With the 32nd Pick, the Ravens Select…

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With the 32nd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select Matt Elam, safety, University of Florida. For fans who expected the Ravens to trade out of the first round, they may have been lucky to hear that the Ravens took a great strong safety in Elam.

After the departure of Ed Reed, the Ravens decided it would also be time to let go of Bernard Pollard. The spot of Ed Reed was filled by Michael Huff, but Bernard Pollard’s position still remained a mystery. It was assumed that James Ihedigbo would fill that starting role, but his ability to play as a starter for a whole season was not something to be excited over.

The Ravens decided to turn to the draft to fill their needs. They had a number of options in the first, including inside linebacker, wide receiver, and safety. Instead of reaching for a player like Manti Te’o or Quinton Patten, the Ravens decided to take a real value player in Matt Elam.

Elam declared for the draft after a stellar junior season. He recorded 76 total tackles, 11 of which were for loss, four interceptions, a forced fumble, two sacks. That type of production showed Elam’s immense versatility to play in the box or drop into shallow to mid-range coverage. He’s not a prototypical center fielder, but he’s shown the ability to keep the play in front of him and not allow major plays over the top. When asked to come up and cover the slot, Elam shows an ability to run with the receiver, but he must learn to open up his hips and run on the deeper routes. Elam must react quicker in shallow zone coverage. He will often wait for a screen play or short play to develop before he will go to attack it. Two areas where he can really improve are working on catching the ball and working on reacting quicker to the play before it develops. Make no mistake about it, though. He is a very capable pass defender and will not be a liability by any stretch.

Elam’s true value will come in the box. Despite being a smaller defender (5’10”), he carries quite the punch. Elam will flash on the highlight reel with his huge hits and knockout blows, but at times, that can be a problem. Instead of looking for the surefire wrap-up tackle, he sometimes gets aggressive and lowers the shoulder. This can lead to missed tackles at times, but it’s certainly a fixable problem. In addition to being a vicious hitter, Elam is a very strong player on the line of scrimmage. He frequently creeps down the line of scrimmage and perfectly times the snap count to slip past offensive lineman. The ability of Elam to go untouched has led to a high number of tackles for loss and sacks. An area for Elam to improve in is trying to learn to wrap-up and tackle, not always go for the big hit.

The one area that may excite the Ravens the most is that Matt Elam is a very emotional leader. He may not be the natural leader that Ray Lewis is, but he is extremely vocal and energized on the field. His electrifying personality excites teammates and brings up the spirits of every player on the team.

What the Ravens are getting in Matt Elam is essentially a Bernard Pollard 2.0. He’s a Pollard type player in the sense that he is an extremely big hitter, but he’s a 2.0 model because he shows a much better ability to defend in zone or run with slot receivers. The Ravens should be very happy to have a player like Elam.

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Did the Ravens Overpay for Joe Flacco?

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I know I may be late for this, but only by a little bit… or a lot bit, but either way, this seems to be one of the hottest topics in the NFL, still. It has been almost two weeks since Flacco has signed his new contract. Can no person put this topic to rest, or do we have to examine this subject until we all go crazy?

People love to just point to the fact that Flacco is making $120.6 million dollars over the course of six years, but is that really what is happening? Is Flacco really doing to see all of that money? The answer is probably not. Flacco is only guaranteed $52 million of that money. The other money must be earned, and while Flacco may be able to do that, it is very unlikely that he will.

Even still, fans love to debate the topic of whether he was worth a contract like that. It was a miraculous playoff run, but that was only four games. After all, Flacco has never passed for 4,000 yards or more than 25 touchdowns in his five year career. Is he really worth that money?

The answer is yes. The Ravens have had to deal with Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Kyle Boller, etc. None of those quarterbacks were anything more than terrible, and for the first time, the Ravens have a true franchise quarterback. They do not have to worry every single year about whether they will have to find another quarterback or not. They have found consistency at the quarterback position and in today’s NFL, you pay for consistency at the quarterback position. You especially pay after your quarterback has the type of postseason that Joe Flacco did.

Joe Flacco threw for over 1,100 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was one of the most miraculous, if not the most miraculous, postseason runs ever. Flacco was nothing short of amazing on his way to winning a Super Bowl MVP award. It is easily the biggest reason as to why Joe Flacco got paid.

Many people will blow that off and say that it was only four games, but I disagree. It was actually five games. Five games under new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. Is it any coincidence that Flacco came alive for a five game stretch after Caldwell took over? Flacco has never had a streak like that in his career, so what makes anyone think he would do it in the playoffs, especially against two teams with top three defenses. Does that not strike anyone as odd? The fact is that Caldwell is an amazing coordinator who could work with Joe Flacco, unlike Cam Cameron. Think Cameron is just an excuse for Flacco’s poor play? Check out how well Philip Rivers and Drew Brees stats before and after Cameron leaves.

Cameron was offensive coordinator for Drew Brees during Brees’s time in San Diego. During those five years, Brees never passed for more than 3,600 yards and never threw for more than 27 touchdowns. His stats were sporadic at best. Brees could never find his groove and was eventually let go. Brees then joined the New Orleans Saints, and everything seemed to change. In his first year with a new coordinator, Brees threw for over 4,000 yards and tossed 26 touchdowns. This might have seemed like a fluke after Brees meritocracy in previous years, but in Brees’s seven years in New Orleans, he has not failed to reach at least 4,300 yards and 25 touchdowns. Brees has thrown for 5,000 yards three times in the past five years, and thrown at least 30 touchdowns, including throwing over 40 touchdowns the past two years. It is significant improvement from where he was in San Diego, and get this- it took Brees until his sixth year to reach his high flying status. Guess what? Flacco is in his sixth year in 2013.

Many people will brush this off and point to the fact that Brees plays in a dome. Playing in a dome is admittedly easier than playing outside, but we can dismiss that fact thanks to Philip Rivers. Rivers also played football with Cam Cameron, but it was only for one year. In that one year, Cameron had one of the greatest seasons by a running back, ever. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for over 1,800 yards and scored 31 total touchdowns in 2006. Despite this, though, Rivers was mediocre. Rivers only passed for 3,388 yards and 22 touchdowns. Following the 2006 season, Cameron was hired by the Dolphins. Rivers slightly regressed, but in 2008, Rivers broke out. He came out and threw for 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns. In the past five years, Rivers has only failed to pass for at least 4,000 yards once, but has never failed to pass for at least 25 touchdowns. Rivers has also never failed to have a completion percentage of at least 63%.

