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THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens News, Notes and Rumors

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens News, Notes and Rumors

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Time has a way of providing clarity.

Today something may seem rather obvious only to be proven wrong in years to come. Things that are a bit fuzzy now may force you to take pause in the future and ponder, “How did I miss that?”

Such is the nature of the NFL Draft.

One pick too early or too late could alter a career, the future of a franchise or the sports heritage of a city.

Just ask the NFL fans in Boston.

Back in 2002 with the 24th pick in the NFL Draft the Ravens took the 24th rated player on their board. Never before or since has it happened that the Ravens didn’t have higher rated options to choose from.

With the 23rd pick the Oakland Raiders selected Napoleon Harris, the 23rd rated player on the Ravens’ board and a player the Ravens would have selected. But the choice was forced upon Ozzie Newsome who stayed true to the team’s by picking their 24th rated player – Ed Reed.

trips-miami-2014-300x250A few years from now we may look back and consider similar twists of fate delivered by this year’s draft.

The Ravens lost a coin flip to the Dallas Cowboys for the 16th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, a pick the Cowboys used to select Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. The Ravens liked Martin but since day 1 of the draft we’ve learned that they preferred CJ Mosley at No. 17 even if both were on the board.

We’ve also heard that it’s possible the Ravens may have traded back if both players were still there. But they weren’t and the Ravens turned in the card for Mosley.

One pick, one slot, two careers to watch and wonder what might have been.

 

GO WEST

Speaking of which, we’ve also learned that the Ravens were prepared to make Terrance West the 99th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft had the Cleveland Browns not traded up to obtain the San Francisco 49ers’ 94th overall pick to take West.

Perhaps the Browns assistant coaches Jim O’Neil (defensive coordinator) and Brian Fleury (assistant linebackers coach), both with ties to Towson University help persuade Browns GM Ray Farmer to make the deal.

In years to come it will be interesting to see how West does compared to the choice the Ravens made at No. 99 (Crockett Gillmore) and the running back they selected in round 4, Lorenzo Taliaferro.

 

EDELMAN 2.0?

Staying with the Browns for a moment, it was interesting to see them make a deal with the Ravens, allowing Baltimore to get back into the 7th round to select slot receiver Michael Campanaro from Wake Forest.

The Ravens see Campanaro as a Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola type of player. They’ve studied how some teams have used late day 3 picks to fill specific roles and the Ravens wanted a heady receiver who could find soft spots in coverage, move the chains and make plays with his feet after the catch.

If Campanaro becomes that kind of player, the Browns may regret that inter-divisional trade with an organization Browns’ fans despise – particularly if the 6th round pick obtained from the Ravens in 2015 amounts to little.

 

NO BROWN OUT!

Many have assumed that the Ravens collective opinion of linebacker Arthur Brown has fallen off dramatically and point to the selection of CJ Mosley and the 4-year contract of Daryl Smith as proof.

That’s not the case at all.

Brown’s athleticism has impressed the coaching staff and insiders suggest that his familiarity with the playbook, position and system will allow his physical skills to show up on Sundays in 2014. Ultimately the team expects the duo of Brown and Mosley to be a formidable 1-2 punch anchoring the middle of the Ravens defense for years.

As for Smith’s 4-year deal, it’s unlikely that he sees that contract through to its end. The bet here is that Smith will be the starter for most of if not all of 2014 and then become a quality backup in 2015.

In 2016 releasing the then 34-year-old Smith would save the Ravens $2.125M in cap space. The team could then groom another quality backup or find a veteran free agent like Smith in 2013, looking to rejuvenate his career.

 

NOTES

OTAs (Organized Team Activities): The Ravens’ three-day OTAs begin the week of May 26, and the team makes one day in each of those three sessions open to media. Those dates are: Thursday, May 29; Wednesday, June 4; and Tuesday, June 10.

Mandatory Team Minicamp runs from Tuesday June 17 through Thursday June 19 after which the players will convalesce and train voluntarily up to the start of training camp. Training camp is expected to commence as usual in late July.

Which pairing is most likely to be the starting inside linebacker tandem for the Ravens by Week 17?

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. He also hosts Backfield in Motion with Justin Forsett seen on ABC2 every Saturday at 1PM. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. He ignores the passengers in cars beside him who laugh. Follow Tony's new Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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