Bernard Pierce was an interesting choice for the Ravens in the 2012 NFL Draft. Granted the Ravens have always practiced what they’ve preached on draft day and that is to trust in their board and select the best player available.
But moving up 7 spots to get Pierce and foregoing a fifth round pick to do so while Anthony Allen and Damien Berry wait in the wings is no less than intriguing.
A message to the franchised Ray Rice?
At the very least thoughts of veterans with John Harbaugh connectivity like Brian Westbrook backing up workout buddy Rice or Ricky Williams pulling a Brett Favre, have been permanently squelched.
Some think that the Ravens erred by not moving up in the first round to land either David DeCastro or Dont’a Hightower selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, respectively. Hightower at No. 29 would have been a decent pick but with Courtney Upshaw still on the board (who by the way fills a more important need and a player most projected ahead of Hightower), why burn a pick to move up?
DeCastro’s fall was surprising and clearly he fills a need for the Steelers. But one team source informed me that the Ravens believe DeCastro is highly overrated and they liked Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler much better heading into the draft. Zeitler was selected by the Bengals at No. 27.
That said, it should be no surprise that the Ravens steered clear of the interior offensive line in the first round. The Ravens part ways with No. 1 draft picks about as willingly as Rex Ryan passes on a snack break. Losing Ben Grubbs was a bitter pill to swallow.
But in that same 2007 NFL Draft when the Ravens selected Grubbs, they also chose Marshal Yanda in the third round. It was there that they discovered something. Perhaps interior linemen are best chosen later in the draft – those that are tough, love the game, smart and coachable and in the end the team can save the big dollars for the more expensive positions while retaining their coveted No. 1’s.
Enter Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski.
The Ravens have done little to upgrade at wide receiver this offseason and will rely (some say over rely) on the development of Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams and oft-injured David Reed. They did however land an intriguing prospect in the form of Tommy Streeter.
Another Miami Hurricane bound for Baltimore, Streeter could become a red zone threat with his breakaway speed (clocked as fast as 4.39 in the 40), size (6’5”) and hops. The club likens him to former Raven Michael Jackson.
Streeter doesn’t possess the best hands but can go up and get the ball in traffic. With that size and wingspan (34 ¾”) combined with an ability to track underthrown passes, Streeter’s athleticism has to be accounted for on the field assuming he can handle the cerebral demands on a rookie receiver in the NFL. While the team (per usual) was surprised to see him still on the board in the sixth round he will likely be a first year project. His toughness and willingness to block suggests he could contribute on special teams.
When the news of Terrell Suggs’ injury became public many quickly concluded that the Ravens and frustrated New York Giant Osi Umenyiora would be a good match. They aren’t!
The Ravens didn’t see Umenyiora as a match last season because he’s better equipped to play in a 4-3 system given his size. Nothing has changed there and given Jarret Johnson’s departure coupled with Suggs injury, they’ll need their outside guys to be able to seal the edge – not a Umenyiora strength.
The team knows they can’t replace Suggs. Available Defensive Players of the Year aren’t just lying in wait.
To compensate for Suggs’ loss they’ll need Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee to continue to develop; Courtney Upshaw will need to be a fast learner; and maybe the team can enjoy some productivity in smaller doses from Sergio Kindle or Michael McAdoo.
It also wouldn’t hurt if Cam Cameron’s unit steps up and puts more points on the board.
In the end THAT could be the best way to mitigate the Ravens lack of Sizzle.