Baltimore Ravens 2012 NFL Draft and Offseason Recap, Analysis, and Projections

June 12, 2012;Owings Mills, MD USA;Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) during mini camp at the team facility in Owings Mills. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

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.

  1. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
  2. Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
  3. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
  4. Gino Gradkowski, G, Delaware
  5. Christian Thompson, S, South Carolina State
  6. Asa Jackson, DB, Cal Poly
  7. Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
  8. DeAngelo Tyson, DT, Georgia

Undrafted FAs
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

 

1. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

Scouting Report

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

Upshaw is a versatile linebacker prospect who really plays the game in a hard-nosed way who has a passion to get after the quarterback. He’s a better outside linebacker than defensive end (a little short for a defensive end), but can still make plays from the defensive end position. I think he’d be a great fit for a team like the Arizona Cardinals, and he should be drafted at some point in the first round, potentially in the top 10 if no other Rush linebacker emerges from this class.
Pick Analysis
This is a typical pick of the Ravens. Getting a guy whom I had in the top ten of my final rankings because he is truly probably one of the most dominant defenders in his class. He might not look the part completely, but I remember a guy named Lamarr Woodley falling out of the first round as well. Upshaw has a chance to be a great pro, and playing for the Ravens is a good fit for him. This was a great pick for Baltimore and should pay immediate dividends with the loss of Terrell Suggs.
2. Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
Scouting Report
Big, athletic, powerful offensive lineman who has been a pre-season All American by most major outlets, either first or second team. One of the best interior offensive line prospects in the country, Osemele will spend this season playing left tackle for the Cyclones so he has versatility to play outside if the need should arise, but most scouts are projecting him to move into the guard position in the NFL. He is an All Big 12 performer and has started every game over the last two years. One of the captains of the Iowa State football team, Osemele enters this season as a projected lock for the top 64 picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Pick Analysis
This is another very good move by the Ravens. Osemele was an All-American in college and despite some injuries, he played very well most of the time. He needs to get some better footwork, but he can start out at guard and work his way to the tackle position eventually. He can play four of the five spots on the offensive line and potentially take over at left tackle after a year or so, but the Ravens can’t force him into the lineup unless they have to because of injury. This was a great pick by Baltimore at the bottom of the second round.
3. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
Scouting Report

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.

 

Pick Analysis

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

Pick Analysis

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

Pick Analysis

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

Pick Analysis

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.

 

7. Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami (FL)

Scouting Report

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Thoughts:

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.

 

Pick Analysis

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

Pick Analysis

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

Topics: 2012 Nfl Draft, Baltimore Ravens, Draft Recap, Offseason

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