I think we’ve all had just about as much of the bad news from “Birdland” (more like Turdland, amright?) as we can stand for the moment, so we turn our attention now to “Ravenstown” instead. You know, that other team in B’More that actually tries (and succeeds) to win every now and again.
Let’s get to the picks, shall we?
ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (they agree) (subscription required)
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Kiper says: The Ravens have made moves to add help for Joe Flacco, but drafting a young WR that can grow with Flacco is still an important consideration. Thomas is a big, physical home run threat, and even this high, may have been undervalued because he was stuck in a running system at Tech. He’s the perfect downfield target for Flacco’s big arm, a guy who can make plays even when the defense knows it’s coming.
McShay says: Baltimore has a reputation for cashing in on the best available player and this is another opportunity to do so. Thomas would be a steal here given his size/speed combination and give QB Joe Flacco another dangerous weapon to go with offseason acquisitions Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth.
Our take: Thomas is an intriguing option. However, Ozzie Newsome may be a bit gun-shy about taking first-round WRs at this point, after missing on Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton, both of whom were/are decent, but never developed into the kind of talent you would like to see a first-rounder become. To borrow a phrase from Ray Lewis, bottom line is, Ozzie and the Ravens’ front office have been MUCH more successful evaluating talent at other positions.
One of the knocks on Thomas is that he struggles to run block, despite playing in a running system at Georgia Tech. Scouts, Inc. says that “it’s alarming how poor of a run blocker he is for his size. His angles are atrocious at times and he looks lost far too often.” The Ravens, even if they added Thomas, are likely to still be a run-first team. However, playing for a few years with a guy that takes such pride in his run blocking as Anquan Boldin could do wonders for the kid in this respect.
When it comes right down to it, I just don’t see the Ravens going WR in the first round. Think about it – last year, these mock drafts all had the Ravens taking a WR too. Ozzie didn’t do it then, so why would he do it now, after an offseason in which he added Anquan Boldin and Dante Stallworth, and locked up Derrick Mason for at least another season? I do think the Ravens will take a WR at some point in the draft, but not in the first round.
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Even with the addition of Anquan Boldin, the Ravens won’t hesitate to select a talented receiver should he be the best player available. General manager Ozzie Newsome has developed a reputation for finding superstars in the latter portions of the first round. If he can get over Dez Bryant’s questionable professionalism, Newsome might just discover another star. Some veteran scouts have compared Bryant to Randy Moss.
Our take: Alright, so you remember all that stuff I said about wide receivers in the draft regarding Demaryius Thomas? Throw it all right out the window if Dez Bryant is still on the board at #25. He is listed as the #12 overall prospect in the draft by Scouts, Inc., and if he falls this far, Ozzie and Co. would no doubt have to break their “best player available” rule to pass him up. On the field, Bryant is incredible, and there is absolutely no reason he should fall to the bottom of the first round. The questions arise regarding some off the field issues – he was suspended for the final 10 games of the 2009 season for lying to NCAA investigators regarding his relationship with former Raven Deion Sanders.
For comparison’s sake, Kiper and McShay have Bryant going at #7 and #21, respectively. I really do think this is a case where the Ravens would overlook the potential negatives in Bryant’s personality and select him in a heartbeat if he was there. I just don’t see any scenario in which he is still available by the time the purple and black are on the clock. Some team in the top 24 will give the kid from Oklahoma State a shot. It’s a pipe dream to think the Ravens could get him without trading up significantly.
Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
Reuter says: The loss of Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan means Odrick would step in right away to help NT Haloti Ngata free up Ray Lewis to do his thing.
Prisco says: The more and more you hear, the more this one makes sense
Judge says: A vastly underrated defensive tackle who shouldn’t last this long. The Ravens are all about defense, and he helps them … or anyone … in the middle.
Our take: Reuter makes a valid point about the losses of Edwards and Bannan. However, he neglects to mention that the Ravens also added Cory Redding to the roster. Defensive tackle is a position at which the Ravens seem to consistently have adequate depth. Adding a guy like Odrick could certainly bolster the line, but at what cost? Scouts, Inc. has him ranked as the #28 talent on the board, so what are the chances that he will fit the Ravens “best player” motto? Not to mention that DT Haloti Ngata is due for a new contract after this season, and having that much money (Ngata’s contract plus first round money to Odrick, should they draft him) tied up in one position might not be the wisest course of action, NFL collective bargaining agreement issues aside. Especially on a team that is realizing that their offense is what has been holding them back over the last several years, not the defense.
While a purple-clad Odrick would make the local Penn State fans happy, again, I just don’t see it.
Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
The Ravens need to fortify their interior defense after losing Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards in free agency. Cody gives the team a mammoth nose tackle that is nearly impossible to move off the ball. He teams with Haloti Ngata to form an impenetrable wall at the point of attack.
Our take: Cody seems even less likely than Odrick to me. In addition to all the issues I mentioned above, “Mount Cody” comes with some weight and work ethic issues that make him even more of a stretch in my mind. Scouts, Inc. puts him at #48(!) on their board, so unless Ozzie & Co. see something extremely special in this guy that nobody else really seems to (hey, it’s happened before), this pick seems just as likely to happen on Saturday, if at all, as it does on Thursday night.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
The Ravens’ five 2010 draft picks are: first round (25th overall), second round (57th), fifth round (156th and 157th) and sixth round (194th). The Ravens traded their third- and fourth-round picks to Arizona for Anquan Boldin and their seventh-round pick went to Tampa Bay in a 2009 trade for defensive end Marques Douglas. With just five picks, look for Baltimore to focus on finding players that can both contribute right away and fill glaring needs. Gresham is the top tight end talent in this draft. Add him into the mix with recently acquired wideouts Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth, and watch Joe Flacco’s passing numbers reach new heights.
Our take: We’ve already covered Gresham extensively – click here for the all-Gresham mock draft round up from last month.
Closing thoughts: Out of eight mock drafts, we have 3 experts seeing the Ravens go WR, 4 that say DT, and now just 1 guessing TE. I definitely didn’t start writing this blog planning to shoot down what every single “expert” had to say, it just kind of worked out that way. I have to say, it seems like these guys haven’t even been watching the way Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens’ front office operates over the last 14 years. I don’t profess to know any better than they do what the Ravens will do, but these guys don’t have a very good track record overall of predicting ANY picks, let alone those of the Ravens.
Additionally, I find it very hard to believe that none of these guys are mocking a cornerback to the Ravens at #25. A guy like Patrick Robinson or Kyle Wilson could give the Ravens some much needed depth at CB, and they seem infinitely more likely to me than a guy like Terrence Cody.
I realize that I’ve done all this critiquing of others’ picks without offering one of my own. Just for craps and giggles, I’ll go on record with this prediction: The Ravens either trade back from #25, or take Gresham.
What say you?