It is not a coincidence that Flacco started to heat up once Caldwell took over the starting job. With the exception of Caldwell’s first game as an NFL offensive coordinator, Flacco did not toss a single turnover, all while throwing 13 touchdowns. Even if you do include Caldwell’s first ever game as a coordinator, though, Flacco still threw 15 touchdowns to just one fumble and one interception. Flacco also never failed to pass for at least 240 yards, and routinely threw for 280 plus yards. If Flacco’s stats were averaged out for an entire season, Flacco would have thrown for 4,541 yards and 40 touchdowns with a mere three interceptions. Those stats come on a meager 539 pass attempts. If Flacco were to pass for over 600 pass attempts like most of the elites, his stats would look like this: 5054 yards, 45 touchdowns, and three interceptions on just 600 pass attempts.

Will Flacco have that type of production next season? It is highly unlikely that he will, but it is worth showing that Flacco played extremely well under Caldwell and could play extremely well into next season. So did the Ravens overpay for Flacco? Not even close. Flacco has the potential and the coordinator to do great things in this league.

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Possible Ravens Draft Day Surprises

Every year there are draft surprises. Last year, Shea McClellan and Bruce Irvin were taken before within the top 20 and Dontari Poe was taken with the 11th overall pick. That’s a small sample, but those pick came as surprises to many. Could there be more surprises this year? I’m going to go off the deep end here and say you’d be extremely dumb to say no. However, I’m more concerned with what the Baltimore Ravens do, so what are possible surprising moves they could make?

The Ravens Trade… Up?

When you’ve recovered from the violent shaking of your neck from side to side, take a second to actually try to think this one through. I understand 100% that this is an extremely deep draft and I 100% understand that the Ravens love having draft picks, but would the Ravens really try to gain more than 12 picks? Ozzie Newsome has recently said that he doesn’t expect all his draft picks to make the roster. When they do, it’s great, but not all are expected to. Adding more than 12 picks would greatly decrease the chances of each rookie making the roster, so why not trade up for a can’t miss prospect?

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The Ravens Trade Up… to 6th Overall?

You might want to see a chiropractor after you’re done shaking your neck so violently from side to side after reading that title. Seriously, though, this is actually a possibility. A small possibility, but still a possibility, nonetheless. To trade up, the Ravens would be looking at trading their first round pick this year, their first round pick next year, and possibly a third round this year and next year. Is it worth it to trade up that far? For a franchise left tackle, it very well could be. The Ravens are in desperate need of a left tackle, especially after Flacco threw for almost 1,200 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions in the four games that he had a decent left tackle. Now, imagine would Flacco would do with an elite left tackle. Wow, right? At this point, the “big three” left tackles, Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson are considered to go in the top seven at the very latest. It’s a bit of a toss-up at this point in time when trying to figure out where they’ll go, but one thing is for sure- these prospects are the real deal. The Ravens have reportedly said they will “keep an eye on Lane Johnson”. Johnson is considered to be the third best left tackle prospect in the draft, but he’s an athletic freak, so he’s considered a very realistic possibility for Chip Kelly’s high-tempo Eagles. The Chiefs were once considered to be locks for Luke Joeckel, but recent reports suggest they may draft Eric Fisher. That means if the Ravens were able to trade up in front of the Cardinals, and the Browns are looking to trade their pick, the Ravens could grab Luke Joeckel. Joeckel is widely considered to be the very best prospect in the draft and the most pro-ready left tackle, so if he were to be there at six, the Ravens might want to pull the trigger. If they did, I’d faint from happiness and shock.

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The Ravens Draft… a Tight End?

Is your side hurting from laughing so hard at this idea? I just can’t catch a break, can I? Well, I suppose a hurt side is better than seeing a chiropractor… But in all seriousness, I really would love to see the Ravens draft a tight end. I acknowledge the fact that the Ravens have a great tight end on the roster in Dennis Pitta, but what I don’t accept is the idea that the Ravens have a great slot receiver on the roster. Don’t even try to sell me on Tandon Doss because all he’s seemed to do so far is practice well. If the Ravens drafted a tight end, they could move Pitta into the slot receiver role, which would be great when you consider the chemistry he and Joe Flacco share. So, what tight end would be worth taking? Tyler Eifert, without a doubt in my mind. I actually really like Eifert and wanted to mock him to the Ravens, but it seemed unlikely he’d fall far enough to get to the Ravens. However, with the Bucs trading their first round pick and the Jets shopping one of their first round picks, Eifert may tumble down. If it comes down to it, the Ravens could look to trade with the Minnesota Vikings or the New York Jets to add Eifert. Eifert would be a much more capable blocker than Pitta and would provide an extremely strong receiving threat for the Ravens. He stands 6’6” tall, weighs 250 pounds, and run a 4.6 forty yard dash. He’s the perfect mismatch to make defenses sweat. Could you imagine Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones taking the tops off defenses with Dennis Pitta and Tyler Eifert working the middle? Opposing offenses might as well be putting their helmets on at that point.

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The Ravens Don’t Draft… a Wide Receiver?

Do your vocal cords hurt from yelling at the computer about how dumb I am or how much I’m contradicting myself? I realize that I said I have no faith in Tandon Doss, but Ozzie Newsome has already said he feels very confident in the young receivers. Of course, this could be a smoke screen, but even if it is, many of the elite receivers will be gone before the Ravens pick at 32. The Ravens can hope one falls to 32, but it’s not likely. There are still many great mid-round prospects like Marcus Wheaton and Ryan Swope, but does the need for a wide receiver outweigh needs in other areas? The Ravens are still looking for a great strong safety, inside linebacker depth, a true left tackle, and depth at the center position. If there was a position that would be pushed on the back-burner, it would likely be wide receiver.

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The Ravens Draft… a Pass-Rusher?

Adding a pass rusher would give the Ravens the ability to cut Terrell Suggs next year and relieve the cap quite a bit. On a side note, you may want to see a psychiatrist after reading that. You’re getting a little hysterical. In all honesty, though, adding a pass-rusher would not be a bad idea at all. The Ravens do have Pernell McPhee, Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, and Courtney Upshaw as pass rushers, but Dean Pees has emphasized that he will find a way to get the best players on the field at the same time. Imagine if the Ravens added a player like Cornelius “Tank” Carradine. Imagine Terrell Suggs and Pernell McPhee at defensive end, Haloti Ngata at defensive tackle, Tank Carradine and Elvis Dumervil at outside linebacker, and Courtney Upshaw at inside linebacker. I think opposing quarterbacks everywhere just got in the fetal position in a corner. If that line-up was on the field, opposing quarterbacks might as well just lay down. That would easily be the fiercest pass-rushing unit in the NFL, and it would drastically alleviate pressure on a secondary that is still fitting pieces together on the back end.

The draft will certainly be full of surprises, but how many surprises happen to the Ravens? We’ll just have to wait and see, but don’t say I didn’t warn you ahead of time.

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Keys to a Successful Playoff Run

The Capitals started off extremely slowly, but since March 17th, the Capitals have heated up and gone 13-3-1. They’re incredible eight game winning streak was stopped short by the Ottawa Senators, but they’re still in the driver’s seat in the Southeast division. To keep up their ride, they’ll want to follow these tips.

