The Ravens have several areas on their roster that they’d like to upgrade, but they also need to get younger at a few key positions. Obviously, Baltimore is looking to add more receiving threats but a few other positions become a little less obvious.
It’s my belief that the Ravens need to move Michael Oher back to right tackle. By doing this, Marshal Yanda would be moved back into RG, which is more of a natural fit for him. If Gaither returns, more than likely he’ll only be around for the 2011 season and the Ravens will need to look at a true left tackle prospect.
On the defense, Baltimore needs help at all three levels. For one, they’ll look to add a 5-technique defensive end to play opposite Haloti Ngata. Many of the prospects for this position will have played defensive tackle in college. The team needs help in the pass rush department and if they are even the slightest bit unsure of Sergio Kindle’s chances of returning, they’ll almost undoubtedly draft an OLB that can rush the passer.
Baltimore is also in need of another inside linebacker. This could be to play beside Ray Lewis for now, or, if the team is comfortable with Jameel McClain, they’ll still need another inside linebacker to be an eventual replacement for Lewis.
The cornerback situation isn’t as dire as before with Foxworth coming back from a knee injury but it’s unclear if the team will be able to keep both Josh Wilson and Chris Carr. Even if both return, the Ravens still do not have a true "shut down" corner and could look to grab one if available.
The Ravens also need some help at safety. Dawan Landry’s play has declined since his neck injury and Ed Reed won’t be around forever.
For purposes of this Ravens-centric draft analysis in 2011 we will focus upon improving through the draft at offensive tackle, wide receiver, defensive end/OLB, inside linebacker and cornerback.
Today we’ll take a look at Inside Linebackers
ILB – Round 1
Mason Foster – Washington: Very instinctive backer that can chase down the ball all day. Can get caught up in traffic but reads plays well and explodes through tackles.
ILB – Round 2
Kelvin Sheppard – LSU: Good at everything but not great at anything. Instinctive but can get caught up with blockers.
Colin McCarthy – Miami: Solid and hard worker. Blue collar type player that can make tackles all day.
Akeem Dent – Georgia: Excellent in run support but struggles in coverage.
ILB – Round 3
Greg Jones – Michigan State: Potential and production should have him taken much earlier but has fallen off the radar. Has excellent pass rush ability, solid instincts but has trouble getting off blocks.
Casey Matthews – Oregon: Can’t go wrong with the bloodlines. Fundamentally sound but not as athletic or instinctive as his brother.
Nate Irving – NC State: Excellent against the run and is known for his leadership. Hips are a bit stiff and may not have the speed to be a 3-down backer.
ILB – Round 4
Mark Herzlich – Boston College: Herzlich was a potential future 1st-round pick prior to being diagnosed with cancer. He’s returned to the field in 2010 after missing his junior year, but was not the same player. It’s possible that he’ll eventually return to form, but he appears to have lost a step which diminished his ability in coverage and as a pass rusher. ~ DraftAce.com
ILB – Round 5
ILB – Round 6
Greg Lloyd – Connecticut: Has above-average size and bulk, may be a little too large to remain at ILB at the next level, though… Has good instincts and quick reaction time, diagnoses plays quickly and fills holes fast, is a downhill player… Does not have great speed, could stand to lose some weight to add some speed and explosiveness… Durability a big concern at this point, tore ACL and MCL in 2009 and spent a lot of 2010 recovering. ~ SidelineScouting.com
ILB – Round 7
Douglas Hogue – Syracuse: For a player who has only spent 24 games at linebacker, Hogue will only get better. He has good speed and great instincts…whether it be hunting down the ball carrier or the quarterback. Hogue has solid hands, which he developed during his days as a running back and he could even be a short yardage ball carrier in the NFL. ~ fftoolbox.com