The Ravens left a few around the league scratching their heads when they followed up their Round 3 selection of Oregon TE Ed Dickson with another tight end, Dennis Pitta. The Ravens however loved the way Pitta controlled the middle of the field at BYU running precise routes and finding open spaces aided by his ability to read defenses. The team has been running multiple 3 wide receiver sets during OTA’s but don’t be shocked to see Cam Cameron employing three tight end sets in some situational sub packages.
Speaking of Cameron and the tight ends, word is the Ravens’ offensive coordinator wasn’t exactly enamored with the pick of Dickson initially. Although an outstanding coach, Cameron’s vision when it comes to recognizing talent isn’t exactly 20-20. He didn’t endorse the choice of Ray Rice either.
Looking back to the one NFL draft in which he had a heavy hand as head coach of the Dolphins in 2007, Cameron’s choices included: WR Ted Ginn (9 overall), QB John Beck (40), C Samson Satele (60), RB Lorenzo Booker (71) and DT Paul Soliai (108). Ginn was moved to San Francisco for a 5th round pick; Beck was released after the 2008 season; Satele was traded to Oakland for a 6th round pick; Booker has 178 career rushing yards and is currently unemployed and Soliai has five career starts and 28 career tackles. Not exactly a good return on five of the 2007 draft’s top 108 picks.
Demetrius Williams has added some muscle mass and has practiced well thus far during OTA’s and if that seems like déjà vu well get in line. Williams has the tools to be productive but his inability to stay healthy combined with a lack of dependability has hardly made him one of Cameron’s favorites. His lack of special teams contributions also hurt his chances to make the club in 2010.
One player who is a special teams stalwart and is competing with Williams for what is believed to be the fifth and final wide receiver slot is Marcus Smith. Smith has looked sluggish in OTA’s as he rounds into shape from ACL surgery and he continues to struggle with inconsistent hands. At this point Justin Harper is a bigger threat to Williams as is rookie David Reed. Reed is a smooth route runner with very good ball skills and hands. If he can pick up the offense quickly and earn a greater number of reps in camp while challenging for punt return duties, he could leap frog all competitors to fifth on the WR depth chart.
Back to Pitta for a second, word is that if Minnesota WR Eric Decker was still on the board during the 2010 NFL Draft he would have been the Ravens fourth round choice despite the scouting department’s attraction to Pitta. In the past the Ravens have regretted missing out on defensive backs Bob Sanders and Nathan Vasher. It will be interesting to see how Decker develops in Denver contrasted against Pitta’s productivity in Baltimore.
The Ravens are looking to augment their depth chart with a veteran in the secondary and the three currently being considered are Ken Hamlin, Walt Harris and Ken Lucas. Hamlin is a hard hitting safety while Harris is recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2009 while a member of the 49ers.
Lucas is an interesting guy who provides experience and good ball skills and all things being equal he could be the best fit. However there have been some murmurs amongst NFL circles about off-the-field concerns regarding Lucas that could affect the chemistry in the Ravens’ locker room.
Some have expressed concern over Jared Gaither and his questionable work ethic and what the Ravens might do if Gaither doesn’t become the staple at right tackle in 2010 that the Ravens want him to be. Fans might not want to hear it but the team prefers Oniel Cousins at right tackle over Marshal Yanda. They like Yanda at right guard and the combination of Yanda-Cousins is preferred over Chris Chester (RG) and Yanda (RT). Look for Chester to get more snaps at center during camp and the preseason. The Ravens are looking to the future and they aren’t sure how many more years Matt Birk has left in the tank. The club needs to know if Chester can competently accept the torch of O-Line signal caller.