Mission Accomplished? A look back on the Ravens 2008 Draft Class

NFL Draft Mission Accomplished? A look back on the Ravens 2008 Draft Class

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Round 1 (18th pick) – Joe Flacco, quarterback – Delaware

One way or another the Ravens were determined to get a quarterback in round one. When efforts to trade up and take Matt Ryan failed, the Ravens resorted to Plan B, trading down in order to get the second rated quarterback on their board. Fearing Flacco may be gone by the time they picked at 26, the Ravens traded back up with the Texans in order to draft the former Delaware star.

Flacco’s rare size (6-foot-6, 236) and arm strength immediately jump out at you but what impressed the Ravens was his intelligence, toughness and ability to retain information. There’s no question that Flacco has all of the tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL but at the same time he is making the jump from D-1 AA to the NFL. The Ravens learned with Kyle Boller that throwing a quarterback into the fire right away can seriously backfire and seriously hinder a young quarterback’s development. Working in Flacco’s favor is the fact that he is joining a team with a new coaching staff so he is not working behind quarterbacks who have been in the same system for a number of years. However, Flacco needs more time to learn the position, having started just two years at a D-1 AA school while operating primarily out of the shotgun. Flacco can make all the NFL throws but struggles when forced outside the pocket and will force throws at times because of supreme confidence in his arm. Flacco did a better job of going through his progressions as a senior but still tends to lock onto his primary target and stare down throws. There’s no questioning Flacco’s upside and five years from now we very well may view him as the best quarterback to come out of this class but right now he needs to sit and learn, rather than being thrown into the fire prematurely.

Round 2 (55th pick) – Ray Rice, running back – Rutgers

While running back may not have jumped out as a primary need for the Ravens, the team was desperate to find a reliable backup and someone who could handle an Ahmad Bradshaw type role behind Willis McGahee.

Rice in undersized but runs very physical and will pick up yards after contact. Extremely smart and instinctive, Rice displays excellent vision and is quick to read his blocks and find the hole or cutback lane. Rice carried the ball just over 700 times over the past two seasons at Rutgers and there is some talk that he may not have much of an upside at the next level. However, with his combination of vision, toughness and natural running ability, Rice provides solid depth behind McGahee and will find a way to make an impact as a rookie.

Round 3 (71st pick) – Tavares Gooden, middle linebacker – Miami
Gooden is slightly undersized but has experience at all three linebacker spots and gives the Ravens instant depth. Gooden also gives the Ravens some security since Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs are all set to become free agents at the end of the season. His instincts have been questioned but there is no questioning Gooden’s athleticism, range and tackling ability. The former Miami Hurricane plays with a mean streak and will be a force on special teams right away.
Round 3 (86th pick) – Tom Zbikowski, safety – Notre Dame
Aggressive and instinctive, Zbikowski is very solid against the run. However, he has stiff hips and is somewhat similar to Dawan Landry as both are liabilities in coverage. With Gerome Sapp leaving, Zbikowski will be a primary backup and could push Landry for the starting spot.
Round 3 (99th pick) – Oniel Cousins, offensive tackle – UTEP
A former defensive tackle with only three years of experience on the offensive side of the ball, Cousins is still raw but possesses considerable upside. Cousins has rare athleticism for the position but needs to get bigger and stronger. Cousins does not always play up to his physical tools and has had problems with speed rushers off the edge. Many scouts projected Cousins to make the move to guard in the NFL but with his impressive physical skill set and marked improvement as a senior, the Ravens will give him a chance to earn the starting right tackle spot.
Round 4 (106th pick) – Marcus Smith, wide receiver – New Mexico
A former running back, Smith made the move to receiver as a junior and proceeded to establish himself as one of the premier pass catchers in the Mountain West Conference. Big, strong and physical, Smith is tough to bring down and will create yards after the catch. Smith has good hands but needs work on his route running and will struggle to seperate from pro corners. After losing Devard Darling in free agency, the Ravens needed depth at the receiver position and Smith gives the Ravens an effective short-to-intermediate target who will go over the middle. Smith compiled 29 career special teams tackles at New Mexico and will be a valuable special teams performer.
Round 4 (133rd pick) – David Hale, offensive tackle/guard – Weber State
Hale put himself on the map with a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game and is solid at both run and pass blocking. Hale is not very athletic, struggles with speed rushers and may be a better fit at guard in the NFL. However, Hale plays with excellent technique and will provide depth at guard and tackle for the Ravens.
Round 6 (206th pick) – Haruki Nakamura, safety – Cincinnati
A big hitter with good instincts, Nakamura always seemed to be around the ball at Cincinnati and consistently made impact plays in the secondary. Slightly undersized with below average timed speed, Nakamura may not project as a starter in the NFL but with his underrated athleticism combined with a high football I.Q, he should at the very least be a solid special teamer.
Round 7 (215th pick) – Justin Harper, wide receiver – Virginia Tech
An impressive combination of size and athleticism didn’t translate into consistent success for Harper at Virginia Tech. Harper showed flashes throughout his career and delivered a solid senior campaign but for every spectacular catch there was an equally unspectacular drop. At 6-foot-4 with excellent leaping ability, Harper will be a nice target in the red zone and still has some upside if he can consistently play up to his physical ability.
Round 7 (240th pick) – Allen Patrick, running back – Oklahoma
A former defensive back who made a name for himself when filling in for an injured Adrian Peterson in 2006, Patrick is a tough and aggressive runner but does not have much wiggle and needs to do a better job of making defenders miss in space. With his lack of size and long speed, Patrick will be nothing more than a situational back and will have to make his mark on special teams which he is more than capable of doing considering his physical play and experience on defense.

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Matt Zenitz

About Matt Zenitz

Matt covers the Ravens for the Carroll County Times and Annapolis Capital. He is also a Ravens correspondent for the Associated Press. More from Matt Zenitz


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