Teams that are regularly successful in today’s NFL generally have solid quarterback play, efficient management of the salary cap and they effectively mine collegiate talent in order to replenish their roster. Miss on one and it puts pressure to be even better with the other two.
The Ravens believe they have their franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco and they’ve paid him like an All Pro. Next season Flacco’s cap number climbs to $14.8M. More seasons like that of 2013 from Flacco and it will really crush the team’s chances for success. The Ravens would then be forced to spend more to support Flacco with talent to offset his substandard seasons.
Eventually cap constraints will inhibit the team’s ability to bring in proven veteran talent. The roster becomes top heavy with underperforming and overpaid players and others who probably wouldn’t make the 53-man squads of the league’s playoff contenders. When a franchise finds itself in this highly undesirable situation immense pressure builds to find and quickly develop young players.
To avoid such a downward organizational spiral the Ravens are determined to fix their offense – to give Joe Flacco the tools to succeed. GM Ozzie Newsome’s shopping list at minimum includes:
- A new coordinator
- A veteran center
- A short-term veteran at right tackle
- Re-sign Eugene Monroe
- A power RB
- An impact WR
Ozzie’s challenge will be to complete the list on a limited budget.
All of the items on the list can be budget-friendly except the impact WR. Successful veteran WR’s are expensive and as we’ve seen during the team’s history they haven’t been able to draft an impact receiver – a difference maker that creates sleepless nights for opposing team’s defensive coordinators.
Torrey Smith has proven to be a very solid second round pick but his game so far is somewhat limited. Perhaps one day he’ll become a No. 1 WR but he’s not there yet and the Ravens don’t have time to wait for another Smith to develop.
They need help at WR now!
The 2014 NFL Draft is said to be well stocked with wide receiver talent, but we’ve heard that before and the Ravens have come up short with selections like Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton.
In the past the Ravens have shown patience and poise on draft day. They are so well prepared and adapt to draft day surprises quickly. They are very nimble in the war room.
This year, maybe the Ravens shouldn’t be so patient. They should develop a strategy to move up from 16 or 17 (pending a coin flip with the Dallas Cowboys) and get Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
Watkins for the moment is slotted to go between 7 and 10 in the 2014 NFL Draft by most draft publications. Utilizing the Trade Value Chart and assuming the worst case scenario, that the Ravens need to move to 7 from 17, the move would cost their own first round pick plus a 2nd and 3rd round pick. The Ravens should then be able to pick up a 5th round pick from their trading partner to even out the assigned pick point values.
The price may seem expensive to the Ravens. Assistant GM Eric DeCosta has often explained that he is in the “pick business” – the more picks the better.
But some players are worth moving up to get and Watkins is one.
Ozzie can complete the balance of his offensive shopping list within his budget but that impact WR has to come in the draft and there is no surer bet at WR in the draft than this Clemson Tiger.
Back in 2010 the Falcons made a bold move to jump 21 spots in the draft to get Julio Jones. They gave up two first-round picks, a second round pick and two fourth-round picks.
I don’t think anyone in Atlanta is saying, “I wish we hadn’t done that.”
It’s time for the Ravens to be as bold.