Friday, March 28, 2008

Matt Ryan is a Raven if....

Musa Smith is still looking for a place of employment and given the Ravens lack of depth at the position and Smith’s familiarity with the team’s personnel, you have to pause and wonder why the Ravens haven’t re-signed the former Georgia Bulldog. Currently the team has three running backs on the roster: Willis McGahee, Cory Ross and P.J. Daniels. That is dangerously thin.

Some believe that Cory Ross could be a decent change of pace back considering his performance against the Steelers in the ’07 finale. Don’t count me among those sipping the Ross Koolaid. The Steelers had little to play for in that last game and Ross played like a man looking to save his career. Ross also was the beneficiary of being a player with fresh legs going up against tired, beaten and unmotivated ones.

P.J. Daniels’ first two seasons have been marred by injury although one certainly has to wonder if the ’07 hamstring injury was really damaging enough to shelve him for the season or if his stint on IR was simply a roster move much like that of Tony Pashos in ’03 when he sat out with a hand injury the entire season. To say that Daniels is unproven would be an understatement.

So why not bring back Musa Smith particularly in light of Mike Anderson’s release? Word is that Smith hasn’t been the same player after that neck injury against the Titans in '06 and he didn’t hit the holes the way he did earlier that season. Look for the Ravens to bring in a discarded veteran for a look some time after the draft or pick one up in the draft by Day 2. They might even do both. Clearly they don’t want to be in the position they were in back in 2001 when Jamal Lewis was lost for the season during the first week of training camp and they were forced to turn to the scrap heap that included a washed up Terry Allen and an overweight Jason Brookins.

Fans at times can easily forget that off the field personal matters can become distractions even to the most focused of athletes. Last season Mark Clayton by nearly everyone’s account had a disappointing season. Look for the promising wide receiver to bounce back and put up the numbers in ’08 that most expected last season. That said, with Devard Darling’s departure, Yamon Figurs’ inexperience, Demetrius Williams’ slight frame and Clayton’s history of nagging injuries, many expect the Ravens to take a shot at a wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft.

The Ravens more than likely will take a shot at Matt Ryan if he is still on the board at No. 8. Many have suggested that if the Falcons and Chiefs pass on the BC signal caller he could fall into the Ravens’ lap. But don’t rule out the possibility of a team trading up to No. 7 where the Patriots currently sit, courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers. Wouldn't Bill Belichick love to give the bird to the NFL brain trust that took away the Patriots’ own first round pick and parlay the pick from the Niners into multiple picks? That said, the Patriots are in need of a corner and most expect them to fill that need with the No. 7 pick. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be lured out of that pick by a team like the Panthers who have the 13th overall pick or quarterback hungry Jon Gruden who sits at No. 20 with Tampa.

But then again, don’t be shocked if the Ravens gamble and trade down from No. 8 even if Matt Ryan is on the board particularly if USC’s Sedrick Ellis is still available. Behind the Ravens at Nos. 9-12 are the Bengals, Saints, Bills and Broncos. Each of those teams are set at quarterback and it could be argued that all of them could use Sedrick Ellis. Would Ozzie be that gutsy and risk losing Ryan?

Ryan is no sure bet but some scouts believe he has the frame to put on muscle without it negatively affecting his finely tuned mechanics. That could help to improve upon his above average arm strength, much like Tom Brady has done in the NFL. Brady was very lanky and fairly poorly conditioned while exiting Michigan. As a pro he has improved his velocity with a training regimen that in part was designed to do exactly that.


Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 3/30/2008
Very good analysis of the Ravens choices with the up coming draft. Based on the lack luster performance that the Baltimore Orioles gave vs the Nationals last nite, I don't think that the RAVENS will have any trouble pushing the ORANGE BIRDS off the front page, with every off season move that they Make.
IMHO---Shoot the works... Go For Broke and get Matt Ryan. I do not think that RYAN will turn into a REDMAN if he is wearing purple next fall.
Again, great analysis.