With a top-shelf defensive unit, up-and-coming stars in Joe Flacco and Ray Rice, a good offensive line and two useful receiving threats in Anquan Boldin and Todd Heap, the Baltimore Ravens don’t have too many pieces missing from the championship puzzle.
However, as we saw in their loss to Pittsburgh in last year’s AFC Divisional round playoff game, they don’t quite have everything in place yet. Some of it will come naturally to them, such as another year of experience for Rice and Flacco. But the Ravens still need to add a few pieces of the puzzle from outside the organization, and this year’s deep draft class is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
The Ravens don’t need a whole lot, which makes their mock draft much easier—and if it all pans out—much scarier than the rest of the league.
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The Ravens are set with their number one receiver in Anquan Boldin, but no one can be sure how long veteran Derrick Mason plans on playing. The Ravens simply cannot count on Mason, TJ Houshmanzadeh, or Donte Stallworth being in their long term plans. Looking at both the future and the present, the Ravens need a vertical threat who can stretch the field.
If they choose to address this issue in the first two rounds, we could see the Ravens target a guy like Torrey Smith or Leonard Hankerson.
Since cornerback will be a much more urgent need than wide receiver, though, the Ravens will likely wait until the second day of the draft to address this position and settle for a lesser-known talent.
Last season, the Ravens had to do without their regular starter Jared Gaither at left tackle, and because of the impending lockout/CBA situation, it is a distinct possibility that the four-year pro could end up as a free agent. This is no matter for the Ravens, despite Gaither being a very talented player.
Current right tackle Michael Oher, whom we’ve all heard of, is a natural left tackle and is just dying to get back over to the left side of the offensive line.
Also, despite Gaither’s talent, he is officially ready to be slapped with the nasty “injury prone” level, as injuries to his head, foot and back have caused him to miss 21 games the past two seasons (all of 2010 season, 5 games in 2009). Gaither will almost certainly be let go since it would be easier to slide Oher over and find a new right tackle rather than convince Gaither to move out of position to right tackle (or keep Oher at right tackle).
With a late first round pick, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi or Miss. State’s Derek Sherrod could be on Baltimore’s radar.
With Baltimore’s top three cornerbacks—Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington—all set to reach free agency, the Ravens need a contingency plan.
To protect their secondary in the likely event that they don’t retain all three, the Ravens should take a long, hard look at a guy like Miami’s Brandon Harris or Texas’ Curtis Brown on the first day of the draft.
Even after taking a cornerback on day one, they will almost surely take another on the second day of the draft to keep their secondary from being a liability next season.
Round 1 (26): Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Round 2 (58): Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Round 3 (90): Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
Round 4 (122): Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado
Round 6 (186): Greg Little, WR, North Carolina