You know it really jazzes me when I read Facebook notes, instant messages or emails from visitors to Ravens24x7.com regarding the NFL Draft. The Football IQ out there amongst the Ravens Nation flat out rocks!
That said, I find it almost laughable how much criticism is directed towards the Ravens’ front office when it comes to who isn’t drafted and what available free agents are not signed.
I think fans sometimes forget that the men running the Ravens have been doing “football” for many years. They played it as toddlers, in high school and college. Some even played at the professional level. They’ve been scouting for years; studying tape; analyzing tendencies, body styles, attitudes, life adversities, intelligence and passion amongst many other things to ascertain whether a player can play at the NFL level or mix in with the collection of talent that currently wears the purple and black.
They do this 24×7 and they have forgotten more about football then we’ll ever know.
Questioning them is really like questioning your surgeon’s internal medicine advice.
So when I am asked, “Who do you think the Ravens will take with the 25th pick?” I don’t know really.
And you know what? I don’t think the Ravens know.
Do you think they went into the 2009 NFL Draft thinking Michael Oher?
I don’t think so.
They really liked Brandon Pettigrew with that 26th pick last year and when the Lions surprisingly selected him, a few in that war room were visibly upset – or so I’m told.
I don’t know, you don’t know and they don’t know who they will select at No. 25 – that’s what I know!
But for you-know-what and giggles let’s kick around a few names.
Based upon my conversations with sources and the things I observed and heard during the Pre-Draft Luncheon (which by the way is often filled with strategic lying) here are my thoughts on a few of the names often slotted for the Ravens as it relates to the 25th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft:
DE/DT Jared Odrick ~ He’s rising on draft boards and the sense I get is the Ravens really like the guy. He’s tough, determined, loves the game, has played for a big time program at Penn State and he just seems like a John Harbaugh kind of player. I’m just not convinced that they think he’s worthy of this pick. That said, he’s a safe pick. Maybe not a real difference maker but a solid contributor, compared often to Pittsburgh’s Aaron Smith.
TE Jermaine Gresham ~ Everyone loves Gresham’s pass catching ability and he is a smooth route runner. He’s a guy who could flank out wide and create mismatches and pressure defenses. But the thing I can’t get away from is how often I’ve heard the club discuss how some the league’s elite tight ends have been selected in the third round. Mix that in with the depth of this tight end class and I think Gresham, if available, will be passed on. The Ravens will probably take their chances on a tight end in Round 2.
WR DeMaryius Thomas ~ Prior to his foot injury one source said that he didn’t think that Thomas would be available to them at No. 25. Thomas brings all the measurables but he hails from a run first offense and was never asked to run a full route tree. Therefore he may lack the polish early on in his career to be successful at the next level. My guess, if Thomas is there the Ravens will reluctantly pass. They’ve done next to nothing in the way of developing WR talent and given how close they are to challenging for a title, I think the team is more inclined to go with a player who can contribute right away.
CB Kareem Jackson ~ This Crimson Tide baller has been climbing boards. He’s a guy who has played top level competition in the SEC and he’s spoken of in glowing terms by opposing wide receivers. Oh and I did say he’s from Alabama. His height might come into question but Jackson brings a nice combination of cover skills and tackling ability. He looks like a safe pick at No. 25.
DE/OLB Brandon Graham ~ The Ravens need a playmaker at defensive end and that describes this LaMarr Woodley clone. Some believe he is better than Woodley at this stage of his career and if that’s the case, drafting him is a no brainer. However, while I do believe the Ravens like Graham a lot, I keep hearing the issue of size surfacing. Graham is listed at 6’1” and his arms are relatively short. If there is a division in the ranks of the Ravens’ war room and Graham is available, a trade could and should happen if Ozzie opts not to pick the Wolverine.
WR Dez Bryant ~ Some think that the character issues that are part of this Oklahoma State prospect will send him tumbling down the board. Bryant’s issues are not real behavioral problems with the law. Concerns regarding this Cowboy’s attitude stem from his love, or lack thereof, of the game of football. What might he do with millions in the bank, but bankrupt in football passion? I can’t help but think about Randy Moss back in 1998 falling to No. 21 in the draft but maybe that’s just wishful thinking…I don’t think Bryant falls past the Broncos and the Bengals but if he does, I expect the Ravens to jump all over Dez!