What has made the Ravens a consistent contender over the years has been the ability to upgrade positions where they felt they had been lacking the season before. This time, they won the whole thing. Someone looking at the situation could say, “Hey, the Ravens just won the Super Bowl, just try and keep the players you have and they will get better.” No, that is not how it works and is not how the Ravens will operate. Even the best teams have flaws – it is just a matter of who hides them the best.
So what position will the Ravens look to upgrade next season? Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome already indicated that the middle of the defense is a priority in the draft.
While meeting their goal of winning a championship, the Ravens were able to survive by being clutch on defense more times than not during the season.
So what is the first priority for the Ravens? Some would say fill the inside linebacker spot voided by Ray Lewis, but since Ray is gone, nose tackle becomes the first priority. The Ravens were able to get away with the issues they had up front because even though Ray Lewis was injured, he was still smart enough to combat whatever deficiencies the Ravens had in front of him. The Ravens will most likely look to a rookie to fill that void.
Terrence Cody is still looked upon as a disappointment to many fans including myself with his lack of consistency in the middle. While the transition from playing defensive line in college to the NFL is a tough one, we expected more. With Haloti Ngata dealing with injuries in recent years, the focus for opposing offensive linemen has geared towards him even more than before. He needs to stay healthy. Add another young fresh body next to him. Nose Tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu is not expected to return.
Next is inside linebacker. Ray Lewis leaves a huge void being the legend that he is, but the show must go on. Dannell Ellerbe is expected to return to the Ravens, and with LB Kevin Minter from LSU projected to go to the Ravens in Mel Kiper’s current mock draft, the Ravens could have something special on their hands.
Defense is the foundation the Baltimore Ravens are built on. Joe Flacco may be the face of the Ravens, but the physicality will always be there.
The weak side defensive end spot is another position on the radar. Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee played well in spots during the season, but nobody has really solidified taking over the position as a primary starter. Are there hidden gems in the second or third round? Who knows? We will have to wait and see.
Then, of course, there is Ed Reed. Will he be back? He is saying all the right things at the moment, but we all know that there is a business side to football. It will be interesting to see if he and the Ravens can come to an agreement. If they cannot, free safety becomes an obvious glaring area of need.
Despite these questions, it is a great time to be Ravens fan.