The Ravens guiding principles from a free agency and draft perspective have always served them well. As Ravens fans we’ve heard them over and over.
“Right player, right price” is one. The Ravens don’t overpay unrestricted free agents. Whether it’s their own players hitting the market or identifying players from other teams that fill a need, they rarely get in bidding wars.
The result often means productive players leaving town to cash in, or losing out on big names in free agency. It can frustrate and disappoint fans, but more often than not it works out and the Ravens have an answer to fill the void.
Another, which seemed impossible a short time ago is choosing the best player available in the draft. The Ravens like to put themselves in a position where they have enough talent and depth across the board that they don’t have to reach to fill a positional need. The result is picking the best talent available when they are on the clock. It’s a strategy that has worked well in years past.
Two months ago this seemed impossible. There were far too many glaring needs. However, the Ravens have done enough over the course of the last couple months to be able to stick to the formula that’s made them successful drafting top talent.
Yes, there are still several holes. Running back is light depending on how Ray Rice’s off the field issues play out, but Justin Forsett serves as insurance.
Free safety is a need and Darian Stewart isn’t a long term answer, but he’s a security blanket in the event the Ravens don’t like what they see when they’re on the clock. Right tackle isn’t locked up, but the Ravens like Rick Wagner, and he’s an option if the elite linemen are gone.
They have Daryl Smith for the next few years, but if C.J Mosley is there they can take him. They have a great tight end tandem in Owen Daniels and Dennis Pitta. But, they signed Daniels for one year, so if Ebron is there they can take him. They signed Steve Smith, but if Mike Evans falls he’d be a great pick as well.
The point is the Ravens don’t have to reach, at any position. They can take the best player available with their picks, especially in the first round. Despite the fact that there are holes to fill they do have depth everywhere, even if some of that depth is strictly there as a backup option.
2014 is an incredibly deep draft. Several experts have said that having a top 20 pick this year is comparable to having a top 10 pick in years past. This year the Ravens have the highest pick they have had since 2006 when they selected Haloti Ngata 12th overall. With such a talented draft class and their highest pick in seven years, things will get interesting.
Considering the depth of the draft, and a successful free agency period, the Ravens have positioned themselves well.
More importantly they can stick with what’s kept them consistently competitive and take the most talented player on the board when they pick in the first round of next month’s draft.