The Baltimore Ravens are consistently one of the best teams in the NFL, and they do it through building in the draft. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has been nothing short of incredible as a front office executive, exxcept for the fact that the Ravens have not won a Super Bowl since they beat the Giants back at the start of the new millennium.
Truly, the reason why Baltimore hasn’t been able to win the big one is because of a combination of bad luck and what I believe to be below average QB play. Joe Flacco can be absolutely stellar at times, and almost non-existent at other times.
This year, the Ravens have the tough task of replacing defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs, who was injured in the offseason but hopes to be back at some point in 2012. In all likelihood, he’s going to miss the entire year, and the Ravens already had lost outside linebacker Jarret Johnson to the San Diego Chargers at the start of free agency.
The void left by Suggs will likely be filled by a young player, of course one whom the Ravens acquired via the draft. And, as many will probably expect, that player will probably have a great season and become a household name himself. That player will likely be one of Paul Kruger, Sergio Kindle, or this year’s top pick Courtney Upshaw, one of the best defensive players in the country.
Baltimore’s stellar defense is led by a trio of future Hall of Famers and all first round picks of the team. The leader obviously is Ray Lewis, and not too far behind is Ed Reed, arguably the best safety to ever play the game. How can we forget about defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, one of the biggest, baddest, most athletic dudes to ever play defensive line in the NFL. Truly, it’s unfair that the Ravens even have the luxury of having a guy like Terrell Suggs, who was at his very best in 2011. Unfortunately, they will have to go on without him and it’s time for the next man up in Baltimore. For a deeper look at the future of this team, here is the Ravens’ class of 2012.
- Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
- Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
- Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
- Gino Gradkowski, G, Delaware
- Christian Thompson, S, South Carolina State
- Asa Jackson, DB, Cal Poly
- Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
- DeAngelo Tyson, DT, Georgia
Florida QB John Brantley; North Carolina CB Charles Brown; Morgan State TE-WR Lamont Bryant; Mississippi State OL James Carmon; Clemson FB Chad Diehl; Georgia FB Bruce Figgins; Slippery Rock WR Devin Goda; UAB DT Elliott Henigan; Baylor DT Nick Jean-Baptiste; Tennessee FB/LB Austin Johnson; Kent State DT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen; Alabama OL Alfred McCullough; Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey; Texas K/P Justin Tucker; Syracuse TE Nick Provo; Florida WR Deonte Thompson
2012 NFL Draft Class Recap and Analysis
Absolute beast of a linebacker prospect who might be best fit as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Teams might ask him to lose a little bit of weight to improve his ability in coverage, but he is the top inside linebacker in the 2012 class of players. Imposing physical talent who really emerged as a star in 2010 when he was a first time starter. Hard-nosed mentality, and could draw comparisons to Ray Lewis. Effective in pass rush and especially effective against the run. Has excelled in every role he has played for Alabama
Pierce is the type of guy who could come out after this year, his junior season, and make serious noise at offseason workouts. He is a physical marvel at about 6’1″ 220 pounds, and he reminds me a lot of Matt Forte with his ability to cut and his straight-line speed. I am not sure he has 4.4 speed like Forte, but he is definitely quick and a former track guy who can definitely burn defenders. Runs hard, will remind a lot of people of James Starks of the Green Bay Packers. Has had a huge career with Temple to this point, rushing for over 1,000 yards in two of his three seasons with 45 career touchdowns through 11/9/11. Needs to improve in his pass catching skills, but definitely has the ability to make plays in the open field. I am not willing to say he is a poor power back for his size, but he is definitely better suited to make plays on the outside and in the open field (similar to Forte).
Sometimes he will go down a little too easily on initial contact, but he is one of those guys who will have carries of 3, 4, 3, 2, and 3 yards and then just bust off a 30 or 40 yard rush. Nice agility, will at times try to do too much. Will have to make an adjustment to higher level of competition for sure, as he will not physically dominate most everyone like he does now at Temple. Good patience, doesn’t let the fact that defenses key on him on every play get to him as the game progresses. Solid balance, always looking for the open lane which can sometimes burn him as he will abandon initial gap read and try to reverse field.
PROS: Size, agility, big play ability, upside, hard runner, potential as a receiver, nose for the end zone
CONS: Lack of adequate competition, sometimes over-anxious, tends to rely too much on ability to dominate opposition with measurables, lack of receptions.
The third straight great pick by the Ravens, if you ask me. The team didn’t suffer by giving more carries to Ray Rice by any means, but without Willis McGahee, their lack of depth was exposed. This was an area of the team that needed to be addressed and the Ravens got a big body in Bernard Pierce who has great speed and reminds me a lot of Matt Forte if he can continue to develop his receiving skills. He could be a really high impact player as a rookie, even though he won’t put up huge numbers. He will be an excellent change of pace to Ray Rice. A fine selection by the Ravens.
4. Gino Gradkowski, G/C, Delaware
The Ravens obviously made this pick with the hope that Gradkowski could take over for the aging Matt Birk at center in the near future. There aren’t many guys you’d rather learn from and observe in the NFL at that position, but the good thing about this pick is Gradkowski also offers some versatility in terms of his ability to play both guard and center. The Ravens thought he was a smart player, as well as a good athlete and made him one of the highest picks in the fourth round. He wasn’t highly rated coming out, but he started to catch the attention of scouts in the offseason and showed he is a hard worker and willing to put in the time to be great. Despite coming from a small school, I like this pick for the Ravens. It’s not a flashy pick, but Gradkowski could wind up being a starter sooner rather than later for them.
