With the 2013 NFL Draft now finished, it is time to grade the Ravens ten selections.
Round 1 Pick 32: Matt Elam, S, Florida
When I looked at potential first round picks for the Ravens, Elam was one of the players discussed. In this article, I said “Since, the Ravens have the last pick in the first round, it is the perfect spot for Elam value wise. I wouldn’t expect the Ravens to take Elam at 32 but, if they trade down a few spots, I can see them targeting Elam.”
The first part of that makes me look like a genius, but the second part, not so much.
Onto the actual pick, the Ravens said that Elam was their target all along in the first round.
“I’ve never been so excited; it was fun watching him play,” Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a player on tape and play after play you just go, ‘Wow, oh wow.’ The way he played on tape is the way you have to play in the AFC North.”
Elam is a physical safety who will fit right in for the Ravens. He should start at strong safety from day one and is a more than adequate replacement for Bernard Pollard.
Pollard was a force in the box but struggled in pass coverage. Elam should bring the same ability in the run game but is already a better pass defender than Pollard.
The only knock on Elam is his height, at 5’10”. However, Elam makes up for this with the way he plays. He is always flying across the field to make big plays.
Overall, this is a solid pick for the Ravens as they had a big need at safety, specifically strong safety, and Elam will fit good in this spot.
Round 2 Pick 56: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
In order to get Brown, the Ravens traded up from pick 62 using a 5th round pick (165) and a 6th round pick (199). The reason for the trade up was the Ravens thought that the Houston Texans (pick 57) were targeting Brown.
Like Elam, I also had Brown in my article about potential first round targets. Brown fell a little on draft day as he was considered to be a first round prospect by many people, including me.
Brown probably fell due to having a recent shoulder surgery and because he lacked “ideal” height for an inside linebacker (remind you of another linebacker the Ravens drafted?).
Brown was the Ravens “Red Star” player in this year’s draft for the Ravens. For the Ravens, the “Red Star” player must show many good qualities like character and leadership. Previous “Red Star” players that earned this distinction are Ray Rice, Marshal Yanda, and Ben Grubbs.
When asked about Brown, Assistant GM Eric DeCosta said “He’s a guy that we coveted. We thought he was one of the best inside linebackers in this year’s draft.” and “He was definitely a consideration for us in the first round. There’s no doubt about it.”
I absolutely love this pick for the Ravens as Brown is the perfect replacement for Ray Lewis. Nobody is ever going to fully replace Lewis, but Brown should fill in very nicely. There is no reason that Brown should have fallen this far.
Round 3 Pick 94: Brandon Williams, NT, Missouri Southern State
The first small school prospect that the Ravens draft is Williams.
Williams had a school record 27 sacks in his career, while playing nose tackle. This is rare as nose tackles are usually just asked to take on blockers to allow the linebackers to get tackles.
At 325 pounds, Williams possesses ideal size for a nose tackle. His 325 pounds is fat though, as he look to have a lot of it is muscle. This is backed up by the fact he bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times.
Although Williams is a small school prospect, he had a great Senior Bowl which really put him on the map as a prospect.
For the Ravens, Williams should compete with the underwhelming Terrence Cody for the starting nose tackle job in training camp. I would expect Williams to win this competition as Cody has been unimpressive in his NFL careers so far after being a second round pick in 2010.
If this is the case, then the Ravens first three draft picks should be starting when the Ravens start the season in Denver.
Round 4 Pick 129: John Simon, OLB, Ohio State
Continuing with defensive picks, the Ravens drafted Ohio State outside linebacker John Simon in the forth round.
The 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is a hard working, high-motor player. His head coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer, was a big fan of Simon. In fact, he said “If we have another child, I want to name him Urban John Simon Meyer or something. That’s how much I love that guy.”
While outside linebacker doesn’t sound like a need since the Ravens have Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Courtney Upshaw, the Ravens needed a little more depth behind them. Plus, you can never have enough pass rushers.
This season, Simon should see some time as a rotational outside linebacker and probably as a special teams player. This was a value pick as Simon was considered by many to be a third round prospect.
At first look, you have to be wondering why the Ravens just took a fullback in the forth round. Usually fullbacks don’t get drafted until the sixth or seventh rounds. Lots don’t even get drafted. What makes this even more interesting is that the Ravens have All-Pro FB Vonta Leach on the roster already.
