It’s that time again! Here are a few questions from our weekly Facebook Q&A session. Our site is all about the fans, so lets talk about what you want to, shall we?
Christopher DuVall: What are the Ravens’ thoughts about Rolando McClain?
Well Chris, I’m not the Ravens so I can’t give you their direct thoughts. With ILB being such a glaring area of need, I think it has certainly been discussed. The fact that McClain is an Alabama guy would also assure me that the thought of having him in purple and black has crossed the mind of Ozzie Newsome as well.
My gut tells me that this is a player they’ll pass on. McClain has had multiple off-field issues and the once strong Ravens locker room is currently under some personnel changes and the level of leadership is still to be determined. Could McClain help the Ravens? Absolutely. But the negative impact of McClain brining his off-field mess into the locker room is far too great of a risk in my opinion. Knowing that head coach John Harbaugh is a pretty conservative guy, I don’t see McClain playing in Baltimore. There are far too many red flags on this guy, even possibly for Newsome who has crimson-colored blinders on sometimes (see Terrance Cody).
Cody O’Brien: If the Ravens don’t get a tackle via free agency, do you see them looking to the draft or moving either Michael Oher or Kelechi Osemele to left tackle?
Great question, Cody. Left tackle is one of the team’s biggest needs as it’s not only the most important spot on the offensive line, it’s the most expensive. For a somewhat financially strapped team, that’s an issue.
Via free agency, Bryant McKinnie seems like the only viable and comfortable option for the Ravens if they were to make a move prior to the draft. I believe the Ravens will look to address tackle within the first two rounds of the draft. If there is a guy the front office believes can start immediately and he’s still around in the early to mid-20′s, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ozzie Newsome packaged some of his 12 draft picks to move up and grab someone.
Getting a tackle early in the draft would have positive outcomes for the team. They’re cheaper, younger and often less injury prone. In an ideal world, the Ravens would likely want to keep Osemele at LG and Oher at RT where they’ve performed the best – and helped win a Super Bowl. If the needs aren’t addressed for a clear-cut left tackle, the move to keep an eye on is moving Osemele to LT. At Iowa St. Osemele was a LT and is familiar with the position. However, in the NFL Osemele would perform better at guard where the competition isn’t as difficult on a week-by-week basis.
In my opinion, Oher isn’t as comfortable at LT as he is at RT, and I believe the coaching staff is clearly aware of that.
Travis Washington: Do you think Courtney Upshaw will be moved to inside linebacker?
No. Many fans believe the addition of Elvis Dumervil has made Courtney Upshaw the odd man out of the Ravens pass rush because Terrell Suggs is expected to report to training camp healthy. Plenty of times last year, the Ravens had their three pass rushers (Suggs, Upshaw and Paul Kruger) on the field at the same time in the nickel formation. Given the transition to the more pass-happy offenses, this will mean that the Ravens will stick with the same plan, just switching Dumervil for Kruger.
Upshaw has the talent to be a really good ILB but moving him to that position to fill depth would be premature. The team has to think ahead, knowing that moving Upshaw to ILB won’t do them any good if they need him to play more on the outside in following years.
There are a few things we know: Dumervil is here for the long haul, and Upshaw still has three seasons left on his rookie contract – Suggs is the question mark. I’ve given Suggs the benefit of doubt because the fact of him walking on the field last season was nothing short of a miracle – anything else he did was bonus. Suggs needs to play lights out in 2013 to justify his $12.4 million cap figure in 2014. If Upshaw can play anywhere near the level of Suggs next season, the former Defensive Player of the Year could be a cap casualty next spring.
As far as players moving to ILB, keep an eye out on Albert McClellan. Remember, he won a starting job out of training camp last year and he’s a big, physical threat in the middle.
Then of course, there’s Bryan Hall, who the Ravens are moving from DL to ILB.
Adam Letschin: What do you think is more likely: A.) Josh Bynes starting at MLB B.) Courtney Upshaw making the transition to ILB C.) Jameel McClain being ready for the season opener?
D.) None of the above.
James Pickering: Do you think Ray Lewis’ heir apparent is in the draft, or do you think he’ll come within the organization?
I don’t think you’ll ever have a heir apparent to Ray Lewis, he was just too dynamic and brought things to the table that you couldn’t replace with three guys, let alone one. As far as a future middle linebacker for the Ravens, that guy could be in the draft but he won’t be available when the Ravens pick at 32 – and definitely don’t expect Ozzie Newsome to mortgage the farm to trade that far up and get him.
The reason I say that about a linebacker is because teams have a better chance of finding a ILB than they do a true LT. In my opinion, Alec Ogletree is the only ILB worth trading up for, but I can’t fathom a way of thinking he isn’t on the board past the Chicago Bears’ pick at 20. He’ll probably be snatched up by the New York Giants the pick before.
Thanks for submitting your questions, I really enjoy getting to know what’s on the mind of everyone during the offseason. We’ll do this again next week.