The NFL Draft is over and the experts will spend the next few months analyzing and grading the league’s 32 teams before kickoff in September. Many are have graded the Ravens highly for their picks this year and the organization has been outspoken about about their confidence in their picks.
Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta told Mike Duffy of BaltimoreRavens.com that the draft fell “the right way” for the team. “We had some positions that we felt we needed to address to make ourselves a better team, and really good players fell down to us – players that we really felt could help this team,” DeCosta said.
DeCosta’s quote confirms a theory that I have had about the Ravens war room in recent years, it’s my belief that Ozzie Newsome and company have shifted their draft strategy from best player available to find good players that fill their needs.
With their first pick this season, Baltimore attempted to trade down, but after a snag in the trade with the Bears, the team elected to instead draft Colorado Cornerback Jimmy Smith. What does this say about how much the Ravens really wanted Smith? If the team was trying to trade down, how excited were they really to draft him? If Baltimore’s intentions were to take Smith, not only are they taking another player with a number of red flags in college, but are drafting for need. One of the Ravens weakest parts of their team in recent seasons has been has been their secondary, especially after Domonique Foxworth was sidelined for all of 2010 with a torn ACL.
In round two, the Ravens addressed another weak part of their roster in wide receiver by selecting Terp alum Torrey Smith. He’s a guy with a clean background, but clearly drafted according to need with Donte Stallworth and T.J. Houshmandzadeh likely leaving as free agents.
To replace free agent Marc Bulger, who could land a starting job this season, Baltimore selected quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round. A guy that told the media he’s “the most dynamic quarterback in the draft.”
In round seven Willis McGahee was replaced, should he decide to leave as a free agent, with power back Anthony Allen from Georgia Tech.
All in all, it was a solid draft for the Ravens as an organization. I am just wondering if their priorities have changed in the war room from drafts in recent years. It appears that the Ravens are no longer taking the best player available to them at their slot, but instead looking to take the best player to fit a hole in the roster.