We’re back for another installment of our Facebook Q&A Session. It appears that since Bryant McKinnie resigned, most of the questions have shifted from the offensive line to the wide receiver position.
After attending a few press conferences with the Ravens 2013 draft class and with one open practice to the media in the books, I’ll try to shed some light on what is happening in Owings Mills.
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Brandon Lawson – Do you think Brandon Lloyd would be a good free agent signing for the Ravens to help replace Boldin?
The Ravens technically addressed the WR position with one of their 10 total selections, but seventh round pick Aaron Mellette isn’t the answer, nor will he probably make the 53-man roster. Brandon Lloyd fits the prototype of what the Ravens have typically done as they’ve searched for help in previous years with guys like the one whose name I’ll fail to mention (cough cough Lee Evans) and Jacoby Jones.
Had Lloyd produced in New England last year, he wouldn’t find himself currently unemployed. He’s been on the market with minimal interest, so I’d be surprised if they suddenly picked him up. More than likely, the Ravens will enter camp with the guys they have on their roster now, let them battle it out, and if a veteran that fits their scheme becomes available after being released, or if the Ravens can work out a cheap trade with someone on the bubble, they’ll make the move at that point.
Mike Hofferbert- Is the rumor about Dennis Pitta moving over to the slot receiver position from tight end true?
As far as the rumor is concerned, I have yet to really hear one primary source confirming it. I think that by the Ravens’ actions in the draft and waiting until the seventh round to do something, they’re quite content with whatever plan they’ve already established, and it likely means that tight end Dennis Pitta will play more of a receiving role.
I’ve said it probably 1,000 times now – the best comparison for what Pitta’s style of play will be this year is likely that of what tight end Aaron Hernandez does in New England. Hernandez was utilized so much as a pass catcher versus being a blocker, his compensation was related to his agent’s push to qualify him as a wideout – not a tight end – when it came to establishing his worth if he were to be franchise tagged.
The same could likely happen with Pitta if an extension isn’t completed soon.
Tony Hall – Will Jacoby Jones win the mirror ball trophy?
I’ll admit it, I’ve watched Dancing with the Stars – and only because of Jacoby. While Jacoby is doing extremely well and entertaining more than just the Ravens faithful, I think some of the competition he has will make it hard to walk out of the ballroom with the Mirror Ball trophy.
Even though I’m pulling for Jacoby, my money is on Zendaya; however, Kellie Pickler is pretty good herself.
Dennis Poling – Ozzie once mentioned Ed Reed’s replacement could be Jimmy Smith. Is there still any weight to that?
This is a very good question, Dennis. Judging by the Ravens signing Michael Huff to a three-year deal and drafting Matt Elam in the first round, I don’t think Jimmy Smith will be considered Ed Reed’s replacement. If we’re talking about seeing Smith make a transition from corner to safety, it’s possible.
Smith still has two years left until he’s an unrestricted free agent and this season will be the most crucial in his young career. If Smith fails to make an impact at corner, the team will likely try him at safety before cutting their losses and letting him move on elsewhere. The Ravens only re-signed James Ihedigbo to a one-year deal and they’ll be pretty thin with players that can be significant contributors beyond this season. Smith has the perfect body (6-foot-2, 205lbs) that you’d like to see from someone in the secondary, but his biggest problem is that he’s going to have to stay healthy long enough for the Ravens to get a good look at him.
In terms of the real question to there being any weight to Ozzie’s statement – at this point, I think not.
Brian Horn – Are we going to cut Vonta Leach to save cap space and use the money to sign a veteran receiver?
In my opinion, Vonta Leach’s future with the Ravens isn’t necessarily in question as much as the number on the checks they’re signing over to him is. With the Ravens being the class organization that they are, if they knew they would need to use Leach’s $3 million base salary, they would have let him go a long time ago so he could find employment elsewhere. Instead, I expect them to ask him to reduce his salary before the season starts – and, I expect him to oblige.
The Ravens understand what Leach means to their offense, and what he means to Ray Rice’s success. With the team drafting TE/FB Kyle Juszczyk from Harvard in the fourth round, it’s clear that Leach likely won’t be in Baltimore beyond 2013.
As I spoke about before, if Pitta is used more as a wide receiver in the slot, Juszczyk can fill more of the blocking tight end role, which would make sense if the Ravens have essentially two fullbacks on their 53-man active roster. There could be times where Juszczyk isn’t activated on game days early on as the team feels out how to juggle their fullback situation, but both he and Leach will be assets to the squad.
If a playmaker does somehow magically become available and the Ravens need money, Leach could certainly be the most attractive player to release, but as it stands now – with the Ravens being able to pay Bryant McKinnie and their draft picks – I firmly believe Leach’s job is safe.
Paula Somerville – Will all the draft picks play this year?
No, all of them will not. I’ve only had once glance at the draftees on the field so far as the Ravens held their final rookie mini-camp practice open to the media. First round pick Matt Elam will likely start at safety. I haven’t seen him jump yet but his lack of size does stick out when he’s next to other players. His money will be made in the box and breaking up passes with violent hits, not necessarily defending fade routes in the red zone.
I also expect linebacker Arthur Brown (second round) and nose tackle Brandon Williams (third round) to immediately start. Linebacker John Simon (fourth round) is a physical guy and John Harbaugh will find a way to get him on the field in a crowded group of pass rushers.
At first glance and judging by need, the rest of the draft picks will play sparingly. I already mentioned Juszczyk in the previous question. Center Ryan Jensen (6th round) has a 50/50 shot of beating out Gino Gradkowski, and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (6th round) will likely be placed on injured reserve while he heals from a torn ACL suffered in the BCS National Championship Game. As far as what the Ravens do with guard Ricky Wagner, wide receiver Aaron Mellette, and cornerback Marc Anthony – that’ll depend on their showings during training camp.
Thank you for submitting your questions and we’ll do this again next week. If you have a pressing question that doesn’t allow you to sleep well at night and need a little insight, you can always tweet me @RavenManiac.