Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens, much like the Falcons and Dolphins, were one of the surprise teams of 2008. After going 13-3 in 2006 they fell all the way down to 5-11 in 2007. This cost Brian Billick his job. The offensive mastermind never materialized in Baltimore and that was his ultimate downfall. Eagles special teams coach John Harbaugh was hired as the new head coach over player favorite Rex Ryan, now coaching the Jets. Under Harbaugh and rookie QB Joe Flacco the Ravens bounced back quickly, improving to 11-5 and narrowly missing not only a divisional title but a shot at the Super Bowl as well.

The Ravens have been great at two things when they field a competitive team: rushing offense and pretty much everything on defense. Last season was one of those teams. Baltimore was 4th in rushing yards per game, averaging 148.5 yards on the ground. They also capitalized on turnovers and good field position, ranking 11th in points scored despite being below average in total yards per game (18th). This is all thanks once again to a stellar, ball-hawking, hard hitting defense. A defense that didn't rank lower than third in the major statistics. They were 3rd in points and rushing yards allowed per game and 2nd in passing yards and total yards allowed per game. Turnovers were abundant and the team routinely pinned opponents inside their own territory. The defense loses Bart Scott, Chris McAllister, and Jim Leonhard unfortunately which could cause the defense to drop off some. They must find capable replacements.

GM Ozzie Newsome is a genius when it comes to player evaluations. He finds gems along the OL and little known players that develop on defense (Scott, Leonhard). John Harbaugh proved he has what it takes to be a head coach in the league. Can Baltimore topple Pittsburgh and become an elite team in the AFC?

1/23/23 - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
2/25/57 - Paul Kruger, DE/OLB, Utah
3/24/88 - Lardarius Webb, CB, Nicholls State
5/1/137 - Jason Phillips, ILB, TCU
5/13/149 - Davon Drew, TE, East Carolina
6/12/185- Cedric Peerman, RB, Virginia

  • WR - Try again.
  • LB - Check!
  • DL - Check!*
  • S - Try again.
  • CB - Check!
The one glaring omission during the Ravens draft was WR. No one was brought in during the selection process to help second year QB Joe Flacco. They did however have a pretty solid draft. They found two new LBs for their scheme and added a RB to take over for the change of position of Le'Ron McClain. They also had one of the biggest draft steals when they addressed the o-line. Not taking any receivers, d-linemen, or safeties hurts though.

*DE Paul Kruger will play OLB for Baltimore, so this was really a need that went unfulfilled.

GRADE: 55/100

Pick 1 - Why Oher slid out of the Top 15 is beyond me. He is a wonderful story and a terrific OT. He can easily be a standout RT and with some tutelage a solid LT. Ozzie Newsome got a gamer with this pick, even if it wasn;t the position that many thought should be filled first. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - Paul Kruger gets to learn from Terrell Suggs. There aren't many others better suited to teach a player to be a pass rushing OLB. Kruger could be the replacement for Suggs if he departs in free agency next year. Having the replacement already on the roster will do wonders for the team in 2010. The defense won't skip a beat; Kruger will have already learned the 'D'. Another solid pick by Baltimore. Grade: 8

Pick 3 - The Ravens definitely needed some CB help. The need was definitely lessened after Samari Rolle resigned and they added Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworth opposite Fabian Washington. Webb gives them a young guy to groom over the next two years to eventually challenge for the nickel spot. He was a good pick here though there were some other CBs more prepared to play sooner - such as Donald Washington, Victor Harris, and D.J. Moore. Grade: 6

Pick 4 - Former UDFA Bart Scott - Ray Lewis' partner in crime the last few years - followed Rex Ryan to New York, leaving the second ILB position up for grabs. Tavares Gooden or possibly Antwan Barnes or Prescott Burgess could try to fill the Scott void. However it could be this fellow right here. Phillips has the size to take on blockers in the 3-4 defense and would be a nice complement to Lewis. Grade: 8

Pick 5 - Not sure about this pick. Sure Todd Heap and new backup L.J. Smith are injury prone and third stringer Quinn Sypniewski is coming back from missing an entire year but do they need a young, developmental TE? Over help along the DL and at WR? Eh. No offense to Drew but this pick could have been better spent. Plus there were better TEs still available such as James Casey, Cornelius Ingram, and Bear Pascoe. Grade: 3

Pick 6 - Le'Ron McClain is being moved back to FB leaving only Ray Rice and Willis McGahee as experienced players at RB. Peerman was the best RB left on the board, followed by Rashad Jennings and James Davis. This was a good pick talent and needs wise. Peerman will challenge second year pro Jalen Parmele for the third RB spot. Grade: 8

GRADE: 43/60


Pretty nice haul, though they didn't really attempt to fill needs which can be good and bad. They found some future starters which is always nice but there are some depth problems at positions that could have easily been fixed throughout the draft. They only had six picks, one less than normal, so they need to be careful when trading away selections. In the long run it ruins quality depth. This class could have been a bit better if they went with a NT or DE instead of a TE.


WHY: I think I was generous in hindsight. This could easily have been a C or C+. The Ravens - while getting some nice value in Oher, Kruger, Phillips, and Peerman just didn't fill needs. And there was talent available at their picks that wouldn't have been reaches. I know everyone tries to follow the BPA method but sometimes you need to find players that can help you in areas of need. I gave them a bump up because going by numbers strictly is silly. I liked most of their picks even if they got hit hard for not filling needs.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick:
Worst Pick:
Instant Impact:

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Baltimore Ravens
CBS Sports (Prisco): B
CBS Sports (Rang): B
ESPN (Kiper): B
NFL.com (Brooks): B
NFL.com (Fan's): B
Walter: A


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