Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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NFL Draft Preview: Ravens

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.


No. 1 Team Need: Right Tackle

Silva's analysis

Baltimore's offensive line fell directly off a cliff in 2013, losing promising LG Kelechi Osemele to a year-ending back injury and trading for LT Eugene Monroe in an October move that cost the Ravens two 2014 middle-round picks. The Ravens did well to retain Monroe and land C Jeremy Zuttah to upgrade on Gino Gradkowski, but right tackle is wide open after Michael Oher left for Tennessee. With new OC Gary Kubiak installing a zone-blocking scheme, Baltimore will pursue more athletic right tackle candidates than holdover Rick Wagner. Osemele is staying at guard.

Norris' options

First day option: Brandon Thomas, Clemson - Hear me out. I know Thomas is not frequently mentioned as a first-rounder, but he deserves to be. This is not a projection if the team stays at 17, but if they trade back to the mid- or late-20s, absolutely. Just consider that this position likely means missing out on Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan, and I believe Zack Martin will ultimately play guard. Thomas is extremely powerful and not only generates push on first contact, but also on second efforts. He holds up in pass protection thanks to long arms and an athletic lower half. A projection to the right side makes it tricky, but I have plenty of confidence in Thomas’ game.

Second day possibility: Jack Mewhort, Ohio State - Mewhort is easy to like, since he fights for proper positioning in terms of a strong inside grip and arm extension. He has experience at guard and left tackle, so again, a projection to the right side might be tricky, especially against inside moves. Mewhort has displayed some deficiencies against counter moves, which can lead to waist bending.

Third day flier: Seantrel Henderson, Miami - Henderson’s landing spot will be critical, but he has tons of talent. The team has some experience with inconsistent offensive linemen (see Bryant McKinnie). Henderson’s combination and power and movement skills is intriguing for someone of his size, and he has experience at right tackle.

Video: Norris on Baltimore's top need

No. 2 Team Need: Safety

Silva's analysis

It's telling when your best safety is James Ihedigbo. First-round pick Matt Elam was stretched as a rookie starter, while Michael Huff got cut six weeks into the season. As Ihedigbo is now gone to Detroit, Newsome will have to add at least one major contributor at safety. The Ravens prefer Elam in a Bob Sanders-type strong safety role, so expect them to target a true center fielder in May's draft.

Norris' options

First day option: Jimmie Ward, NIU - Just like tackle, No. 17 might be a bit of a wasteland for safety prospects. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would be a dream at the pick, but I feel he is a top 10 talent and could be selected just before this pick. Calvin Pryor does not fit the free safety projection despite playing a lot of it at Louisville. Honestly, I prefer Ward to Pryor as a prospect. Ward can play down in man or roam the deep half with fluidity. Ward has an even better chance than Brandon Thomas to hear his name called in the first-round.

Second day possibility: Terrence Brooks, FSU - Brooks deserves more attention. He already possesses some veteran traits to his game, including pre-snap movement to confuse the quarterback on their immediate read and backfield vision to anticipate and locate the target. I would not call him the most aggressive tackler, but he can play his role well.

Third day flier: Avery Patterson, Oregon - Patterson might be one of the only true day three coverage safeties in this class. Honestly, his tackling was terrible last year. I keep mentioning it, but this is a trait that has been fixed in the NFL, or even masked in certain situations. Patterson has experience as a deeper safety and in man coverage as a corner.

No. 3 Team Need: Defensive Line

Silva's analysis

Ends Chris Canty and Haloti Ngata are both on the wrong side of 30, while inexperienced 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams is taking over at nose tackle. DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Cody Larsen make up Baltimore's defensive line depth. The Ravens philosophically target space eaters up front that allow their linebackers to run free. The current talent in place isn't poor, but depth is a concern. Baltimore needs young bodies to groom for the future.

Norris' options

First day option: Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota - I keep mentioning it, but Hageman’s career can be taken in two ways. The first would be as a 1-technique. The other, which would be this example, is a five-technique. Hageman has tremendous flashes thanks to a ridiculous combination of power, length and explosion. But the flashes need to be consistent, since there are other exposures of him getting blown off the ball. Hageman’s draft day could be an interesting one, as there’s a chance he is a top-15 pick, or an end of the first-round type.

Second day possibility: Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame - Tuitt should not have been mocked in the first-round, so get that out of your heads. As my friend Matt Waldman would say, Tuitt looks like he is always running uphill. I don’t see a tremendous amount of power, but I understand teams likely value Tuitt in the second-round.

Third day flier: Zach Kerr, Delaware - Kerr is a top 100 prospect in my eyes. He has a very natural anchor and some strength to get in the backfield. I’m not sure which alignment he would play in an odd front, but he flashed some athleticism to play in wider techniques.

Ravens 2014 Draft Picks (8)

First Round (No. 17)

Second Round (No. 48)

Third Round (No. 79)

Third Round (No. 99)

Fourth Round (No. 134)

Fourth Round (No. 138)

Fifth Round (No. 175)

Sixth Round (No. 194)

Current Ravens First-Team Offense

QB: Joe Flacco

RB: Ray Rice

WR: Torrey Smith

WR: Steve Smith

WR: Marlon Brown

TE: Dennis Pitta

LT: Eugene Monroe

LG: Kelechi Osemele

C: Jeremy Zuttah

RG: Marshal Yanda

RT: Rick Wagner

Current Ravens First-Team Defense

RE: Chris Canty

LE: Haloti Ngata

NT: Brandon Williams

ILB: Daryl Smith

ILB: Arthur Brown

OLB: Terrell Suggs

OLB: Elvis Dumervil

LCB: Lardarius Webb

RCB: Jimmy Smith

FS: Darian Stewart

SS: Matt Elam

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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