5. Christian Thompson, S, South Carolina State
Big, fast, physical defensive back. That’s exactly what the Ravens require, and it’s what Thompson brings to the table. The former Auburn recruit has excellent size at 6’0″ 210 pounds, and he ran a 4.46 in the 40 at the NFL scouting combine. He has a daunting task of playing behind Ed Reed as he begins his NFL career, but the Ravens obviously think pretty highly of him to draft him out of a small school this high, and I think he can make an impact right a way as a special teams player. The Ravens’ front office had great things to say about this guy, and they are clearly pretty high on him. Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta identified Thompson as one of their “favorite” defensive players in the draft. That’s pretty high praise for a guy, especially a team that obviously knows what good defensive talent looks like.
6. Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly
Right away, Jackson will make his impact on special teams, specifically as a punt returner where he can be very productive. At Hawaii’s pro day, the Cal Poly product ran a 4.47 second 40 yard dash, and displayed excellent athletic ability. He’s not a big corner at 5’10″ 190 pounds, but he has the ability to be able to play special teams and contribute as an extra defensive back in certain packages. There was a chance he could have snuck into the third round, so the Ravens may have gotten a steal here. He has excellent speed and ball skills, and while he will have to take some time obviously to adapt to the NFL speed of things, he should be a guy who benefits greatly from all that talent in front of him on the Ravens’ depth chart. This is a pick that the fans should really like, a guy who could come out of nowhere in a couple of years and be an impact starter or special teamer.
Terrific size…Great speed for his size (reportedly sub 4.4)…will go up and get the football in traffic…runs a great “go” route…maturing (has admitted to improving his attitude from last year to this year)…He catches the ball with his hands well when it’s a go up and get them in the N.F.L….could be a huge red-zone threat at the N.F.L. level…huge upside…agile has nice little subtle moves in his route running so he could develop into a real plus route runner
Lets the ball travel into his body too often instead of catching it with his hands (especially on shorter routes)…really raw as a route runner, in terms of timing/percision…needs to see him catching the ball more in traffic
I think Streeter could use another year of refinement in College football to prepare for the N.F.L. He can learn a lot by continuing to improve in his route running and catching the ball in traffic. In the games I watched it was a lot of Fly Routes. With improvement he could be an excellent weapon for the Miami Hurricanes and in the N.F.L. He’s big, fast and he goes up in the air to fight for the football, he doesn’t always catch the football cleanly and there is something that was a bit off about him because Randy Shannon essentially refused to use him on the field so he could have a poor attitude though he’s reportedly took a different approach heading into this college football season. I also don’t know how much of a film room guy he is (not speculating one way or the other, just haven’t read for sure one way or the other). His upside, though is huge and i he runs anywhere near the 4.36 he can supposedly run he’ll be drafted on day two.
Another shrewd move by the Ravens here. After picking up three straight small school players in the middle rounds, they capitalize on the fall of a guy who is really raw but has a ton of upside and overall size/speed combo. Wide receiver is definitely one of the harder positions to transition to, especially in Baltimore for some reason, but if you are looking for the definition of a steal in the NFL draft, this is probably it. Getting a guy with his size and speed in the sixth round out of a school like Miami where he was pretty productive is quite impressive. He should be able to make an impact on this team at some point or another.
8. DeAngelo Tyson, DL, Georgia
Big, strong, athletic defensive line prospect who has a real shot at making the final roster for the Ravens. He stands at 6’2″ 315 pounds and ran the 40 in five seconds flat, throwing up 225 pounds on the bench 30 times. But how can he play? Well, despite some injury problems he is a tough player who uses good leverage, but while he gives effort, he is probably going to be a backup and space eater on the defensive line. This is a decent pick for depth for the Ravens at the bottom of the draft.
Key Offseason Additions
S Sean Considine (Cardinals)
CB Corey Graham (Bears)
WR/RS Jacoby Jones (Texans)
Key Offseason Losses
OG Ben Grubbs (Saints)
OLB Jarret Johnson (Chargers)
DL Brandon McKinney (Colts)
DL Cory Redding (Colts)
S Tom Zbikowski (Colts)
RB Ricky Williams (Retired)
Projected Depth Chart
QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Curtis Painter
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce (R), Anthony Allen, Damien Berry
FB: Vonta Leach
WR: Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones, Tommy Streeter (R)
WR: Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, David Reed
LT: Bryant McKinnie, Ramon Harewood
LG: Jah Reid, Bobbie Williams
C: Matt Birk, Gino Gradkowski (R)
RG: Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele (R)
RT: Michael Oher, Kelechi Osemele
DE: Arthur Jones, Pernell McPhee
NT: Terrance Cody, Ma’ake Kemoeatu
DE: Haloti Ngata, DeAngelo Tyson (R)
OLB: Courtney Upshaw (R), Sergio Kindle
ILB: Ray Lewis, Brendon Ayanbadejo
ILB: Jameel McClain, Danell Ellerbe
OLB: Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan
CB: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Asa Jackson (R)
CB: Jimmy Graham, Cary Williams, Cyhl Quarles
FS: Ed Reed, Christian Thompson (R)
SS: Bernard Pollard, Sean Considine
K: Billy Cundiff
P: Sam Koch
LS: Morgan Cox