Keep Alex Ovechkin Involved:

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This seems like a kinda “Duh!” statement, especially when you consider that Alex Ovechkin is possibly the best player in the league, but for some reason, Ovechkin started the season in a very slow and poor manner. Recently, since March 17th, he’s really heated up, and non-surprisingly, it’s contributed to the massive success of the Capitals. During the Caps 13-3-1 run, Ovechkin has scored 18 goals and eight assists. In the first 28 games, Ovechkin had only scored ten goals and had 12 assists. Another not so surprising fact is that in all of the Caps wins, Ovechkin has scored a combined 24 goals. In the losses, he has only scored four. So, the formula is simple; let Alex Ovechkin be the center of your offense.

Continue to Let the Defense Shine:         

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While Alex Ovechkin may be the centerpiece of the offense, would the Caps be anywhere near first place if they weren’t receiving solid contribution from their defense? I’m going to have to say no.

The play of John Carlson and Mike Green has been extremely valuable to success of the Capitals. Currently, Carlson has 22 points and Green has 19 points. Carlson specifically has been an integral piece of the offense’s success. His ability to set up plays and feed passes for goals has been a major asset to the Capitals. On the season he has 16 assists. Not surprisingly, in wins, Carlson has been able to contribute 13 assists.

Mike Green, on the other hand, has been a little more on the scoring side of things. During the Caps 13-3-1 run, Green and Ovechkin had combined for 25 goals. To put things into perspective as to how impressive that is, consider that before the games played yesterday, Ovechkin and Green had combined for as many or more goals than the New Jersey Devils, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the St. Louis Blues. If the Caps can continue to keep these two hot, they’ll be coasting to victory.

Heating Up in the Net:

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All the offense in the world won’t mean anything if you can’t stop the other team from scoring. Luckily, the Capitals have two goalies who have been on fire since March 17th.

Since March 17th, Braden Holtby has been incredibly good. He’s had a record of 11-5, stopping 453 shots on 488 attempts on goal, good for a save percentage of 92.9% percent. Holtby needs to keep hot or the Caps may not be able to win it all. In losses, Holtby has had a save percentage of just 88.6% percent.

Luckily for the Caps, though, it seems as if Michal Neuvirth is starting to also heat up. He’s only started two games so far in April, but the Capitals won those two crucial games. He stopped 55 of the 59 shot attempts he faced, good for a 93.2% save percentage.  It must be comfortable for the Capitals to know that if Holtby should ever slow up, they have Neuvirth waiting in the wings.

If the Caps two young goalies start to falter at any point, the Caps playoff hopes will soon follow.

Following these three pieces of advice may seem easier said than done, but with the Caps have been playing as of late, they should be able to do it. They’ll need to until the playoffs because the Winnipeg Jets are hot on the heels of the Capitals. Keeping up the hot pace will be crucial to winning the third seed.

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Where Can the Orioles Improve the Most So Far?

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In 2012, the Orioles were the dream team of the MLB. They were supposed to win less than 70 games and be another non contender, but Buck Showalter and his club had other plans. Those plans including winning 93 games and beating out the Texas Rangers in a one game wildcard match-up. The miracle run would stop just short against the hated New York Yankees in the last game of the series.

For the Orioles to have any type of similar season to last year, they’re going to have to improve, but in what area do they need to improve the most? Pitching, starting and relief, was an area of concern at some time or another, but one thing really stood out when looking at the stats. It’s the inability of the Orioles deeper batting order, specifically the designated hitters, to get any sort of production.

Through 15 games this season, the Orioles designated hitters have had 57 plate appearances and a whopping five hits. They have drawn just six walks, managed one extra base hit, and one homerun. Prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, the Orioles didn’t even have a homerun.

The five hits in 57 appearances is good for a stunning .087 batting average. To put that into perspective, 20 teams have pitchers with better batting averages than the Orioles designated hitters. One could argue that it’s a small sample size thus far, but if you take only include teams who have pitchers with 30+ plate appearances, the Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, Phillies, Reds, Braves, and Cardinals all have pitchers with a higher combined batting average. The Orioles also ranked dead last among those teams in on base percentage and slugging percentage, prior to the game on Thursday.

For a team that is looking to repeat their success from last season, they aren’t doing so hot late in the order. The Orioles have a real host of great hitters in the one through five spots, but after that it starts to slowly go downhill to nothingness. The Orioles will need a strong showing from their batters, especially their designated hitters, if they are going to make another miracle run. If not, the Orioles will be sitting on the coach, again, like they had for the previous 15 years.

 

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Ravens Mock Draft: 2013 Edition

The NFL draft is exactly one week away. Fans are getting extremely excited to see who the new rookies on the block will be come next year. Many fans are also hoping that those new players can come in and play instantly. The Ravens are known for drafting extremely well, and with 12 picks this year, things should not be any different.

Round 1 (Pick 32): DeAndre Hopkins, WR: Clemson

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Many fans may be expecting the Ravens to take an inside linebacker with their first pick, but the recent signing of Rolando McClain and the moves of Bryan Hall and Albert McClellan to inside linebacker has bought the Ravens time. They could be looking for a safety or left tackle here, but the safety depth in the draft is incredible and there are no worthy left tackles left here.

I originally had the Ravens taking University of California receiver Keenan Allen because I thought that Hopkins wouldn’t be available, but upon further research, it appears as if “Nuke” will be available when the Ravens pick.

Hopkins has steadily improved every year until he finally blew up the ACC during his junior season. Hopkins caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. Despite the amazing numbers, the major knock on Hopkins is the fact that he isn’t big enough (6’1”, 214 pounds) or fast enough (4.57 second forty yard dash) to be a true number one receiver. As a number two receiver, though, Hopkins could dominate and become elite.

Hopkins shows incredible abilities in route running, which more than makes up for his lack of elite speed. He has amazing quickness in his cuts and sells fakes and double moves with terrific head movement and body control. He can run a full route tree in the short, intermediate, or deep passing game. His best game, though, may come over the middle in the short to intermediate range. He has incredible hands, even when the ball is in traffic. Hopkins doesn’t shy away from contact, and will watch the ball into his hands until it is securely in his chest range. He doesn’t wait for the ball to come to him, either. He takes every opportunity to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. When asked to run along the sidelines, Hopkins uses deceptive speed and amazing body control to keep himself in bounds and away from defenders.

One thing that really puts Hopkins over the top is that he is a nasty run defender. He doesn’t mind getting into a cornerbacks face and blocking them with tenacity. He could be frequently seen taking his man all the way to the ground, just to finish a block.

Simply put, DeAndre Hopkins is a faster, younger, more athletic version of Anquan Boldin. He may not fall all the way to the Ravens, but if he comes within 7-10 picks of the Ravens, expect the Ravens to pick up the phone and dial in for the Vikings who have two first round draft picks.

