The Baltimore Ravens had another good season in 2010, but they fell short again in the postseason.
This year’s postseason loss hurts more than in previous years, as they blew a 14-point lead to the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.
This team has a lot of young talent on the roster, so I fully expect them to contend for a Super Bowl yet again next season.
Joe Flacco is one of the top young quarterbacks in the game, and he set personal records for passing yards and touchdowns in 2010. He has a lot of postseason experience for such a young quarterback, which will only help Baltimore in its quest for the championship.
Ray Rice is what makes this offense go, as he is not only a great runner, but he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield as well.
Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee provide depth in the backfield. The receiving crew was helped out immensely by the addition of Anquan Boldin.
He provided Joe Flacco with a true No. 1 threat who just happens to be in his prime.
Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh have seen better days, but they still can hold their own. Todd Heap turned in another solid season for the Ravens, but Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta could take over in the near future.
The offensive line struggled in 2010 because of the shifting around they had to do because of Jared Gaither’s injury.
Michael Oher didn’t look great at the left tackle position, and he may move back to the right side in 2011.
The defensive line is led by All-Pro Haloti Ngata, who is one of the most dominating defensive linemen in the NFL.
Cory Redding played well at defensive end as well, but Kelly Gregg is hitting the downside of his career, and Terrence Cody could take over for him as early as next season.
Ray Lewis is still the leader of this defense and he turned in yet another good season in his 15th year.
Terrell Suggs is the other Pro Bowl linebacker who provides a great pass rush from the outside linebacker position. He and Jameel McClain weren’t great, but they are serviceable linebackers who are solid starters.
Ed Reed led the NFL in interceptions despite missing the first six games of the season. He has a huge impact on this team, as the defense plays notably better with him in the lineup.
Chris Carr and Josh Wilson were solid at the cornerback position, and the depth at cornerback is pretty solid overall.
1. (43) OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas: Missed the entire season due to injuries suffered in a fall. His career could be in doubt now. 0 GP/ 0 GS
2. (57) NT Terrence Cody, Alabama: Played well in a limited role. He could vie for the starting nose tackle position in 2011. 13 GP/ 1 GS
3. (70) TE Ed Dickson, Oregon: Dickson is most likely the team’s tight end of the future, and he will most likely have a bigger role in 2011. 15 GP/ 3 GS
4. (114) TE Dennis Pitta, BYU: He looked good on special teams, but didn’t get much experience on offense due to two concussions. 11 GP/ 0 GS
5. (156) WR David Reed, Utah: He made a big impact on special teams, but he could be a factor on offense in the future. 13 GP/ 0 GS
6. (157) DT Arthur Jones, Syracuse: He didn’t get much of a shot as he is still developing, but he’ll get a chance to be a backup in 2011. 2 GP/ 0 GS
7. (194) OT Ramon Harewood, Morehouse: He is a developmental prospect who spent the entire season on injured reserve. 0 GP/ 0 GS
Summary: This class got a very high grade from me immediately following the 2010 draft, but it wasn’t as impressive once the season was over.
This class still has a lot of potential, but the future grade will be greatly affected by how Kindle recovers from his injury.
I think this class will make a bigger impact in 2011.
Team Need: Offensive Tackle
The offensive tackle position was thought to be very solid before the 2010 season, but the Ravens have some interesting decisions to make this offseason.
Michael Oher isn’t going anywhere, but he could be moved back to the right tackle position. He struggled at left tackle, and I’m not sure if he is best suited to be Flacco’s blindside protector.
Jared Gaither missed all of last season, and he may not be back, as he is now a free agent.
Marshall Yanda played right tackle last season, but he is best suited for the offensive guard position.
If Gaither leaves—and Yanda moves back to guard—the Ravens will be seriously lacking talent and depth at the offensive tackle position.
Look for the Ravens to consider a tackle early in the draft.
Round One: Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod
Round Two: James Brewer, Ben Ijalana
Round Three: Orlando Franklin, James Carpenter
Round Four: Joseph Barksdale
I think that if Sherrod is there in round one, it’ll be very difficult for the Ravens to pass him up. He has the ability to take over a starting tackle position in his rookie season.
Guys like Ijalana and Brewer could also start right away, but I think the Bears really need to consider an offensive tackle early on in the draft.
Anquan Boldin played well in 2010, and his impact on the offense was really evident. He will be Flacco’s No. 1 target for the foreseeable future.
Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are still serviceable, but they are both on the downside of their careers and may not play much longer. Throw in the fact that Houshmandzadeh is a free agent, and this position could be in trouble in 2011.
The Ravens need to get some young talent in at this position. They need to surround Joe Flacco with as many weapons as possible to maximize his talent level.
This is another position I expect the Ravens to address early in the draft.
