Let’s travel back in time — it’s Friday May 9, 2014. Like many NFL fans, I was huddled on my couch watching the second day of the NFL Draft. The third round had arrived and I had only one thing on my mind: the Baltimore Ravens NEEDED to draft Terrance West.
In 2013, West, the running back from Towson University (of which I am a proud alum), simply dominated FCS competition; propelling the Tigers to the Championship Game and elevating his name onto NFL draft boards across the league. West was a no-doubt professional prospect with draft pundits pegging him as a late third round pick.
The Ravens, coming off a disappointing 2013, were in need of a running back due to the ineffectiveness of the overall unit and Ray Rice‘s domestic assault incident which has now culminated in his release from the team. With two third round picks (the 79th overall and 99th overall) the Ravens seemed primed to grab the local star and make West part of the solution to their running woes.
Invigorated by Towson’s amazing season, I was beyond excited by my first real chance to have a true star from my alma mater do the same for my favorite professional football team. The stars seemed to be aligning for what seemed to be a match made in heaven.
Finally, the Ravens made their first pick of the round:
“The Baltimore Ravens select Terrence….Brooks, Safety, Florida State.”
After some choice words were shouted into the night, I quickly collected myself. Brooks was a good prospect and one I had wanted the Ravens to grab, as they also had a need at safety. With another pick later in the round, West could still be a Raven.
As the end of the round approached, West remained on the board and I got even more anxious for the Ravens to pick. The dream I had had for months was about to be realized.
Then disaster struck.
The Cleveland Browns acquired the 30th pick of the round and 94th overall from the 49ers and with that pick they broke my heart:
“The Cleveland Browns select Terrance West, Running Back, Towson”
Don’t get me wrong. I was fully prepared for West to be playing for a team other than the Ravens. I even contemplated the idea of whether I would sport another team’s jersey to support my fellow Tiger.
But not a division rival. Not the Browns. Not five picks in front of where I assume the Ravens would have picked West.
More choice words were shouted into the night and, despite a draft class that I believe will prove to be excellent, not drafting Terrance West will forever be my takeaway from the 2014 Draft. Even worse is that not drafting West looks like it may really come back to bite the Ravens.
I think we can all agree that the Ravens completely blew it with their handling of the Ray Rice debacle and we’ll soon find out if the missteps include how they shaped the roster for 2014. With Rice now gone for good rather than just two games, question marks abound as to who will be the Ravens starter.
Justin Forsett showed flashes against the Bengals, but I don’t think anyone in or outside the organization thinks he is the answer. The guy everyone assumed would get the bulk of playing time without Rice was Bernard Pierce, but he got benched midway through the game for fumbling and ineffectiveness. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who led the team in rushing during the preseason, provides the lone sense of hope, but he got zero carries against Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, opening against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, West carried the ball 16 times for the Browns racking up 100 yards in his first NFL game. He averaged 6.3 yards a carry and got ten more carries than Ben Tate, who has been the guy initially ballyhooed as the starter for Cleveland. Late in the fourth quarter, West was the go to running back on the field, as the Browns came up just short in their bid to upset Pittsburgh.
This week has been a tough one to be a Raven fan. While drafting Terrence West wouldn’t have softened the blow of watching the latest Rice video release or provided cover for the PR disaster that has followed, from strictly a football standpoint, it would be great to be able to point to that local star drafted in May and say the future is in good hands. Instead, we get to watch that guy play and possibly star for our division rival.
Fearless Predictions – Obviously, my prediction on Ray Rice’s season yardage total was squashed after only a few days, although I can’t say I’m all that upset about it. With that said, I still feel pretty good about the rest of my predictions. I was disappointed that my boy Kyle Juszczyk was only targeted once against Cincy, but I expect his level of production to pick up considerably as the season moves forward.
Closer – With the loss on Sunday there was obviously not a “save” to be given to anyone on the defensive side of the ball. Instead, I’m going to give a “blown save” to both Chykie Brown and the coaching staff for allowing A.J. Green to score on that ridiculous 77-yard TD in the fourth quarter. How can you allow Brown to be the guy who matches up against Green at any point in the game?