2012 was easily the most memorable year in Baltimore Ravens history. After integral players Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb were deemed “out for the season” in Week 6 with torn triceps and a torn ACL respectively, Baltimore was stunned. Surprisingly, this didn’t shake the Ravens organization too much due to the stellar play of Webb’s replacement Cary Williams and Lewis’ replacement Dannell Ellerbe. Finishing 10-6, the Ravens won the AFC North and went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl XLVII.
Key Losses: Ray Lewis(Retired), Matt Birk(Retired), Ed Reed(Free Agency), Anquan Boldin(Trade), Paul Kruger(Free Agency), Cary Williams(Free Agency), Dannell Ellerbe(Free Agency), Bernard Pollard(Cut)
Key Additions: Elvis Dumervil(Free Agency), Michael Huff(Free Agency), Chris Canty(Free Agency), Marcus Spears(Free Agency), Rolando Mcclain(Free Agency)
Top Needs Going Into The Draft: Inside Line Backer, Safety, Wide Receiver, Center
32. Matt Elam, S, Florida:
This off-season, long time Raven great, Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans. This made the Strong Safety position a glaring need. With their first pick in the draft, Baltimore chose Reed’s successor, Matt Elam. Elam is an extremely physical specimen. He provides adequate coverage, but he thrives in tackling. After reviewing his games against LSU and Louisville this past season, it is evident that Elam LOVES to hit. He also tacked on four interceptions this past year so he has the potential to be a game changer. On a side note, Elam has great NFL blood lines with his older brother Abram being a safety who formerly played with the Jets, Browns, and Cowboys.
56. Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State:
Along with long time great Ed Reed, the greatest Raven of all time, Ray Lewis announced he was retiring at the end of this past season. He went out by winning a second Super Bowl in what seems to be the feel good story of the year in sports. Previously it was thought that Dannell Ellerbe, his replacement for this past year would replace him this year. Unfortunately, Ellerbe signed with the Dolphins when free agency began. This left the Inside Linebacker position vacant. Luckily the Ravens found their guy in the second round when they took Arthur Brown out of Kansas State. The first thing I noticed when watching Brown’s tape was that he looks a bit undersized for a linebacker. Brown makes up for his size with his unprecedented athleticism. He seems to always find a way to get to the ball carrier and wrap him up. Also, Brown possesses great lateral quickness which is imperative being an Inside Linebacker in a 3-4 set. Another side note, Brown has great NFL bloodlines as well with his brother Bryce being a Running Back for the Philadelphia Eagles.
94. Brandon Williams, NT, Missouri Southern:
With their third round selection the Ravens chose Brandon Williams a Nose Tackle out of Division II Missouri Southern. At Missouri Southern, Williams was a three time All American. At Nose Tackle, Williams had 8.5 sacks which is unheard of at that position. His combination of mammoth size and extreme athleticism makes him a rare commodity. Although Williams does not fill an pressing need, he should play a vital role in a couple years. Since the Ravens did not resign Nose Tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, the position was to be filled by star defensive end Haloti Ngata. This calls for Ngata to play at a position where he may not be as effective. With the addition of Williams, possibly two or three years down the road he will solidify the Nose Tackle position and Ngata can move back to five technique end position.
129. John Simon, DE/OLB, Ohio State:
John Simon was quoted as the “heart and soul” of the Ohio State defense by head coach Urban Meyer this past season. Being team captain and the Big 10 defensive player of the year, he has prestigious accolades. Posting 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a career-high nine sack Simon had great production at Ohio State and was a good value pick at the end of the fourth round. Simon will provide depth at the Outside Linebacker position and brings potential leadership to a team that just lost a significant amount of it.
130. Kyle Juszczyk, FB, Harvard:
This seems a little early to draft a Fullback but there’s always been a method to GM Ozzie Newsome’s madness. Starting Fullback Vonta Leach was released the other day so it seems as if Juszczyk will get the nod for starting Fullback. Although Leach was unanimously the top FB in the NFL, he was a burden on the salary cap and Fullback is arguably the least vital position in the NFL. Juszcyzk’s game consists mainly of blocking and pass catching. After watching his Senior Bowl highlights, I noticed that he is a great run and pass blocker. He also caught 52 passes for 706 yards and 8 touchdowns last year which is very impressive for a Fullback.
168. Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin:
Wagner is a sufficient Offensive Tackle who blocked for Russell Wilson’s blindside two years ago at Wisconsin. Although not an elite player, Wagner will add depth to the Tackle position for the Ravens and is a good value selection in the fifth round.
200. Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE/DT, Notre Dame:
Lewis Moore is a good fit in Baltimore’s defense. He will add depth at the 3-4 DE position but don’t expect him to see the field much in 2013.
203. Ryan Jensen, G/OT, Colorado State: I don’t really like the pick considering there were more pressing needs but a late sixth round pick shouldn’t get much criticism. Jensen will likely be cut during training camp.
238. Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon: In 2006, Marques Colston a Wide Receiver out of Hofstra was drafted in the seventh round by the New Orleans Saints. Since then Marques Colston has caught 532 passes in the NFL for 7,394 yards. Since ’06 there hasn’t been a Wide Receiver drafted in the seventh round with this much potential as Aaaron Mellette. With good size at 6’2 and reliable hands, Mellette will be a solid possession receiver in the NFL, especially with Joe Flacco throwing to him.
247. Marc Anthony, CB, California:
The Ravens final pick was a good one. Anthony, out of Cal was expected to go in the 4th round. Anthony is an efficient coverage corner and an aggressive tackler. Initially, he should provide depth to the Ravens Cornerback corps, but will most likely end up as a serviceable corner in the NFL.
Overall Draft Grade: A