I think it was Tedy Bruschi who stated early this morning that rounds 4 through 7 is where a team’s scouting deparment earns its money. If that is the case, then the Ravens scouts, often considered some of the best in the NFL, will find out whether they earned their paper today. It is during the later rounds of the NFL Draft that teams can maybe find a diamond in the rough, perhaps a future star (remember, Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick-we all know how that has worked out) or add depth or special teams contributors. After two prime-time showcases to make three rounds of draft picks, the NFL Draft moved to its third and final day to complete the last four rounds. The Ravens had four additional draft picks in their pockets, and given the movement and excitement of the first two days, it would surprise no one if one or more of the picks ended up in a trade either for a player or for additional picks. However, the team kept the picks and made additional selections to address depth issues at certain positions.
For the team’s first pick on Day 3, the Ravens added another tight end to their collection of picks by taking Dennis Pitta from BYU. This picks seems somewhat puzzling, considering the choice of Ed Dickson of Oregon the round before, but with Todd Heap aging and no real depth at the position (don’t give me L.J. Smith please), the pick gives the Ravens two young pass-catching tight ends on the roster. While both Dickson and Pitta have to work on their blocking skills, there isn’t any doubt from talent evaluators about either pick’s pass-catching skills. A concern with Pitta is that he will have to learn how to release from the line of scrimmage in a three point stance; he often set up in a two point stance in college.
In the fifth round, the Ravens had two picks. Their first pick of the fifth round was David Reed, a WR from Utah. With the Ravens’ recent moves at the position, you figure this pick will either compete for a special teams spot or serves as a message (along with the TE picks) to Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams. I think the former is the more likely option, as Reed probably will have a hard time seeing the field at receiver. The second pick in the round was Art Smith, a defensive tackle from Syracuse. Smith was projected as a second round pick going into his senior season, but fell due to a knee injury and surgery. He projects as an interior defensive lineman who can get upfield to get after the quarterback. If he makes the team, he will need work on rush moves to succeed at the pro level.
For the Ravens final pick, the team chose an offensive tackle project in Ramon Harewood. The sixth-round pick from Barbados has only played four years of football, but made 30 starts at Morehouse and has great size (6’7″, 360 lbs.). He is a very raw prospect and will need time to develop if indeed he is to stick with the team; but the Ravens may feel he has the tools and the upside to help the team down the road.
Many Ravens fans will find this year’s draft successful overall; but will once again quibble with the team for leaving a position of need unaddressed. Last season, the Ravens failed to pick a wide receiver; this year the team failed to land a cornerback in the draft. Just as last year, Ozzie Newsome addressed the failure to choose a player in a position of need by putting his faith in the players he has chosen and those on the roster. He offered that if the defense gets after the quarterback better, then the play in the secondary won’t have to be lights out. I’m certain that there will be some additional bodies signed, if for no other reason than the fact that Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb may not be 100% heading into camp. I would also have liked the Ravens to have found a safety; Ed Reed isn’t getting any younger and may be season-to-season as to how much longer he plays; it is time to find and develop his replacement.