Do you ascribe Pro Bowl status to each first-round draft pick the Ravens make on the day of the draft?
Was it difficult for you to imagine how either Albert Belle or Glenn Davis would hit less than 40 HR in their first year as an Oriole?
Were you excited immediately following the acquisitions of Jim Harbaugh, Scott Mitchell, Leon Searcy, Elvis Grbac, and Dominique Foxworth?
Did you have Lee Evans penciled in for 70+ receptions and 1100+ yards in 2011?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may suffer from post-acquisition euphoria.
I’m as guilty as many and couldn’t resist high-fiving the friend who told me Elvis had been signed.
By the time I got home, however, I wanted to lay out the pros and cons. I’d divide the factors into 8 categories:
Elvis is 29 and has played 6 NFL seasons in addition to sitting out all of 2010. The Ravens are likely buying into the decline phase of his career. There is significant difference between a 26 or 27 (typical 4-year FA ages) year-old and a 29-year-old, but the alternative might have been a 1-2 year rental on a player significantly longer in the tooth (Freeney 33, Abraham 35, or Harrison 35, as of the 2013 opener). Ozzie acquired McCrary as a free agent after the 1996 season when Michael had his breakout, 13.5-sack season with Seattle (look at his career to that point and he’s a slightly better Paul Kruger). When McCrary turned 29, he had 4 seasons, but just 27.5 sacks left in the tank.
This is the area where most folks focus. It’s important and the easiest to summarize. Dumervil has 63.5 career sacks in 6 seasons, including 11 in 2012. That seems like a lot, but he rushes the QB on virtually every pass snap (559 of 617 in 2012, 91%) and generates some form of pressure on just 11% of snaps (60 hurries/hits/sacks in 559 pass rushes per PFF). His productivity the last 2 seasons came opposite Von Miller, one of the best pass rushers in the game. Despite that advantage, he was less productive than Kruger (pressure on more than 15% of rush attempts in 2012). Given his size, I would have expected him to draw more than 3 holds in 2012, but he was 3rd on the Broncos behind Miller (9) and Wolfe (4). He is a coverage liability who does not play the run particularly well. He tries to time the snap and frequently pays the price (8 offsides penalties in 2012).
He’ll have a chance to go up against more RTs this season, who are typically not as good pass blockers as LTs. Last season Dumervil rushed 117 times from the offensive right side (ORS) which included 7 of his 12 sacks and 23 pressure events. He was, in fact, the NFL’s most productive pass rusher from that side among either 4-3 DEs or 3-4 OLBs with pressure on 20% of pass plays (Kruger 18%). I’d be surprised if the ability to move him opposite the RT wasn’t an important consideration to the Ravens.
His productivity might improve with fewer snaps. The Ravens’ other edge setting talent (Suggs, Upshaw, and McClellan if he doesn’t switch to ILB) enables Pees to sit him on more potential running downs. He played 87% of the Broncos snaps in 2012. If I had to estimate his 2013 playing time barring serious injury, I’d say 71%, which was Kruger’s 2012 share of snaps. If he takes a specialized role, he’ll likely generate more pressure, but the Ravens will be more vulnerable to the no-huddle due to the substitution issues. His size matches up well against some of the other AFC North behemoths at tackle (Adams, Starks, Whitworth, Andre Smith). Given his ability to find the edge low, he should generate more holding calls against these goons.
Relationship to other Ravens
He should help make Pernell McPhee a more effective pass rusher and I think they could become a dominant stunt team. He adds critical mass to the Ravens pass rush which should make them formidable with a straight 4-man rush. Since he doesn’t bring much to the table in coverage, he could hurt the pass rush in terms of disguised blitzes.
The Ravens will not have access to a top pass rusher in the draft without making a big play to move up in Round 1. LT is another position of need which may require use of a top pick or picks, so they maintain more flexibility to trade up or take the best player available if they don’t need to have a pass rusher then. The Ravens can address their needs at ILB, S, DT, and TE with picks that are not near the top half of round 1.
Strategic Roster Consequences
Terrell Suggs will be in the final year of his deal in 2014. Given his cap number, the Ravens will likely ask him to take a pay cut or perhaps extend/restructure. The signing of Dumervil gives the Ravens an option to replace Suggs in 2014. Courtney Upshaw was exceptional against the run in 2012. He was almost as bad as a pass rusher. The Ravens buy themselves a year to use Upshaw situationally and not rely on him as a pass rusher. That said, they will probably know a lot more about Upshaw’s pass rush skills by the time 2013 is complete.
His 2013 cap number is small ($2.5 million), so the Ravens would eat approximately $6 million with a 2014 cut. That makes it a real possibility the deal is 1 year for $8.5 million (spread over 2 or 3 seasons) in addition to any incentive he might earn in 2013.
If pressed to provide over/unders for the regular season, I’d say 770 snaps and 9 sacks for Dumervil in 2013 barring significant injury. However, “barring significant injury” becomes less likely each passing season. He’s a good player at the price the Ravens got, but only when you consider all of the constraints, synergy, and option value above. On a straight production-for-pay basis, I would have been surprised if Newsome would have made the move.