General Manager Ozzie Newsome has never been known to make the biggest splashes in the Free Agency period. Sure, he makes his moves and deals, but he is one of the NFL’s best because of the strategy he brings to the office year after year.
This 2013 NFL season has started out with a bang for seemingly everyone. Many big names have been moved and you will be seeing a lot of “Same Faces, New Places” as we head towards the new season.
The Ravens haven’t made the big free agency move that many have thought. The team signed former New York Giant Chris Canty, but no marquee name has walked into The Castle yet. Players have been walking out however, and there have been a few that surprised even those closest to the team.
Dannell Ellerbe caps the list of four players that have left Charm City and taken a spot elsewhere. The Miami Dolphins offered Ellerbe a 5 year/$35 Million deal and Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the staff just couldn’t match that.
Let’s take a big step back and look at the scenario as it stands at the moment. The Ravens’ two inside linebackers would be Jameel McClain and Albert McClellan followed by a young Josh Bynes, who had several good outings last season.
So, where do the Ravens now stand looking ahead to the NFL Draft? Two big names stand out—Kevin Minter and Manti Te’o.
Many won’t like the fact that Manti Te’o is even on the table as an option, but the fact is that Baltimore is a very possible landing spot for the media-overloaded linebacker. Take the recent “scandal” out of the picture and Te’o wouldn’t be a bad option for the Ravens and Dean Pees.
His NFL Scouting Combine outing wasn’t the most attractive showing in the world, but we cannot take one day with five drills as any indication for what Te’o is like on the field. The Notre Dame alum was the rock of the Irish defense and his emotion on the field reminded many of a guy named Ray Lewis. Ring a bell?
Te’o is a great run-stuffer and a true leader. He is great at identifying plays, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a smart guy who can diagnose offenses to replace #52. His only downfall would be his speed. He lacks the explosiveness to beat athletic offensive lineman that great defenders need. If the Ravens are willing to take the risk, there could be a high reward.
Minter is the linebacker that I can see fitting best with what John Harbaugh is continuing to do in Baltimore. He is a bit undersized at 6’0”, but that is the only real concern coming into the Draft.
This kid dominated the SEC as he emerged as LSU’s leading tackler in his junior year. Like Te’o, his instincts are fantastic and he resembles last year’s top LB Luke Kuechly in his tackling ability. He refuses to stop pounding running backs to the ground, and he fits the mold of “Playing like a Raven”. I’m very high on Minter and I believe that if he falls to #32, he will be stationed at the top of Ozzie Newsome’s Big Board.
Both of these developing stars have a shot to be donning purple and black in 2013, and could make up for the Ravens being quiet in Free Agency.