Round 2 (Pick 62): Terron Armstead, LOT: Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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I know most people are probably looking at this pick and thinking, “I’ve never even heard of that school…” Well, neither had I, but that didn’t stop me from thinking Terron Armstead could be the left tackle of the future.

Despite playing at a small school, Armstead did receive offers from larger Division I schools. He turned them down because he wanted to continue with track. Despite not playing at a big school, Armstead has the physical tools and athleticism to be a true, elite left tackle in the NFL. He’s got great size (6’5”, 306 pounds), great arm length (34’), and has some real quickness. Armstead ran the forty yard dash in 4.71 seconds and the 20 yard shuttle in 4.72 seconds.

On the field, that quickness and speed translates extremely well. Armstead has the speed and agility to mirror speed rushers off the edge. He also is extremely good about getting up the second level or pulling when asked. He’s an intelligent player who can sell screens, draws, and play actions with no problems. His real problem lies in three areas: His first is that while he may be great at getting to the second level, but when he gets there, he often looks out of place. The second is his hand placement. Armstead needs to be more consistent about where he uses his hands to block oncoming pass rushers. The last problem is an easy fix. He just isn’t as strong as he needs to be in the lower body. He can be driven back by the bigger rushers with a good bull rush. A full summer in the Ravens Under Armor Performance Center would shore that up, though.

If the Ravens were going to take Armstead, it would likely mean bringing McKinnie back on a one-year deal so that Armstead could learn and develop, considering he didn’t face the best competition in college. If all falls into place, though, Armsteads amazing skillset translates well and he is able to start from the first day on.

Round 3 (Pick 94): Jon Bostic, ILB: University of Florida

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Earlier I said that McClain and Bryan Hall could be stop gaps, and if they are, Jon Bostic would be the player they are helping to prepare.

Bostic was the leader of an extremely strong Gators defense, something that the Ravens could fall in love with. In addition to great leadership, Bostic is a tremendous player. He plays with a nonstop motor all over the field. He will always hustle to keep up with halfbacks and tight ends, and hustles to avoid giving up yards after the catch. He ran a great forty yard dash (4.61 seconds), and was a top performer in the three cone drill (6.99 seconds) and 20 yard shuffle (4.24 seconds), showing his ability to flip his hips and get into open field to cover. Despite the incredible athleticism, though, he still struggles when changing directions in the open field or when asked to chase down a player. When chasing a player, he’ll likely need help before he can make a play.

 He’s an absolute force when playing downhill to attack the run. When asked to attack the line of scrimmage, Bostic has shown the ability stack and shed offensive linemen to make plays when the ball carrier is moving in his direction. Even if he can’t get off his block, though, Bostic has shown the ability to stand up the lineman and hold his ground. When he’s untouched by a linebacker, Bostic has shown the ability to stand up fullbacks and make plays on the running back. Bostic is strong enough to bring down the best running backs in the game and pack a punch while he’s at it.

Bostic starts to show weaknesses with his over aggressive play. At times he can overrun the quarterback or over pursue the running back in the backfield and miss out on making a play. Bostic also tends to lead with his shoulder at times. Leading with the shoulder allows for more elusive backs to easily avoid the hit, or it allows better offensive lineman to quickly engulf him and take him out of the play.

If needed, Bostic could likely step in and contribute immediately as a MIKE linebacker, but if not, the Ravens should feel secure in allowing Bostic to play in a situational role for a year and taking over next year.

Round 4 (Pick 129): TJ McDonald, SS: University of Southern California

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The Ravens lost Bernard Pollard, who was a fan favorite, so why not draft a younger Bernard Pollard? One that likely won’t be as outspoken during his time in Baltimore.

McDonald is like Pollard in the sense that he is a player who can really lay down a hit on a receiver. Anytime a receiver is coming over the middle, they better look out or McDonald will lay them out flat by putting the full force of his shoulder into them. He form tackles running backs well and is a sure tackler in the box. He is also great about avoiding being blocked by offensive lineman, due to his long length. When asked to come up and make plays on the screen, he does an excellent job of fighting through the blocks to make a play. McDonald is extremely strong against the run when asked to come down from the two-high look. He flows down to the line of scrimmage and runs through alleys to make plays.

While he is an excellent run defender, like Pollard, McDonald lacks the ability to be a great cover safety over the top. He doesn’t have the necessary fluidity to turn and run with running backs and tight ends, and can be avoided in open space by quicker players. He can be caught looking into the backfield or be biting on double moves, and when that happens, it’s game over. McDonald doesn’t possess the necessary recovery speed to make up for those mistakes.

In the NFL, McDonald will almost exclusively be a box safety, but he’ll be a damn good one. The Ravens could opt to stick with Ihedigbo because of his range, but if they do, McDonald should be an excellent special teams player.

Round 4 (Pick 130): Chris Harper, WR: Kansas State   

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Despite drafting a receiver in the first and having Tandon Doss, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, and Tommy Streeter on the roster, I don’t think the Ravens would mind having another receiver on the roster, especially a receiver like Chris Harper. Harper would likely push the disappointing Doss and Reed for the fourth receiver spot.

Harper won’t jump out at you based on stats alone, but he could stand out based on film. What should stand out the most is that Harper is fairly large (6’1”, 226 pounds), but still fairly speedy (4.55 forty yard dash). Corners who look to jam him at the line of scrimmage run the risk of him blowing right by them and running down the sidelines. If you try to play off of him and cover the pass, he’ll likely just box you out with his large frame. In addition to being big and fast, Harper also has a very strong set of hands. He goes up to get the ball and has no problem fighting for it.

One of the bigger knocks is that he just isn’t very fluid. Despite being a fairly decent route runner, he won’t be an elite one because his hips are too stiff. This will make selling cuts and other intermediate routes difficult.

If the Ravens were to draft Harper, he would likely receive minimal playing time, but he would almost certainly be a better option for the fourth spot than what the Ravens have now.

Round 5 (Pick 165): Michael Williams, TE: University of Alabama

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I realize that the Ravens still have Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta on the roster, but neither can block to save their lives. Besides, the Ravens like to carry three tight ends, so why not get a decent blocker?

Williams played for some of the best rushing attacks in all the country at Alabama. He also faced off against SEC competition every week, so his blocking is extremely strong for a tight end. In a pinch, Michael Williams can provide a receiver, but he will never be an elite or true receiving threat. He wasn’t targeted a lot at Alabama, but he made the most of his opportunities.

If the Ravens were to select Michael Williams, he would likely fill in a role similar to the one that Chris Wilson held a few years ago.

Round 5 (Pick 168): Kwame Geathers, NT: University of Georgia

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The Ravens were so impressed with their first Gators pick that they’re coming back for more. This time, though, the Ravens will be taking a massive nose tackle to help stuff the run.

