I thought the Baltimore Ravens did a good job addressing depth concerns and adding quality talent on both sides of the ball. The recent loss of linebacker Terrell Suggs to an Achilles injury was just piling on a tumultuous off-season after losing 3 starters to free agency, having their back up running back retire, and the unsure status of franchise tagged starting tailback Ray Rice. The Ravens needed a good draft, and GM Ozzie Newsome delivered once again.
The Suggs injury happened after the draft, but I don’t think it would have altered their philosophy at all. Their first selection (2nd round, 35 overall) of Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw was a very good value pick. He had a 1st round grade by most scouts, and he probably slipped a little because teams were unsure if he was a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE. His measurables weren’t as sexy as some of the other like players, but he’s a high motor pass rushing football player that has a chance to step in and start from day 1.
They added to the offensive line with mammoth (6’5″ 333) tackle Kelechi Osemele of Iowa State in the 2nd and Delaware guard Gino Gradkowski in the 4th. Gradkowski will add depth, but Osemele may kick inside to guard and compete for playing time as a rookie.
The offense also received a boost with Miami wide out Tommy Streeter who fell to the 6th round. He’s a big (6’5″) go up and get it athlete that can flat out fly (4.4 40yd dash).
They have some insurance if Rice holds out with 3rd round running back Bernard Pierce. Pierce had some injury issues at Temple, but if he’s healthy he could push for some time.
They added three more defenders after the Upshaw pick, to make it an even 4 and 4 on both offense and defense. Free safety Christian Thompson, from South Carolina St., fills a need and should be a core special teamer to start his career. Corner back Asa Jackson has a lot of experience playing man to man coverage as a 4 year starter at Cal Poly. And 5 technique DE Deangelo Tyson of Georgia is a good run defender and could be a situational player as a rookie.
Lester will be running down a few teams he believes came out winners in the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s already looked at the solid draft of the Cincinnati Bengals and next up he’ll look at the job done by the New England Patriots. He can also be found covering the Chicago Bears at Windy City Gridiron.