Baltimore Ravens 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
The sheer volume of information that has come out during the buildup to the 2014 NFL draft is mind-boggling. With so many rumors whizzing about, however, there are sure to be some that are off the mark, and that’s the focus of this slideshow.
Each slide presents a common notion or thought that pertains to how the Baltimore Ravens will approach the draft, complete with a breakdown of why it is fact or fiction—at least in the opinion of this writer. The rumors range from positions the Ravens will target to specific players, but hopefully you agree with the verdict on these issues.
2014 Will Be an Offense-Loaded Haul: Fiction
In the 2013 NFL draft, Baltimore spent its first four draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. Considering the amount of young and developing talent on defense and the atrocity that was the Ravens offense in 2013, you might expect this to be an offensive-minded draft.
That isn’t the case, however.
Ozzie Newsome is still going to make upgrades in key areas on offense (namely at right tackle), but the signings of Steve Smith and Owen Daniels and the re-signings of Eugene Monroe, Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones mean that Newsome can enter the draft with a balanced focus on both sides of the ball.
With a gigantic need at free safety and depth needs at inside linebacker, cornerback and defensive end, this will be a fairly balanced draft for the Ravens.
Free Safety Will Be an Early Target: Fact
According to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com, head coach John Harbaugh recently said that either Darian Stewart or Matt Elam could start at free safety. Let’s just hope he was being polite.
The one glaring weakness on the Ravens roster (even more so than right tackle) is that there is no true center fielder.
Big plays in the passing game were an issue for the defense all of last season, and the Ravens gave up the most passing plays of 40-plus yards in the league (17) according to NFL.com. That number backs up what we saw on film, with a number of blown coverages and miscommunication between the safeties and the cornerbacks resulting in wide-open receivers down the field on far too many occasions.
A rangy free safety in the mold of Ed Reed is the missing piece to this defense that could take it over the top and make it one of the league’s best. With a few very good safety prospects like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor and Jimmie Ward set to go off the board in the first two rounds, it makes a whole lot of sense for the Ravens to focus on adding one of them if they have the chance.
The Ravens Have to Draft a Pass-Catcher Early On: Fiction
This statement was true earlier in the offseason, but Joe Flacco has the deepest and most talented receiving corps (on paper at least) of his career—a notion that John Eisenberg of BaltimoreRavens.com agrees with:
It might be the best group in franchise history, at least potentially. There’s a nice blend of youth and age, speed and route running. Torrey Smith should be entering his prime. Marlon Brown came out of nowhere to set rookie records in 2013. Jones is slotted to be the No. 3 wideout, a better spot for him. The newcomers, Steve Smith and Daniels, bring a combined seven Pro Bowl appearances to the mix.
That depth, combined with the plethora of talented receivers in the draft, means that the Ravens are unlikely to select a receiver until the third round.
If Mike Evans falls to No. 17, they’ll have to think about him, but Baltimore can find much better value in the third round with players like Paul Richardson, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry and Bruce Ellington probably still on the board.
Newsome Has Eyes for Local Prospect Terrance West: Fact
There has been a lot of buzz connecting Towson running back Terrance West to his hometown club. Part of that is merely the Ravens doing their due diligence on a prospect from their own backyard, but you have to believe they would jump at the chance to take him when the time is right.
In addition, West has a close relationship with Ravens running back Bernard Pierce, who has served as a mentor to the draft prospect in recent years according to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com.
More importantly, the kid is a tremendous running back who is underrated in terms of draft stock because of his lack of competition at the FCS level.
With a great blend of power and speed (and more importantly the ability to translate speed into power), West is a great one-cut runner tailor-made for Gary Kubiak’s zone-running scheme.
Ozzie Newsome isn’t going to draft West just because he’s from the Baltimore area or because Pierce knows him, but those two factors mean that the Ravens have a better read on West than other teams around the league.
That fact in conjunction with his immense talent means that he’s worth keeping an eye on when Day 2 of the draft rolls around.
Shehan Peiris is B/R's Lead Featured Columnist covering the Baltimore Ravens and a co-host of Ravens Central Radio, a weekly podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network that focuses on all things Ravens-related. For the latest Ravens news, draft analysis and links to episodes of Ravens Central Radio, follow me on Twitter:
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