Geathers has a massive frame, which can be intimidating for blockers. When the ball is snapped, he shows great leverage and bursts off low and into the lineman. Due to great hand use, Geathers is often able to shed his man and get to the ball carrier to make a wrap up tackle. Even if he isn’t always able to shed the block, he uses his massive size and strength to effectively hold the point of attack and prevent running lanes from opening up.

The problem with Geathers is his inconsistency. While he can be a tremendous player when he gets low, he doesn’t always do that. At times, he plays too high and is easily pushed off the ball. Geathers also struggles to bend and correctly use his hands on cut blocks.

At this point in time, Geathers would likely only be a role player. He needs to learn better and more consistent technique, but if he is able to, he may be a great player against the run.

Round 6 (Pick 199): Kahled Holmes, C: University of Southern California

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Perhaps this pick is a bit too low, but with the rise of other centers and less than stellar play of Holmes during his senior season, the Ravens may have a back-up center on their roster in Holmes.

Holmes didn’t test well at the combine in movement drills, but he still moves well for a big man. He can consistently make his way into the second level and pull when asked to. His ability to move laterally would be a major asset to the Ravens in the zone blocking scheme. Holmes is also an extremely relentless player who always fights until the whistle.

The problem, though, is that he just isn’t strong enough. He lacks the leg strength to hold up against better defensive tackles and can be driven back. He also demonstrates poor technique at times, often sitting on his heels or not putting his hands in good places to block.

If the Ravens were to draft Holmes, he certainly wouldn’t be a starter, but he could be a decent back-up.

Round 6 (Pick 200): Keith Pough, ILB: Howard

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Rolando McClain is coming to the Ravens on a one-year deal, so drafting two inside linebackers may be in line for the Ravens.

Pough is a great chase and tackle type of linebacker. He moves extremely well in open space and can make the turn to move around the edge well. When asked to blitz, he shows the quickness needed to get the quarterback and make a play. He also shows good hand movement and strength when forced to throw a blocking running back to the side. He also shows good discipline in containment and is patient in waiting for the play to develop. When asked to drop into coverage, Pough was able to move well and play effectively in zone coverage.

What will keep Pough from going higher is the fact the he isn’t dominant when it comes to taking on blockers. He can be easily blocked out by offensive lineman and often requires a wide open lane to make a play.

Pough would likely only see the field in obvious passing situations, and even then his action would be limited, but he should be a decent role player in the future.

Round 6 (Pick 203): Xavier Nixon, LOT: University of Florida

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Like Khaled Holmes, this pick may be a little too low. Nixon has the potential to go in the fourth, but will likely go in the sixth because of inconsistencies. That could play into the Ravens hands and give the Ravens another backup left tackle.

Nixon is an extremely hit or miss prospect. He was the only tackle to truly shut down Jadaveon Clowny and Demontre Moore. Despite that, though, Nixon couldn’t keep it up for 16 games. All the tools are there. He is extremely tall (6’6”) and strong. He handles bull rushes well and can push back the defender when he drops his hips and keeps his hips churning.

Inconsistencies outweighed the bad for Nixon. He has the needed quickness to play left tackle, but is often beat by speed rushers to the inside or outside lanes. He also whiffs on his initial power punch and can be caught leaning too far. When he does lean, better defenders are able to rip past him and make a play. Even when he does get good initial contact, he will often surrender a play by not keeping up and finishing. Nixon would benefit from more strength training. He struggles to keep weight on and is a bit soft.

Drafting Nixon would be solely for depth purposes at this point. His technique is too poor to be anything more than a backup for the next few years. The potential and size is there to be a decent left tackle in the future.

Round 7 (Pick 238): Colby Cameron, QB: Louisiana Tech

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The Ravens already have their primary backup in Tyrod Taylor, but to be honest, if Joe Flacco were to go down, I would not trust Taylor for an entire season. He just does not have the necessary skills to be a great quarterback in the NFL.

Cameron, on the other hand, does have most of the skills required to be a good backup. He doesn’t have the amazingly large arm or range, but he has great accuracy. He can make most of the throws with decent accuracy and is pretty good when asked to push the ball outside the hashes. He is extremely smart and rarely ever makes mistakes with the football. During his senior season, he threw 31 touchdowns to just five interceptions.

Joe Flacco has been extremely durable thus far in his career, but if he were to go down, the Ravens would likely run into problems. It’s better to not risk having a capable backup, so Cameron seems like a smart choice.

Round 7 (Pick 247): Ryan Allen, P: Louisiana Tech

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The Ravens have a very capable punter in Sam Koch, but paying him $1.9 million dollars in base salary hardly seems worth it for a good, but not great, punter.

Allen had a stellar senior season. He has the longest average distance per punt (48 yards), longest net punt average (43 yards) and the longest punt on the season (85 yards). Over 40% of Allen’s punts dropped within the 20 yard line or went over 50 yards.

Allen would provide instant competition for Koch and might allow the Ravens to relieve themselves of Koch’s large salary.

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Could This Ravens Defense be Even Better in 2013?

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The Ravens weren’t exactly the best defense in the league during the 2012 season, but for some reason, people still seem to doubt that the Ravens will be any good during the 2013 season. After all, the Ravens did lose the 37 year old Ray Lewis and the soon to be 35 year old Ed Reed. They also lost Cary Williams, a corner back who gave up the second most first down and second most touchdowns in the league amongst corner backs. What about losing Paul Kruger? The very same player that only contributed 1.5 sacks while Terrell Suggs was out with injury. Surely the Ravens will be hurting without Dannell Ellerbe. Dannell Ellerbe was going to be the next Ray Lewis, despite never playing a full season and starting less than 16 games over the course of his entire career. And who could forget Bernard Pollard, the outspoken strong safety who couldn’t cover worth a lick and was good for one illegal hit a game. What in the world will the Ravens do without these players?

How about signing some new veterans? And how about instead of overpaying, the Ravens grab those players for a great value contract? Would that make the defense better? I’m going to have to say yes.

Instead of overpaying for all of the above players, the Ravens found cheap replacements who can do the job just as well, if not better. Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe both are no longer Ravens, leaving a void for the Ravens in the middle of the defense. It instantly sent the fans and media into a panic, but Ozzie Newsome and Dean Pees had a plan. Instead of panicking, they looked at their options. They decided that they would move Bryan Hall and Albert McClellan to inside linebacker. Bryan Hall was a college inside linebacker, but played defensive tackle in the NFL. McClellan was an outside linebacker for the Ravens in 2012, but he projects to be a much better inside linebacker. He has great coverage skills and can blitz with above average skill, making in a likely choice for the WILL linebacker spot. If that weren’t enough, the Ravens went out and signed Rolando McClain to a 1-year, $1.1 million dollar contract. The former eighth overall pick was a head-case for the Raiders and never lived up to his draft spot. That was in Oakland’s 4-3 defense, though. McClain played in a 3-4 defense in college, alongside many other college stars at Alabama. Asking him to transition to the 4-3 with a porous defensive line was a major mistake. Instead of asking the lineman to absorb blockers and allow the linebackers to flow to the running back, Oakland asked the linebackers to stack and shed the linebackers and make plays. When a typical linebacker can shed the block of a 310 lineman on a consistent basis, let me know. In the 3-4, McClain will have more help and will be able to flow freely to stop the run. On top of that, Nick Saban called McClain one of the smartest players he ever coached because of McClain’s ability to read the offense, call audibles, and put players in the correct spot. At the very least, the Ravens are getting a player with a ton of upside at a very low cost.

