From the start of the draft folks repeatedly asked me who I thought the Ravens would take.
Tough question really because as I blogged before, I don’t think the Ravens knew who they would take.
But that was a cop out of an answer so instead of the cop out, my oft repeated reply tonight was staged in three categories:
1. Who do I think might be available and who from that group might the Ravens take that I would be ok with?
2. Who do I think might be available and who from that group do I hope they pass on?
3. And finally, a pair of players that I didn’t think would fall to them but if they did, boy would I love them in purple.
So, those were my categories…
For No. 1 I listed Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson and Jared Odrick.
For No. 2 my frightful list included Jermaine Gresham, Terrence Cody and DeMaryius Thomas.
And for 3, my guys were Brandon Graham and Dez Bryant.
The players from list No. 1 were all selected relatively close to the Ravens at No. 25 and therefore I see them as fair value picks. Not steals, but solid nonetheless.
Gresham predictably went to the Bengals and I breathed a sigh of relief – not because he’s a bad pick. I just think that given the draft’s depth at tight end, there’s no reason to burn that pick for a guy with questionable blocking skills on a team built around the run.
Terrence Cody’s man cleavage made me question his desire to excel.
DeMaryius Thomas while a gifted athlete to me represented a player never challenged at the collegiate level and never forced to really execute the complete wide receiver route tree because he was so superior to opposing defensive backs. Plus his pre-dominantly run first offense never really challenged him to make pre-snap adjustments and get in psych with his quarterback. That’s an every down occurrence in the NFL and at No. 25, I want a player ready to produce in 2010. I’m not seeing Thomas that way.
Now to category three…
Brandom Graham simply just makes plays in the offensive backfield. Whether it be in run support or chasing down the chucker, this guy is a baller. That said, at No. 13 in the draft I’m thinking, “slight reach.”
Dez Bryant is the guy I really wanted for the Ravens. You see I’m not one of those guys who thinks the Ravens defense needs retooling. They were the No. 3 defense overall in 2009 and that happened during a season in which they were adjusting to a new D-Coordinator.
Excuse me but they are good enough and they were NOT the reason why the team failed in the playoffs in Indianapolis. That burden rests on the shoulders of Flacco & Co.
In many ways the best defense is a productive and sometimes lethal offense.
Dez Bryant has game. He has speed, size, hands, physicality and change of direction skills. Mix him in with a maturing Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte Stallworth and suddenly you have an offense that screams, “danger.”
Danger plus a top end of the spectrum defense spells AFC Championship Game or better.
I’m not sure what happened when the Ravens were one pick away from Dez.
Did they not want him?
Did the fact that Bryant is represented by the agent (Eugene Parker) who orchestrated an insanely unproductive hold out for Michael Crabtree weigh in?
Or did New England simply want to keep Bryant out of their own conference, opting to peddle him to Jerry Jones?
Choosing Bryant would have been huge for the Ravens on the outside looking in.
Yet given the Ravens’ trade partnering history with Bill Belichick, I found it a bit surprising that they didn’t move up a spot to nab Bryant.
Maybe they didn’t want to.
Yet before the disappointment of the Ravens’ failure to land an obtainable Bryant could actually seep in, we learned that the Ravens acquired the Broncos’ 2nd, 3rd and 4th round choices in exchange for the Ravens No. 1.
In a deep draft, that was an opportune exchange particularly when you consider the opportunity cost of the foregone pick – Tim Tebow.
As if the Ravens would consider him with the No. 25 pick.
Nice job there Josh McDaniels!
Thanks Tim Tebow.
Now let’s get to work Ozzie!