When it comes to the NFL Draft, just about nobody commands the same sort of reputation in today’s game as the Baltimore Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome, and while the merits of that prestige can be debated, it is none the less true that they have, overall, been a good team when it comes to working the draft.
But that don’t always get everything right, of course. Nobody does. And two of their biggest draft misses in recent years actually came in an overall pretty decent draft class for them, back in just 2013, when they were coming off the franchise’s second Super Bowl trophy.
Among the players that they managed to get out of that draft were the excellent nose tackle Brandon Williams, quality fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and starting right tackle Rick Wagner. But at the top of the draft are what increasingly seem to be two significant misses at key positions.
For many a year, it was inside linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed who embodied Ravens football. The two are bound to be future Hall of Famers, but by the end of the 2012 season, they were quite long in the tooth and just about at the end of the road.
Newsome evidently sought to replace both of them with one fell swoop, claiming safety Matt Elam in the first round and inside linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round. Both entering their fourth and final seasons (Elam’s fifth-year option was declined), neither of them are currently guaranteed to have a roster spot by the time the regular season hits.
At both positions, in fact, the Ravens are currently at a deficit and looking for answers in the starting lineup. While they went out and signed Eric Weddle at safety in free agency, it is still yet to be determined who will make the roster, let alone who will start across from him.
Following the departure of Daryl Smith, whom the Ravens brought in to fill Lewis’ shoes, Baltimore is now looking for another inside linebacker to pair with C.J. Mosley, whom they drafted in the first round in 2014.
There are three players vying to move into the lineup, and the favorite currently seems to be Zachary Orr, a former undrafted free agent, with Albert McClellan, another former undrafted free agent, his primary competition. Brown, the high draft pick, is on the outside looking in as it currently stands, and some wonder if he will make the roster.
It is a wonder if Elam will make the roster as well, since the Ravens also return Kendrick Lewis, a starter last year, and have moved Ladarius Webb to safety, and there are other young players in the mix that they like as well.
While adding players such as Williams and Wagner, particularly in the areas in which they did, is a fine job, it should not be overlooked the sort of misses that the Ravens had that year in the first and second rounds, and the ramifications that that has had on the team, particularly the defense, since then.