It was a quick fall from grace for the Baltimore Ravens after their Super Bowl victory, what seems like a lifetime ago.
After their Super Bowl win, the Ravens saw wholesale changes from the top of their roster to the bottom of it. Joe Flacco was the one player who made a lot — and I mean a LOT — of money, but other guys moved on, including future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis.
The Ravens were now tasked with replacing a legend.
They did what they could, signing veteran Daryl Smith and drafting Kansas State’s Arthur Brown in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but the Ravens’ defense still suffered as a whole.
Even though Lewis was not an athletic freak in his later years as he once was, the Ravens still desperately needed the intangible factor he brought to their unit. He was a driving force for their Super Bowl win, and after having a season to see exactly what that type of player meant to their defense, the Ravens made a move.
With the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Ozzie Newsome dipped into the Alabama well and snagged inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was considered by many to be the best non-pass rushing linebacker in the entire draft.
As has been the case with so many ‘Bama prospects in the Nick Saban era, Mosley carried some potential medical red flags, but the Ravens obviously did their homework, and felt comfortable enough that they felt like Mosley could be the heart and soul of their defense moving forward.
Athletic, smart, and rangy, Mosley has the chance as a rookie to step into a major role on a competitive AFC North team. The Ravens missed the playoffs last year, but don’t plan on repeating that again in 2014. If they return to the postseason, Mosley will be a big reason why.
With Daryl Smith having the type of season he did in 2013, earning a new contract with the Ravens, Mosley has a chance to step in and be a significant piece to the Ravens’ playoff puzzle. Mosley is known as a player who goes full-speed at all times, and his elite instincts at the position allowed for the Alabama defense to be one of the most dominant in college football the last couple of years.
Some scouts feel like this is a player that doesn’t have any real weaknesses as a prospect. His football smarts are off the charts, and in Baltimore, that could be amplified.
Can he replace Ray Lewis? That’s a lot easier said than done. Can he bring a youthful, energetic presence to a Ravens defense desperately in need?