Ranking The Ravens Draft PrioritiesPosted on April 09, 2014 by Phil Gentile
After shopping around in free agency, here are five of the most glaring needs heading into May's NFL Draft:
1. Right Tackle
The biggest problem with the 2013 Ravens was without a doubt the offensive line. Their struggles hurt Flacco's ability to find his receivers and completely stalled the running game. With Eugene Monroe back in the fold the only remaining hole is at right tackle. Michael Oher took his false starts to Tennessee and the team could definitely select his replacement early in this year's draft.
Possible options: Notre Dame OT Zack Martin, Virginia OT Morgan Moses, Clemon OT Brandon Thomas
The team moved Matt Elam to strong safety this offseason and decided to let James Ihedigbo walk. Imagine if Ozzie Newsome and company found a young talent like Jimmie Ward to pair with Elam for the next decade? The Ravens secondary was great last season but it missed a playmaker like it had with Ed Reed for so many years. If they can find that guy this defense will be scary good in 2014.
Possible options: Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward, Washington State S Deone Bucannon
3. Wide Receiver
It's been said over and over on this website but I'll say it again.......wide receiver is the deepest position in the 2014 NFL Draft. No doubt about it. Players in previous years that would have been 2nd rounders are going to slip to the 4th or 5th round simply because of the amount of talent at the position. The Ravens have a talented core with Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and "Touchdown" Marlon Brown so I would be surprised if they reach for a pass catcher early but there will be playmakers available through all seven rounds. Want to hear some late round gems? Remember the names Devin Street from Pittsburgh and Jeff Janis from Saginaw Valley State.
Possible options: LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr., Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks, Penn State WR Allen Robinson, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
4. Running Back
Bernard Pierce is coming off shoulder surgey and Ray Rice's legal situation could affect his status with the franchise going forward. Running backs aren't as important in today's NFL so that will cause some talented backs to slide in the middle rounds. The obvious choice is Towson's Terrance West, who is a Baltimore native and would be a perfect fit for Kubiak's system. Despite the recent signing of Justin Forsett, I could see the team adding a running back at some point during the draft given the question marks they currently have at the position.
Possible options: Towson RB Terrance West, UCF RB Storm Johnson, Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas
5. Inside Linebacker
Let's face it.......seventeen seasons with Ray Lewis patrolling the middle of the field spoiled us. Daryl Smith filled in admirably but he's 31 years old. It's hard to be confident in Albert McClellan and Josh Bynes as anything more than role players. It's not a pressing need but getting a young prospect to groom as the future leader of this defense would be hard to pass up if someone they like falls into their lap.
Possible options: Alabama LB C.J. Mosley, UCLA LB Jordan Zumwalt, Michigan St. LB Max Bullough