Monday, January 31, 2011

The Recipe for a 5 Star Ravens' Offseason

Who knows when a new CBA will be struck? My guess is that the owners who clearly have all the leverage here will exert a little muscle and weaken the union and the union’s impression of DeMaurice Smith. Eventually they will stumble upon labor peace and have a new CBA in place sometime in May. And that changes the way the offseason is managed by teams.

Will teams now draft more for need and then fill in with free agents later or will most focus on the best player available and fill in for need through free agency? You can count on the Ravens going with the later approach and having the draft before free agency just might work to the Ravens’ strengths.

With this in mind, the Ravens offseason priorities from my vantage point are (in order of importance):

1. Bookend pass rusher to pair with Terrell Suggs: The Ravens can’t hold their collective breath hoping for Sergio Kindle’s cranium to strengthen to the point of being able to withstand the collisions of the NFL. They also can’t keep hoping for Paul Kruger to develop some consistency. A tag team edge rusher makes the Ravens secondary better and they’ll likely force more turnovers and win the battles for field position.

2. Offensive tackle: I’m not one to conclude that Michael Oher can’t handle left tackle. I think a predictable offense makes his job more difficult. That said, the Ravens need to find another tackle in the draft and third or fourth round projects like Oniel Cousins or David Hale are unacceptable. Convincing a motivated Jared Gaither to give it one more try is a worthy effort.

3. Speed at WR: The Ravens need to find their own Mike Wallace and that is a challenge for an organization that has failed consistently in identifying talent at the position. Back in 2000 they burned a first round pick on Travis Taylor (10) and passed on more productive players like Laveranues Coles (78) and Darrell Jackson (80) and in 2005 they opted for Mark Clayton (22) and passed on Roddy White (27) and Vincent Jackson (61). Stiffs like Devard Darling and Marcus Smith (both 3rd round picks) won’t cut it either.

4. Inside LB: Inconsistency plagues the Ray Lewis sidekick flavor of the day (Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden) and that has to change, particularly as the end draws nearer for No. 52.

5. Safety: Dawan Landry had an up and down season in 2010; Haruki Nakamura is too small to be a strong safety and Tom Zbikowski isn’t dependable. The Ravens could use a more consistent enforcer to pair with Ed Reed.


Jerry B said...

Almost agree with all of your "recipe" except when it comes to a "motivated" Gaither. He wasn't motivated in college, hasn't been motivated in the pros, is not likely to be motivated.....EVER and, either he is injury prone or just plain unreliable. From every aspect, he's no longer a worthy of consideration.......