C.J. MOSLEY A RAVEN
Thursday night the Ravens drafted inside linebacker C.J. Mosley from Alabama, in what was a somewhat surprising pick at 17th overall. Mosley profiles to be a player who can help stuff running games, while also playing a significant role against the pass because of his excellent athleticism.
The Ravens have a history of selecting Alabama players for their defenses. Everyone points to Ozzie Newsome’s ties to the University, but he isn’t the only one. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has been connected to Alabama head coach Nick Saban for over 20 years, and it’s all but certain the two discussed Mosley prior to the draft.
The selection of Mosley makes sense based upon his ability to become a Pro Bowl quality linebacker, but the timing of the selection has raised questions from some fans. One year ago, the Ravens selected inside linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round, and earlier this offseason, the team signed inside linebacker Daryl Smith to a four-year extension.
That being said, the way Smith’s contract is set up, he could potentially be a cap casualty in a few years, and some analysts believe that Mosley and Brown may eventually become one of the premier tandems in the league. If nothing else, Mosley should he,the Ravens should improve on their 12th ranked defense from last season.
OTHER RAVENS DRAFT PICKS
The Ravens double-dipped on defense in the first two rounds, selecting Florida defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan in round two. Jernigan is also a good of example of the Ravens selecting the best player available, as he was a fringe first-round player, but a controversial drug test and questions about his size allowed him to fall to the Ravens.
Early in the third round the team selected Florida State safety Terrence Brooks, who will have a chance to immediately compete for a starting spot on the team, after the Ravens allowed free safety James Ihedgibo to leave in free agency. Later in the third, the Ravens selected tight end Crockett Gilmore out of Colorado State who may fit well in the Gary Kubiak run-blocking scheme.
On the final day of the draft the Ravens selected defensive lineman Brent Urban out of Virginia, and then traded up for running back Lorenzo Taliaferro from Coastal Carolina in the fourth round. Urban has impressive versatility along the line, and Taliaferro provides speical teams help as well as depth if starting running back Ray Rice is suspended for his legal issues.
In the fifth round the Ravens selected Penn State guard John Urschel, and then selected Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning who will compete with Tyrod Taylor for the backup quarterback spot. The Ravens rounded out an impressive draft class with Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who profiles as a slot receiver.
MICHAEL SAM DRAFTED IN SEVENTH ROUND
The St. Louis Rams drafted defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft, perhaps ushering in a new era of acceptance in professional football. Sam, the co-defensive player of the year in the SEC last season made waves when he announced prior to the draft earlier this offseason that he was homosexual.
Sam finished 2013 with 11 ½ sacks, and played with a high motor. It will never be known if his sexuality affected where he was drafted as he was at one point regarded as a potential third or fourth round selection. Sam kept a low profile outside of his football performance after the initial questions following his announcement.
The Rams bolster what is already a very strong defensive line, and Sam offers depth at the position. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after the draft, “I don’t have any concern whatsoever…We drafted a good football player. I’m excited to get him on the practice field and get him going.”
This news affects the entire NFL, but is especially noteworthy for Ravens’ fans after all the work of former Raven Brandon Ayanbadejo, who was one of the league’s most vocal supporters of equality while he played with the Ravens. Sam’s rookie season will be scrutinized thoroughly, but nonetheless it is a proud time for the NFL.
RAVENS NOT FINISHED WITH ADDITIONS
The draft is complete, and the Ravens undoubtedly added a lot of talent. However, there are a few positions that still need to be addressed, including on offensive line and in the secondary. However, General Manager Ozzie Newsome said shortly after the draft that the Ravens are not quite ready to close the book on bringing in players this offseason.
“As you all well know, we’re not done as far as building this football team.” Newsome said. When asked about the decision not to add an offensive tackle Newsome added, “We were not going to just reach down and take a player at the tackle position.” Current free agent Eric Winston, who has a history with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak could potentially be a fit.
Other potential positions at which the Ravens could look to add depth include safety and cornerback, as currently the starting free safety could potentially be newly-drafted safety Terrance Brooks. At cornerback, Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson are currently the third and fourth corners on the team after Corey Graham was signed by the Buffalo Bills.
It is not Newsome’s game to draft what he feels the team needs the most, but rather Newsome drafts the players who he feels are the best available. If the Ravens look to free agency, cornerbacks Jabari Greer or Terrell Thomas make sense, as could safety Steve Gregory.