NFL Draft 2008: What might be the Ravens’ ’08 draft strategy

brohm
On the heals a 13-3 record, the Ravens entered 2007 with lofty expectations and Super Bowl aspirations. However, injuries marred a season that was once filled with promise. With each starter bitten by the injury bug, whether it was Trevor Pryce, Chris McAlister or Samari Rolle, the lack of depth at key positions became more and more evident.
 
The performance of a once dominant Ravens defense fell off during the second half of the season and was actually among the league’s worst in several major categories. Once Pryce fell to injury, the Ravens were unable to generate a consistent pass rush and opposing teams then focused their attention on Terrell Suggs, limiting his production.
 
The key to the Ravens defense lies in their ability to pressure the quarterback.  Pryce commands a double team whenever he is in the game, freeing up other players like Suggs and Bart Scott who make the most of clearer paths to the quarterback.
 
While Pryce’s injury was significant, once McAlister and Samari Rolle went down, opposing teams were able to easily pick apart the secondary and the Ravens defense went from being the hunter to the prey. Instead of being able to consistently bring their exotic blitz packages and have the corners play close to the line, the Ravens were forced to play it safe and have the corners drop back to prevent long aerial strikes.
 
The conservative approach did little to help as the Ravens were tied for worst in the league in allowing the long ball, giving up 15 plays of 40 yards and they ranked third worst, giving up over 50 plays of 20 yards or more.
 
McAlister and Rolle are still among the league’s premier cornerback tandems when healthy but the secondary’s depth chart provides little behind them.  One would be hard-pressed to find another corner capable of starting in the NFL at this point. Corey Ivy is a hard nosed player but struggles in coverage and should not be depended on as anything more than a nickel or dime back while David Pittman, a former third round pick, has failed to live up to expectations although he did finish out the season with a solid game against the Steelers.
 
With McAlister and Rolle only starting 13 games combined, the Ravens pass defense gave up 220 yards a game after allowing only 188 yards a game the year before. The Ravens allowed 17 touchdown passes over the final seven games that McAlister and Rolle missed and allowed almost 250 yards a game through the air over the final half of the season, including a 315-yard game to Cleo Lemon of the Dolphins.
 
Heading towards the Draft, the depth behind Pryce as well as behind McAlister and Rolle have to be the team’s two top priorities. Obviously, the quarterback position is shaky with Steve McNair coming off his own injury, Troy Smith still being unproven and Kyle Boller having yet to prove he was worth a first-round pick six years ago.
 
Nonetheless, cornerback and defensive end have to be viewed as just as important as the need for a quarterback and maybe even more important. Smith showed he has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback when he made the most of his playing time at the end of the year and it would appear that he has the tools to be a starter. While there’s no doubt in my mind that the Ravens would take Matt Ryan from Boston College if he fell to them at No. 8, I don’t see another quarterback worth taking in either the first or second round unless Brian Brohm somehow falls to the Ravens in the second round.
 
Friday, I will take a look at some of the players the Ravens could select with their first and second round picks in order to sure up some of the holes on the defensive line and in the secondary.
 
*****
 
Get all of Matt’s latest on the NFL Draft at Press Box Online’s Football 101. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

10 Predictions for the 2014 Ravens

It's finally game week for the Baltimore Ravens, and while all attention is directed toward the Cincinnati Bengals for now, looking ahead to the entire regular season is just as intriguing. Baltimo...read more

PRACTICE NOTES: Bynes Released, Webb & J. Smith Return

As the Ravens prepare this week to open the the 2014 NFL season against the Cincinnati Bengals, they do so with all 53 players on the practice field, a good sign everyone is healthy and ready to go. ...read more

ASK THE CAP MAN: What’s the “Rule of 51?”

(1/2) Ravens are currently $8,392,818 under the Salary Cap, but that is Ruleof51 #, which ends at 4:00 tomorrow. After that, they all count— Brian McFarland (@RavensSalaryCap) September 2, 2014 ...read more

Ravens 2014 TV & Radio Programming

Ravens Wired, presented by Bose ·       Tuesdays at 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet ·       Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on MeTV Baltimore (WBAL-TV; second...read more

FANTASY LINKS: Pick Up Taliaferro

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 1 "We’re back. Fantasy football is back. And that means weekly start-sit decisions, waiver wire adds and emotional ups and downs that you’d only find i...read more

View More