Despite addressing the needs at inside linebacker, the Ravens still had major holes at outside linebacker. The only real proven outside linebackers were Courtney Upshaw and Terrell Suggs. The Ravens should have just broken the bank for Paul Kruger, right?

How about the Ravens let the Browns do that, and instead, the Ravens will grab a more proven Elvis Dumervil for $5 million less. Does that sound like a good idea? When you consider that in six seasons, Dumervil has only finished with less than eight sacks one time, then it sounds like a fantastic idea. Throw in the fact that the majority of Dumervil’s sacks come off the left side of the defense and that Dumervil once led the league in sacks while playing the SAM linebacker position and it’s a dream come true. The Ravens will effectively be able to maximize the strengths of Dumervil and pair them with Terrell Suggs to form one of the most formidable pass rushes in the league. Even so, the Ravens still only really had three good outside linebackers, and that clearly isn’t enough. Does Ozzie panic? No, instead, he moves Pernell McPhee to the RUSH linebacker position to maximize the potential explosiveness of McPhee. McPhee played defensive end, but only weighed 280 pounds, so he was a bit on the small side. McPhee is slimming down, but it seems like a great fit for McPhee to maximize his great athleticism and movement abilities. With McPhee moving to linebacker, the Ravens formed a very strong linebacker rotation.

Moving McPhee and Hall to linebacker was a major mistake, though. Now, the already weak Ravens’ defensive line just got weaker. What was Ozzie thinking?

How about that the Ravens’ defensive line has actually been getting very crowded after the signings of Chris Canty and Marcus Spears. Chris Canty was a career defensive tackle and will likely play defensive end in the Ravens 3-4 scheme. Marcus Spears played in the 3-4 defense as a defensive end. Both pride themselves on their ability stuff the run, although, Canty can provide a pass rush when necessary. Both of these signings may seem a bit overrated by the way Ravens fans are acting, but when you consider that Haloti Ngata will now be able to play nose tackle, Ravens fans have a reason to rejoice. Nose tackle was the weakest position on the entire roster last year, but now it can turn into the strongest because of two very underrated signings. The Ravens now feature a massive, run stuffing front that will allow the linebackers to freely flow and make plays.

Despite all this, the secondary is still a major hole, right?

 I mean, the not-so-ageless Ed Reed darted in free agency and Bernard Pollard was released. Plus the Ravens let Cary Williams walk. Surely the Ravens must be weaker there. Well, not exactly. The Ravens replaced Ed Reed with Michael Huff. Many people might be saying, “Are you serious?” Yes, and in fact, I believe Huff will be better than Reed. In 2012, Reed missed 21 tackles and was frequently a non-factor in the running game. His presence was still felt on the back-end, but not nearly as much as in the past. Over the past three years, Huff has missed 18 tackles and shown the versatility to play free safety and corner back. In 2010, Michael Huff was an All-Pro free safety and had a very “Reed-like” season. The Ravens won’t likely get that type of season out of Huff, but they’ll likely get an upgrade over Reed. Even so, that’s only one player that’s being replaced. How can you replace Bernard Pollard, a fan favorite? How about with another very underrated safety? James Ihedigbo has never been a super star strong safety, but he was good enough to hold his own when Pollard was out with injury. Ihedigbo is actually a fairly decent strong safety. He doesn’t hit as hard as Pollard, but he has shown better range and coverage ability. If the Ravens don’t feel comfortable with Ihedigbo as the starter, they’ll likely look to draft one, considering there’s a large amount of depth amongst starting quality strong safeties. With that taken care of, what about Cary Williams? First, let me say that was not a loss at all. Let me say that was a blessing for the Ravens. Then, let me proceed to say two words: Lardarius Webb. One of the best cover corners in the league, Webb is coming of an ACL tear that kept him out for most of the season. His rehab has been coming along very well and it looks as if he’ll be back to form. That’s news that will make opposing quarterbacks very unhappy. Across from Webb, the Ravens have Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham fighting for a spot. The Ravens actually look to have one of the better corner back trios in the NFL.

What about the veteran leadership? Reed and Lewis were the consummate leaders in Baltimore. How will the Ravens survive?

I’ll agree that Lewis was an amazing leader and one that will be missed. He was the greatest leader ever, but players like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and others all had a chance to learn from him. They can help fill the void. The Ravens also brought in Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, and Michael Huff. All three are veterans who will be leaders. As for Reed, he was not exactly the leader people may like to believe. He was rarely seen in the pre-game huddles and was known for his very outspoken comments, such as calling out Joe Flacco before the 2011 AFC Championship Game and saying he could see himself playing for Bill Belichick before the Super Bowl. Those untimely comments are nothing, however, compared to the near mutiny that Reed almost caused when he openly opposed Harbaugh telling the players they would practice in pads. At what point do you question the coach? Never. Apparently comments like those were a near regular in the locker room. If anything, the Ravens may have gained a more positive atmosphere without Ed Reed.

So did the Ravens get any better on defense? Will the Ravens be better on defense in 2013?

Instead of sticking it out with players who were aging or who weren’t playing up to par, the Ravens did the smart thing and let them walk or released them. They may have been fan favorites, but they obviously were not the best option for the Ravens, otherwise the Ravens would have held onto them. The Ravens then opted to sign some new faces at the right price. It’s a plan that has worked for the Ravens since their beginning in 1996. Fans shouldn’t doubt Ozzie now. This defense will be better than it was in 2012, and will finish in the top 10.

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Good Thing Fans Are Only Couch General Managers

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It has been a crazy first three days to begin free agency, and it has left emotions running high for fans of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have traded Anquan Boldin, let Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe walk, and have released Bernard Pollard. The only positive move for the Ravens this offseason has been letting Cary Williams walk.

With all these emotional moves happening, fans are crying out for Ozzie Newsome to be fired and saying that the Ravens will finish the season 4-12. It is these types of statements that make me, as a fan, glad to know that those other fans are not actual general managers, but rather, just couch general managers.

