rusher but has some injury concerns. He reportedly has had four procedures on one knee and suffered a concussion when he drove a car into a house in 2008.
The Ravens may have finalized their offseason acquisitions when they signed safety Ken Hamlin and added him to a mix that includes Ed Reed, Haruki Nakamura, Dawan Landry, and Tom Zbikowski. Hamlin may have been signed to protect the club against Reed's hip surgery and Nakamura's ankle injury or he may just have been brought in for depth.
Ozzie Newsome has provided Flacco with a new tutor, a potential number one receiver and peripheral receiving help with Stallworth and the rookie tight ends. On defense, he managed to grab another pass rushing linebacker, a monster nose tackle and a defensive line prospect in the draft.
He grabbed Cory Redding in free agency to replace the departing Dwan Edwards and grabbed safety Ken Hamlin to guard against Ed Reed's hip.
When you balance the scales, the influx of talent far outweighs the departures and Newsome has put the Ravens in a position to build upon last year's success and create a storyline all their own.