2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens just won Super Bowl 47. That’s all great and well, but as magical as their wild ride was, they actually did so despite a ton of flaws. Their defense is aging, and with the retirement of Ray Lewis and potential free agency loss of safety Ed Reed, it might lose two huge leaders and play-makers.
On top of that, they may not bring back Anquan Boldin, and need to lock up Joe Flacco for the long-term. After all, he did just win them a Super Bowl. The good news is, the Ravens got to and won an NFL title even when they weren’t necessarily at their best. And they can surely get even better.
Let’s see just how they can do exactly that by breaking down their biggest needs on both sides of the ball:
Offensive Needs: OT, WR
Bryant McKinnie rocked the left tackle spot for the Ravens last year, but he’s a free agent. Baltimore needs to retain him or draft someone to replace him, while possibly also bringing in depth/competition behind Michael Oher. Oher should be fine on the right side, but he struggled last year when he worked at left tackle. I don’t see the Ravens pressing here early in the draft. Look for them to lock up McKinnie with a long-term deal and simply add some depth at tackle in the middle rounds.
Due to the likely huge deal quarterback Joe Flacco will be commanding after being named Super Bowl MVP, the Ravens probably won’t be able to keep wide receiver Anquan Boldin at his current salary. Boldin has said he’ll retire if cut, so hopefully the two sides can work out a restructuring. Boldin is 32 and regressing, but he can still make plays and is a quality #2 receiver. However, one way or another, the Ravens need to prepare for the time when Boldin is no longer around. Stedman Bailey might be an interesting guy to target. He was a beast in college and could be available in the middle rounds of the draft.
Defensive Needs: MLB, S, CB
Ray Lewis is done. Even if he did decide to keep playing, his so-so performance in the Super Bowl showed that he’s physically on his last leg and the Ravens would likely move on, anyways. Dannell Ellerbe is a suitable replacement, but the Ravens still need another inside linebacker to pair with him. It would be a dream if Manti Te’o or Alec Ogletree fell to them at the 32nd pick, but I doubt either does. They could reach for Arthur Brown here, or possibly wait and hope they can snag him in round two.
With Ellerbe being a favorite to replace Lewis, it’s possible that Baltimore views safety as their biggest weakness with Ed Reed not sure to be back in 2013. I’d agree with that notion, and highly suspect the Ravens to draft a stud safety with the final pick of the first round. Kenny Vaccaro will surely be gone, but there should be realistic hopes that Matt Elam or Eric Reid are still hanging around. If the Ravens opt to not draft a safety, it’s not completely crazy to think one of those guys could drop to them in round too. That’s unlikely, though, and they’d probably have a better shot at Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas.
Corner could be a concern, although to a much lesser degree than inside linebacker or safety. The jury is still out on Jimmy Smith, and it might be a little risky to just assume Corey Graham’s solid post-season is a long-term solution. Lardarius Webb shredded his knee up and, as good as he is, isn’t a lock to be the same guy in 2013. The Ravens should grab a body or two to make sure they’re OK at corner going forward.
The Ravens aren’t going to drop-off over night, but it was pretty clear all season long that they were getting a little long in the tooth on defense. Adding some fresh legs at two key positions and rounding out with some depth should bode well for them. They could honestly be even better in 2013, which means a Super Bowl repeat is without a doubt a real possibility if all goes well.