Round One: Jon Baldwin
Round Two: Torrey Smith, Titus Young, Greg Little
Round Three: Dwayne Harris, Jerel Jernigan, Randall Cobb
Round Four: Edmund Gates, Jeremy Kerley
The Ravens could use another impact pass catcher opposite Boldin. Baldwin has the size and speed combo to develop into a No. 1 receiver, but his attitude could be a problem.
Smith or Young would be great options who could make solid No. 2 or 3 wide receivers right away in their rookie years.
Haloti Ngata isn’t going anywhere, as he is one of the top defensive linemen in the game. He will continue to be the anchor of the defensive line for years to come.
Cory Redding played well on the other side, but he may not be the long-term solution.
Another problem with this position is that the depth is less than ideal, as Paul Kruger hasn’t really been impressive.
This is far from the team’s biggest need, but I think that it is a position that they could consider at some point in the draft.
With a deep defensive line class, this is an ideal year for them to take an impact lineman.
Round One: Cameron Heyward, Christian Ballard, Corey Liuget, Muhammad Wilkerson
Round Two: Allen Bailey, Marvin Austin
Round Three: Lawrence Guy, Terrell McClain
Round Four: Cedric Thornton, Ian Williams
Heyward and Ballard could be viable options at the end of the first round, and they could challenge Cory Redding for the starting position in 2011.
Allen Bailey would be an excellent pick if he fell to them in round two, and he could be the next player from Miami to become a star on Baltimore’s defense.
Terrell Suggs is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, and he has one outside linebacker spot locked down.
Jarret Johnson is a capable starter, but he isn’t really an impact pass rusher, which is something the Ravens could look to add. That player could be Sergio Kindle, but I’m not sure how he’ll rebound from his injury.
This position may not even be a need if the Ravens are confident that Kindle can bounce back fine from his injury.
At this point, I have some concern and if he isn’t able to play at a high level in 2011, the depth is lacking a little bit.
Round One: Justin Houston, Akeem Ayers
Round Two: Brooks Reed, Jeremy Beal, Dontay Moch
Round Three: Sam Acho, Mason Foster, K.J. Wright
Round Four: Lawrence Wilson
Justin Houston and Terrell Suggs would be one of the top pass rushing duo’s in the NFL, but I don’t think the Ravens will use a high pick on an outside linebacker after using a second-rounder on Kindle last year.
Foster, Wright and Wilson would be solid picks, as they could provide depth at the pass-rushing position.
Ed Reed still played at a great level last season, but he missed some games again last season due to injury.
He has hinted at retirement for a couple of seasons now, and the Ravens need to be prepared in case he decides to retire.
Dawan Landry is also solid at the other safety position, but he is a free agent and he may not be back next season. If either one doesn’t return, it will create a big hole in the back of the Ravens secondary.
If Reed and Landry return for next season, this really isn’t that big of a need. However, the Ravens won’t know for sure if both will be back before the draft, so they may draft a safety as an insurance policy in case one of the starters aren’t back in Baltimore next season.
Round Two: DeAndre McDaniel, Jaiquawn Jarrett
Round Three: Deunta Williams, Tyler Sash, Ahmad Black
Round Four: Jeron Johnson, Quinton Carter, Robert Sands, Joe Lefeged
The Ravens could select a safety as early as the second round, as I don’t think any of the safeties are first round quality in this draft.
Jarrett is very underrated in my opinion, and I think he could surprise some people in his rookie season.
Carter, Sands and Lefeged would be solid picks in the middle rounds who can provide depth next season before eventually taking over for Ed Reed.
Inside Linebacker: Ray Lewis is still playing at a high level, but he will be 36 years old next season and none of the current linebackers on the roster look like they would be suitable replacements for him.
Offensive Guard: If Marshall Yanda has to remain at the offensive tackle position, the talent at guard will take a hit. At the very least, I think the Ravens could improve the depth at this position.
Running Back: Willis McGahee could have played his last game in Baltimore due to his inflated salary number for next season. If he isn’t back, the Ravens could look to add a new backup for Ray Rice in the draft.
The Ravens have some good young talent on both sides of the ball, but some of their key positions are starting to show some age.
Their defensive cornerstones, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, may not be around for too many more seasons, so the Ravens need to look for some future replacements for the future Hall of Famers.
The offensive line is also in trouble, and the Ravens need to protect their franchise quarterback as much as possible.
Ozzie Newsome has done an excellent job during his tenure in Baltimore, which is why the Ravens are consistently in the running to get to the Super Bowl.
He really needs to start looking towards the future, and as I said earlier, he needs to find some guys who can be groomed to take over for some longtime starters.
The Ravens have a lot of talent, and they will be contenders to bring the Lombardi trophy to Baltimore next season.