DRAFT PREVIEW – BALTIMORE RAVENS

An look at Baltimore heading into the NFL Draft. The Ravens have the 26th pick in the first round.

REVIEW OF 2010

Record – 12-4, tied with division winner Pittsburgh.

Finish – second in the AFC North and wildcard team.

Playoffs – lost in divisional round of the AFC playoffs to Pittsburgh 31-24, after previously beating the Chiefs in the wildcard round 30-7.

OVERVIEW

The Ravens have been a consistent winner for the last five years, making the playoffs in four of those seasons. They continue to make it happen with defense, as they field one of the best units in the league with superstar players like LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed, OLB Terrell Suggs and DT Haloti Ngata.

Offensively, Baltimore has added the young franchise quarterback with Joe Flacco and they’ve gotten great production out of RB Ray Rice.

Overall, the Ravens have relied on building through the draft and signing the occasional free agent. They won the Super Bowl in 2000 and were a contender for the rest of the decade plus one, but haven’t gotten back to the title game.

PARTICULARS

Offense – averaged 323 yards per game (22nd in NFL) and scored 36 offensive TDs. Rice led team in rushing with 1,220 yards, along with 556 receiving yards. WRs Anquan Boldin (64 for 837) and Derrick Mason (61 for 802) led the team in receiving. Flacco had 25 TD passes to 10 interceptions, throwing for 3,622 yards and a 93.6 passer rating. Flacco was sacked 40 times.

Defense – gave up an average of 319 yards per game (10th in league) and allowed 27 touchdowns. Despite not playing the entire season, Reed led in interceptions with eight. Suggs racked up 11 quarterback sacks.

Special teams – K Billy Cundiff turned in a big season, hitting 26 of 29 FGs and dominating the NFL in touchbacks on kickoffs. P Sam Koch is a solid punter and the Ravens have several good returners, including WR David Reed who led the NFL with a 29.3-yard kickoff return average and a 103-yard TD return.

DECISION MAKERS

Owner – Steve Bisciotti, who is involved but is not a micro-manager and allows his people to do their job.

GM – Ozzie Newsome, the Hall of Fame TE from his playing days has been very good as the leader of the organization for over a decade.

Head coach – John Harbaugh, has three seasons under his belt with three tips to the playoffs and an overall record of 34-19 including the post-season.

Player personnel director – Eric DeCosta, who is considered one of the NFL’s best personnel types.

Who has the power? – Newsome has his finger on the trigger, but he doesn’t do it without great input from Harbaugh and DeCosta.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Defensive end – For that 3-4 defense, the Ravens badly need help at defensive end, where they had injury problems last year and their best contributor was eight-year veteran Corey Redding. In the last eight drafts, they selected only one DE, 2009 second-round choice Paul Kruger, who is more of a third-down pass rusher type that a DE anchor.

2. Wide receiver – The Ravens receiving corps is old and lacking a real game breaker. Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Donte Stallworth and T.J. Houshmandzadeh will all be over 30 years old this season, with Mason at 37 and Houshmandzadeh at 34. They lack a game-breaker who can get separation to make the play.

3. Offensive tackle – Oher was moved to left tackle last season and was overmatched. He’s better suited for the right tackle spot. The pipeline doesn’t have a clear candidate to jump in at left or right tackle.

FIVE-YEAR DRAFT HISTORY

Baltimore has done a good job in the draft over the last decade, but the Ravens haven’t hit on as many picks in the last five years. There are nine starters selected between 2006-2010, including Pro Bowlers NT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain and RB Ray Rice.

After loading up on defense through the early 2000s, Baltimore looked for more offense in recent years, including four of the team’s last six first rounders:

  • 2006: Ngata was a score in first-round, as was fifth-round SS Dawan Landry and sixth-round P Sam Koch.
  • 2007: First-round LG Ben Grubbs and fourth-round McClain were hits; rest of the draft was pedestrian.
  • 2008: Joe Flacco and Rice were big hits with first two picks.
  • 2009: Added “Blindside” OT Michael Oher, but best addition may have been third-round DB Lardarius Webb.
  • 2010: So-so as rookies, without a first-rounder and little from second-round picks Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody.

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