2011 NFL Draft | Baltimore Ravens Team Needs
The Baltimore Ravens are so close to becoming a Super Bowl contending team. The only thing really holding the Ravens back from becoming Super Bowl participants is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who they just cannot seem to beat when Ben Roethlisberger plays.
But they never get blown out, and they still have one of the nastiest defenses in the NFL. So what do they need to focus on to improve their team in the 2011 NFL Draft?
Biggest Needs: WR, RB, Backup QB
Joe Flacco continues to improve as an NFL quarterback. He’s making fewer and fewer mistakes in each game, and has been playing smarter football. The off-season acquisition of Anquan Boldin in 2010 certainly didn’t hurt anything, but Boldin faded out at the end of the season, and Flacco had to turn to veteran Derrick Mason to make plays.
With Mason and T.J. Houshmanzadeh aging, it’s important that the Ravens grab another play-making wide receiver to complement Boldin, who saw more double teams as the season progressed. Torrey Smith and Titus Young are two guys they could look at with their late first round pick. Both are packed with speed and great yards after catch ability.
Willis McGahee will be 30 in October, and has already begun to fade out. He’s not much of a compliment to Ray Rice, and Le’Ron McClain (who broke out in 2009) is a free agent. Look for the Ravens to get a bigger, short yardage and goal line back to pair up with Ray Rice. A middle round back like John Clay would be ideal.
Marc Bulger is also a free agent, and he’s not a good quarterback at all. The Ravens will likely try and sign a veteran in the off-season to backup Flacco, and most likely draft a solid quarterback in the late rounds to groom as a backup just in case Flacco goes down. Look for them to take a look at fellow Delaware grad Pat Devlin in the mid rounds, or a guy like Christian Ponder in the 5th or 6th round.
Offensive line depth also wouldn’t hurt, especially on the interior line, although it is not a necessity for the Ravens.
Biggest Needs: CB, DE, LB
Perhaps Baltimore’s biggest struggle in 2010 came in the secondary. Despite missing six games on the PUP list, Ed Reed led the league in interceptions. But he can’t do it all alone back there. Josh Wilson was a nice acquisition for the Ravens, but he could be gone to free agency, same with Chris Carr. Lardarius Webb, and Fabian Washington aren’t suitable starters, and a stud corner would be ideal for the Ravens who gave up 22 touchdowns in 2010 in the air. If Brandon Harris falls to the 26th pick, he could be a lock for Baltimore. Jimmy Smith would also be a nice fit with his physical play.
Defensive line depth is also needed for the Ravens as they struggle to get a fully functioning rotation on the defensive line. They often showed signs of fatigue late in the games, and struggled against the runs at some points during the year.
Finally, Ray Lewis is still a stud and a play maker. But it’s time for the Ravens to get a sledgehammer to groom behind the legend. He still has a few more years, but the overall depth in the inside linebacker corps is above average at best. Baltimore loves to improve their pass rush also, which is why Jabaal Sheard or Ryan Kerrigan would be excellent fits with pick 26.