One of the things I have become accustomed to in being a Ravens fan over the years is that they pick very low in the first round. Being the defending Super Bowl champions this year, they had the 32nd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, so Ravens Nation wasn’t going to be expecting one of the sexy names to still be on the board at that point.
No matter, because Ozzie Newsome couldn’t care less. Newsome’s drafting has become like clockwork, and his philosophy never wavers. Draft for best available talent, not for need. This year, I believe the Ravens satisfied their appetite for both in an offseason in which they lost a bevvy of impact starters. Here is a look at the key players Newsome tabbed to fill some of those voids:
Round 1 (32), Matt Elam, FS, Florida
This is what I meant with drafting for both talent and need. He is not going to be asked to fill Ed Reed’s shoes, now or even in the future. What he will be counted on for is his big-play ability and his ability to hit, which the Ravens also will be missing in the departure of their strong safety, Bernard Pollard. He is a tad bit undersized, but the Ravens have a knack for working around any perceived shortcomings from their defensive players.
Round 2 (56), Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas St.
Another talent and need acquisition, Brown also won’t be asked to fill the shoes of a legend, but comes highly touted. He’s versatile enough to potentially play either inside or outside, and is strong in pass coverage. He is also a great tackler, and could earn a starting job out of training camp. I like that the Ravens went defense with their first two picks. It seemed like an obvious choice, but Newsome often defies conventional wisdom, so good to see them address an area that took such a big hit in free agency.
Round 3 (94), Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern St.
Keeping on the defensive theme, the Ravens got themselves a three-time All-American in Williams. He will be part of a rotation with the aging Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody and brings to Baltimore great agility and the ability to swim past blockers into the backfield. With Williams, the Ravens essentially addressed the three levels of the defense in fine fashion with their first three picks.
Round 4 (129), John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Simon is a hard worker with a great motor who is something of an overachiever. He provides depth, but it will be interesting to see how he fits into the defensive line rotation.
Round 4 (130), Kyle Juszczyk, FB, Harvard
Juszczyk could be an H-back or fullback and has good strength. His Pro Day numbers were solid, and he could make an impact on special teams or spelling Vonta Leach.
Other notables: Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame – He was injured in a bowl game against Alabama but projects as a solid all-around defensive lineman; Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon – Mellette’s production was phenomenal, as he had three seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards and 12+ touchdowns. He’s got reliable hands and can win jump balls in traffic.