What fans do not seem to realize, or remember, is that the Ravens are accustomed to making tough moves. Remember the 2011 season? The Ravens released Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Willis McGahee, and Kelly Gregg. Heap and Mason were Flacco’s go to receiver and tight end. Who was going to replace them? Heap would be replaced by two second year tight ends that had only caught two combined passes in their career, and Mason was going to be replaced by Lee Evans for two games before being replaced by rookie Torrey Smith. Gregg was going to be replaced by second year nose tackle Kelly Gregg. McGahee was released, but he was a backup to Rice, so it was not as big of a problem. The question remained, though, as to whether Rice would be a true goal-line back. The most touchdowns Rice had scored in a single season was seven, and in three years before McGahee’s departure, Rice had only scored 12 rushing touchdowns.

How did that season turnout? In Torrey Smith’s first game as a starter, he came out and scored three touchdowns on his first three career touchdowns. He would finish the season with 841 yards and seven touchdowns. Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson combined for over 900 yards and eight touchdowns. Terrance Cody helped to anchor a top ten rush defense on the year. Ray Rice went on to rush for a career high in yards and touchdowns, scoring 12 touchdowns, while proving to be more than capable of being a goal-line back.

The Ravens went on to the AFC Championship Game, only to come up short because of a Billy Cundiff missed field goal, but the Ravens still made a deep run into the playoffs. They were missing some of their most important pieces, but the Ravens proved they could overcome it, and this does not look to be any different this season.

The Anquan Boldin trade is one that had most fans screaming for Ozzie Newsome’s job. Boldin was coming off one hell of a postseason and was clearly Joe Flacco’s favorite target throughout the magical postseason run. Why would the Ravens trade him? Father time. Anquan Boldin was going to be 33 before the season started. He was already struggling to gain separation from corner backs, so as time progressed, it just stood to reason that Boldin would find it increasingly more difficult. With all that in mind, Boldin’s salary cap hit of $7.5 million was just way too much to handle. By trading Boldin, the Ravens were able to net a draft pick and save money.

Losing Paul Kruger may seem like a big problem because of his high sack total last season, but that does not mean he was worth breaking the bank over. It is worth noting that Paul Kruger has only made SIX starts over the course of a four year career. The Ravens tried to put Kruger into a starting role this season while Terrell Suggs was out, but he could not hold the job, eventually losing the job to Courtney Upshaw. The reason for this? Paul Kruger was ranked as one of the worst run defenders in the entire league from the outside linebacker position. He could not set the edge due to small size, and he was often finding himself too far up the field on running plays. It should also be noted that Paul Kruger only notched 1.5 sacks while Terrell Suggs was out. It was not until the Ravens defenders started getting healthy that Paul Kruger came on strong. He has a relentless motor and a full array of pass rushing moves, but that does not matter if you cannot do it consistently. When teams were able to double team Kruger and treat him as the number one guy, he was not nearly as good. The Browns are paying Kruger to be the number one guy and they will likely be disappointed.

Dannell Ellerbe was supposed to be the Ravens top free agent priority, but within just a few hours, Ellerbe was off to Miami, making roughly $7 million dollars a year. Ellerbe had really cashed in big time, but was it really worth it? Over the course of four years, Ellerbe only made 14 career starts. Those starts came due to injury, not because Ellerbe had earned the job or proven that he was a top notch linebacker. Ellerbe is no doubt an amazing blitzing linebacker, but in a passing league like today’s, Ellerbe has proven that he was not up to the challenge of covering when necessary. He has good sideline to sideline speed, but his ability to turn and run with his man left much to be desired. With the money the Dolphins are paying Ellerbe, they should be expecting him to be a full time starter and be able to do everything well, which just is not the case. Like Kruger, Ellerbe got massively overpaid.

Former Ravens linebackers seem to struggle greatly after they leave Baltimore. Ed Hartwell, Adalius Thomas, Jim Leanord, and Bart Scott all failed to play as well as they had in Baltimore after they left.

The Bernard Pollard release was one of the most puzzling to fans because the Ravens are only going to save $1 million dollars by releasing Pollard. Pollard was a fan favorite, and he played like a Raven when he was on the field. He was always looking for the big hit and had no problems with knocking a player out when he was able to. There are two possible explanations for his release: 1. Bernard Pollard was one of the most outspoken players in the league. He could often be heard because he called out the new safeties rules and said he was not going to change the way he played. With the way Pollard plays, it was almost guaranteed that he would be suspended during the 2013 season. Why pay for a player who cannot play a full season due to suspension? 2. Pollard is actually not a good safety when it comes to defending the pass. He does not read passing plays well and often lets the receiver gets over the top. This would often lead to big plays. With Ed Reed leaving, this was clearly going to be a problem. With Reed around, Pollard could play in the box while Reed covered the entire backend of the field. With no Reed, Pollard would be asked to play more in coverage and be exposed.

The one positive move was allowing Cary Williams to go the Eagles. Cary Williams was one of the most despised players in Baltimore because of his lack of ball skills and tendency to give the receivers huge cushions underneath. All of this led to Williams giving up the second most first downs and second most touchdowns in the entire league for cornerbacks. When the team as a whole is giving up some of the fewest passing touchdowns in the league, and you are giving up the second most passing touchdowns in the league at your position, there is a major problem. Fans were extremely happy to see Williams go, especially since Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham are still on the roster.

Fans seem to get so caught up on those moves that they do not seem to realize that Ozzie Newsome is already signing more value players. Newsome has signed former Giant Chris Canty and former Cowboy Marcus Spears. Newsome made it very clear that beefing up the defensive line would be a priority. Canty will likely be the new starting nose tackle, and Spears brings in a veteran who can really clog up the running game. If Canty does not start at nose tackle, he could possibly start as defensive end and push Haloti Ngata to the inside to play nose tackle. Either way, the Ravens seem to be well on their way to making sure that their run defense is much better than 2012’s rush defense.

Fans also need to realize that the Ravens currently have eight draft picks and will likely receive another four compensatory picks because of free agents they lost in 2012. Ozzie Newsome is one of the best in the business as drafting players. Of the 53 players on the Ravens roster in 2012, 36 of them were either drafted or originally signed by the Ravens. With 12 draft picks, Newsome will definitely be able to find players to be step up and take over for the lost and departed. Do not draft the Wizard of Oz.

There is a reason that Ozzie Newsome is the actual general manager and that fans are only cough general managers. Ravens fans are in good hands with Ozzie Newsome at the helm. Just remember, “In Ozzie we trust.” 