However, Juszczyk has the ability to play tight end as well so he will make the roster.
Fullback obviously wasn’t a need for the Ravens as the have Leach. However, Leach is 31 years old at a position that takes a lot of punishment. He also has a cap hit of $4.3 million this year and will be a free agent next year. If the Ravens cut Leach, they would save $3 million in cap room.
By drafting Juszczyk, it could be the end of Leach’s time in Baltimore. What is more likely to happen is Juszczyk will play tight end/H-back for this season. Next year, Juszczyk would become the fullback while Leach walks in free agency.
Still, however you twist it, the Ravens took a fullback in the forth round.
Round 5 Pick 168: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
The Ravens finally addressed the offensive tackle position with their fifth round pick.
With the Ravens not re-signing left tackle Bryant McKinnie (still a free agent), a tackle is needed. It would preferred to get a left tackle to keep Michael Oher on the right side, but that isn’t what happened here.
Wagner looks to project as a right tackle in the NFL. Most tackles taken in the later rounds are like this so it is no surprise.
While Wagner isn’t the left tackle that was needed, he will still provide solid depth on the line. If McKinnie isn’t re-signed, then Wagner will be the backup tackle. If he is retained, then Wagner will be the forth tackle on the roster.
Since he is a fifth round pick, he will make the roster either way, its just a matter of if he will see any playing time or not.
Like most late round picks, this is mainly a depth pick and this is a good one as Wagner anchored the Badgers line over the last two years.
Round 6 Pick 200: Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame
This is a perfect example of why having lots of draft picks is a good thing. Lewis-Moore was considered to be a good prospect before he tore his ACL in the National Championship Game against Alabama.
Lewis-Moore was the leader of a good Notre Dame defensive line last season. He had 40 tackles and 6 sacks before the injury ended his season. In his junior year, he tore his MCL as well so he has a history of knee injuries.
Since the Ravens had a surplus of picks, they are able to take a chance on Lewis-Moore. They can let him basically take this whole season off if he wants to, in order to recover. At best, he will be placed on the PUP list and will miss the first six games of the season. I would expect him to be placed on injured reserve to let him recover and to allow the Ravens to give a roster spot to someone healthy.
Round 6 Pick 203: Ryan Jensen, C, Colorado State-Pueblo
Another small school prospect, Jensen is basically a poor man’s Barrett Jones. This is because Jensen can play all of the positions on the offensive line, just like Jones did.
At Jensen’s pro day was the Ravens offensive line coach and Jensen visited with the Ravens in the pre-draft process so this pick didn’t come out of right field.
For the Ravens, Jensen will play center. A center was needed after last year’s starter, Matt Birk, retired after the season ended. I doubt he pushes Gino Gradkowski for the starting job but he will provide a much needed backup and is a good developmental prospect.
Round 7 Pick 238: Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
With their first of two seventh round picks, the Ravens finally addressed their wide receiver position.
This season for Elon, Mellette had 97 catches for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns and was even more productive (less touchdowns though) in his junior year.
Coming into the draft, Mellette was considered to be a mid-round pick so this is good value for the Ravens in the late seventh round.
Mellette will be part of a big training camp battle for the Ravens number three wide receiver position. It looks like Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones will be the two starters, so there will be a big competition for the number three spot.
Round 7 Pick 247: Marc Anthony, CB, California
Not the person who you think of when you here the name Marc Anthony but for Ravens fans he could become the new person to think of when you hear that name.
At 5’11”, Anthony has the size to be a solid cornerback in the NFL. He needs to work on his tackling but most college cornerbacks are like that as the evolution of the spread offense has forced them to focus more on coverage skills.
Like Mellette, Anthony was considered to be a mid-round pick so this is again good value at the end of the seventh round.
The Ravens needed one more cornerback for depth purposes and Anthony fits the bill. He will be a special teamer this year and could see some action in sub packages.
Overall Grade: A-
If you average out all of the individual picks, you will get a grade of B+. However, the Ravens got what looks to be three day one starters which should push the grade up a one spot to an A-. The late round picks were solid for the most part and have good developmental potential. The Ravens showed their commitment to fixing the defense as their first four picks were on that side of the ball. They didn’t address the wide receiver and left tackle positions like they were expected to but, good defensive players fell to them and the Ravens are always going to take the best player available. Overall, this is a very impressive draft class that will have an immediate impact on the team..