Younger to be sure, certainly faster, hopefully better

Street Talk Younger to be sure, certainly faster, hopefully better

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The Ravens have certainly been busy since the Super Bowl, with the entrance of One Winning Drive assuming the look of a revolving door.  The organization lost several veteran players, mostly on defense, including Raven icons and sure Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  15-year veteran center Matt Birk retired and there are holes in the linebacking, safety, and offensive line positions.

Critics – both inside and outside the organization – have repeatedly said that the team had to get younger.  Here’s a list of ex-Ravens who have, voluntarily or involuntarily, left One Winning Drive since the Super Bowl.

Did the Ravens get younger?  Check out these numbers.  Everyone noted here are on the wrong side of 30.  The ex-players and their next birthdays occurring either before or during the 2013 season are:

This is a lot of veteran talent.  But it’s old talent.

Coupled with the free agency losses of Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, and Cary Williams, and the termination of Bernard Pollard’s contract, it looks like the defense took a catastrophic hit.

Until you remember that the great, vaunted Ravens defense of the last 12 years ranked in the 20’s for most of the season and was a shell of its former greatness.

Until you remember that the defensive line got pushed around in most games.

Until you remember that, in spite of the courageous goal line stand to keep the lead, the Ravens defense gave up 458 total yards to the 49ers in their Super Bowl win.

The defense was old and it was slow.

The Ravens have filled some of the holes with the signings of Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, and now Rolando McClain.  The first two signings will re-energize the defensive line; Dumervil and McClain beef up the linebacker corps; and Huff will be a younger, faster, but probably not as effective version of Ed Reed.

There is, after all, only one Reeeeeeed!

Disclosure: Earlier this week on this web site I complained that ex-Raider Rolando McClain had too many red flags for my taste.  Caveat emptor, I thought!  But I forgot two things – Ozzie Newsome probably vetted the decision to pursue the ex-Butkus Award winner with his good friend, Alabama’s Nick Saban, and it truly is a cap-friendly, low risk, high reward acquisition for the Purple and Black. It’s a move that only a stable team like the Ravens could make.

Maybe Rolando just needs to stay away from Decatur.

New, young talent will arrive with the draft; and it is expected the Ravens will draft additional linebackers, safeties, and offensive linemen.  The wide receiver position will also receive attention.

The NFL Draft is only two weeks away and, at this point, no one really knows who the Ravens will draft, at what position, and in what order? With every free agent addition the Ravens make, it changes my mental calculus on what players will stay on Ozzie’s draft radar.  Any projections made by amateurs like me or even professional draftniks like Kiper and McShay are nothing more than informed speculation.

With the free agent signings and 12 draft picks in this year’s draft, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and their staff have positioned the Ravens to restock the team for another playoff run later this year.

The 2013 Ravens will be younger, they will be faster, and they will revisit the postseason.

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Fran "The Fan" Vojik

About Fran "The Fan" Vojik

Fran Vojik has been a contributor to the Ravens24X7 site since 2005, first as a regular on the "Letters to T.L." page, then as the author of the Fran the Fan column. A huge Orioles and Ravens fan, he defines the term “homer.” A former season ticket holder of the Baltimore Colts, he now roots on the Ravens from his corner end zone seat in M&T Bank Stadium. His work makes him a regular traveler to various MLB and NFL cities and he’s watched both the Birds and Purple and Black in a variety of away stadiums. He brings a passionate and humorous perspective to the world of professional sports. Born in Highlandtown, and a graduate of Calvert Hall College and the University of Maryland, he lives on Furnace Creek in northern Anne Arundel County. He and his girlfriend, Sandy, have recently renovated his Man Cave, known as the “The Sports Palace," which contains many mementos from the Colts, Ravens, and Orioles. On days the Ravens play at home, Fran can usually be found tailgating at the Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Hall Local 734 , supporting the organization’s Widow’s and Orphan’s fund. More from Fran "The Fan" Vojik

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