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Boldin: Take a Pay Cut or Be Cut

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It was reported that the Ravens almost cut Boldin on Friday, but decided to take a step back and continue to pursue contract negotiations to lower the salary of Boldin. Boldin is due $6 million in 2013 and will carry a cap hit of roughly $7.5 million. If the Ravens cut him, they will save all of the $6 million from his salary, bringing the Ravens salary cap number to $18.5 million under.
The news may come at a surprise to some, due to Boldin’s heroics in the postseason. He caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns, including one touchdown in the Super Bowl. He proved to be extremely valuable in the postseason, but the regular season was a different story. During the regular season, Boldin had 65 receptions for 921 yards and four touchdowns, his best season in a Ravens’ uniform. In 2012, he only recorded one game with over 100 yards and had six games in which he failed to even reach 50 yards. He also only caught touchdown passes in three games during the regular season. Is that the type of production the Ravens want to pay for? Is it really that wrong for him to take a pay cut? Roddy White and Larry Fitzgerald, Boldin’s former teammate, are both making less than Boldin, despite being vastly superior players. Fitzgerald failed to post better stats than Boldin, but he also had Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley throwing him the ball.
It is really not a bad idea to ask Boldin to take a pay cut. He is making a decent amount of money that could be used to make the team as a whole better. The Ravens are not trying to disrespect Boldin by asking him to take a pay cut, but do five good games really constitute $6 million a year? I know people will instantly point to Joe Flacco’s contract situation, but Flacco is a quarterback, and with no quarterback, the receiver is nothing, as proven by Larry Fitzgerald.
Many people seem to disagree with me, though, and have not let their emotions hide. Here are some of the best comments as seen by the couch GM’s all over the internet:
“This is an absolute disgrace!! Asking the one guy most responsible for the playoff run to
take a pay cut!!”: Okay, the one guy responsible? Did you forget about Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones? Torrey Smith torched Champ Bailey for two touchdowns against Denver, something Boldin could not do in the first match-up. Do the Ravens beat the Broncos without Torrey Smith’s touchdowns? What about Jacoby Jones return touchdown against the 49ers to start the half. The Ravens likely do not win the Super Bowl without it. How about his two 50+ yard touchdowns? The Ravens do not even go into overtime without Jones making a last second touchdown grab against the Broncos, and his touchdown against the 49ers helped to separate the score even more. Better thought to consider: Do the Ravens make it to the playoffs without Jacoby Jones? He scored two vital return touchdowns that were the differences in games: He returned a punt, the only score in the game, against the Pittsburgh Steelers and returned a kick against the Dallas Cowboys. Both games were decided by less than a touchdown. If the Ravens lost those two games, they’re not in the playoffs. What is even better is that Jones is only carrying a cap hit of $4 million dollars and has expressed willingness to lower that cap hit just to stay on the Ravens.
“Flacco himself should come up with a couple of million of his overpayment to come to “Q”s aid.”: It is true that Flacco’s contract looks like a huge one, but in reality, it is really not all that bad. He is only guaranteed $52 million dollars and is carrying a cap hit of $7 million dollars. For those of you who are bad with numbers, that cap hit is less than Boldin’s. Flacco’s contract is not the problem at all, and Flacco actually back-loaded his contract to help keep Boldin. Flacco did his part to keep his numbers down, but if Boldin will not do the same, then what can we do?
“Cut WR Doss and Dave Reed (not Ed) to keep Q. They’ve been pretty useless and hurt.”: Correct me if I am wrong, and I do not believe that I am, but David Reed is a free agent already, so the Ravens cannot cut him. Doss is still on his rookie contract, and cutting him would only save like 400k. Doss was handpicked by Flacco to be Boldin’s replacement. He has had the opportunity to learn behind Boldin, so maybe it is time for him to see the field. We cannot say for sure that he is or is not ready, but we can say for sure that cutting Doss would not “help keep ‘Q’”.
“Every year we hear about how great Ozzie and the front office are. But they have honestly dropped the ball on this one.”: Oh, you have a crystal ball and can see that the Ravens will be hurting without Boldin? Sarcasm aside, are you really going to question Ozzie? This is the same guy that let Jarrett Johnson and Ben Grubbs walk in free agency last year, and the Ravens still won the Super Bowl. I remember hearing similar comments when the Ravens cut Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, and Willis McGahee. People were saying that Flacco would go downhill and be the worst QB in the league because he did not have his two go to targets, but the Ravens responded by going to the AFC Championship Game. They came within a dropped touchdown pass of going and were a missed field goal away from tying the game. Tough moves have to be made every year, but Ozzie knows what he is doing. He is the best general manager in football and has a real knack for making things run smoothly.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Ravens will hurt without Anquan Boldin. He was an extremely vital piece to the Ravens Super Bowl puzzle, but his play has not warranted his pay. He has yet to reach 1000 yards for the Ravens and is not even the go to target in the red zone, as both Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta finished with more touchdowns than Boldin. Anquan was a great player, but he cannot be selfish if he wants to stay with the team. It surprises me that he said that he would rather retire than play for another team and that playing was not about the money. That no longer seems to be what he stands by, and if it is not, then so be it- the Ravens are in a good place to move on. They could also use the money to find a good left tackle, or retain longtime favorite, Ed Reed. Do not doubt the Ravens’ front office. They can turn this loss into a positive, if it must happen.

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Joe Flacco Inks a New Deal

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Every single Ravens fan knew it was coming. It was inevitable, especially after Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl MVP. Flacco was going to get paid whether fans liked it or not.

On Saturday, it was reported that Joe Flacco was going to receive a deal worth $120.6 million dollars over the course of six years with $52 million guaranteed. The contract would make Flacco the highest paid player per season. It topped Drew Brees deal by just $100 thousand per year.

The deal may look like an extremely unfair one for the Ravens, but if you take a little time to examine the contract as a whole, it actually really benefits the Ravens and Flacco. It is a good thing for Flacco because it proves the amount of trust the Ravens have in Flacco and also shows they have a great deal of respect for him. It is a great deal for the Ravens because in 2013, the salary cap will on be $6.9 million dollars. That allows the Ravens to have over $11 million left in cap space and could allow them to keep Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones on the roster, and it could help the Ravens to resign Dannell Ellerbe.

 In 2014, that number will jump to just over $14 million and just over $20 million in 2015. By that time, though, the salary cap is expected to have spiked a great deal. After that, the deal becomes a little less reasonable with cap hits of just over $28 million, $34 million, and $24 million. I know most people will be looking at those numbers and go, “Why the hell would the Ravens pay that much?” The answer is simple: They will not. This deal was structured to be a three year deal that the Ravens could revisit in three years. If they are happy with Flacco, they extend him to lower the salary cap hit. If they are unhappy with Flacco, they cut him. It is unlikely that the Ravens will be unhappy with Flacco, so this deal was really meant to set Flacco up to be the long-term quarterback for the next decade, even if the deal is only for six years.

It may look like a crazy deal, especially for a quarterback who has not thrown for 30 touchdowns or 4000 yards, but it really is not that crazy. Flacco earned the respect he deserves and the Ravens allowed themselves to remain competitive on the free agent market. It is a win for both sides and it should not be looked at as one of the biggest blunders in sports history, which is what most fans seem to be calling it (largely due in part to the fact that they only look at the surface instead of diving deep into the details). Instead, it should be looked at as one of the many great moves that Ozzie Newsome has orchestrated over the years.

 

 

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