Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bye, Bye Bulger?

Draft Day Musings...

Many have suggested that the Ravens should use the No. 26 pick in the draft to select an offensive lineman. And while they clearly have a need there, don’t bet on them spending a first round pick to beef up the wall protecting Joe Flacco.

The Ravens moved up in the 2009 draft to get Michael Oher and they did so because they envisioned him as a long-term solution at left tackle. You don’t burn a high pick if you don’t expect the player to be with the team for a long time and you also don’t burn two first round picks on offensive tackles to build bookends. The salary cap structure (which will be in play again with any new CBA) just doesn’t afford teams the luxury of having two highly paid tackles.

Character is always an issue but some teams are willing to take the risk. The Ravens could be one of them if Colorado CB Jimmy Smith is on the board at No. 26. Chris McAlister wasn’t a choir boy and other character issue guys passed by have gone on to establish Hall of Fame careers. I wonder if the Vikings or the Buccaneers are disappointed in their picks of Randy Moss and Warren Sapp.

Some college scouts believe that there is a big drop off in this draft late in the first round to about the 40th pick. Then the talent level plateaus for about 30 picks. With that in mind, if the Ravens get offers for the 26th pick and they aren’t in love with whoever may still be there, they will happily accept an offer similar to that of Denver’s in last year’s draft for the Ravens’ No. 25 overall. Then the Ravens received the 43rd, 70th and 114th overall picks.

A trade up isn’t inconceivable for the Ravens. If for example a player ranked in the Top 15 on their board begins to free fall, don’t be surprised if they move up as they did in 2009 to get their guy. In ’09 the Ravens climbed the board threes spots from 26 to 23 to take Oher. To get there the Ravens happily sacrificed a fifth round pick to the New England Patriots.

Word is the Ravens might consider a quarterback in the ’11 draft. But if they do, don’t expect that quarterback to fill the soon-to-be ex-Raven Marc Bulger’s shoes. More than likely the Ravens will carry 3 QB’s if Bulger leaves as expected and that places some pressure on the 53 man roster. It is unlikely a team such as the Ravens with Super Bowl aspirations will enter the 2011 campaign with just a rookie clipboard carrier. Look for a journeyman vet to enter the mix.