With the NFL scouting combine in full swing this weekend in Indianapolis (home of the Super Bowl LOSERS, of course), all of the NFL draft “gurus” are getting ready to straight up mangle their “big boards,” “Top 50s,” or whatever else they call their player rankings.
Before they get the chance to do that, I wanted to take one more opportunity to round up the mock drafts in their current forms, and give my thoughts on the Ravens predictions in those mocks.
Florida State CB Patrick Robinson
Ravens fans may be clamoring for a wideout at No. 25 — LSU’s Brandon LaFell appears to already be a fan favorite on the blogs and message boards — but cornerback is as pressing, if not a far greater need. Robinson battled injuries this season, but always exhibited top flight corner talent when on the field.
With Ed Reed’s future status still unknown and Frank Walker and Domonique Foxworth serving as starting cornerbacks down the stretch of the ’09 season, Robinson fills an immediate need and could contribute right away. Whether or not ex-Canes Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Tavares Gooden will tolerate having a Seminole in their defensive huddle is an entirely other issue. Look for Baltimore to snag Robinson at 25, then look to address receiver in the second round.
Well, this is easy enough. I’ve already covered Robinson, here.
In case you don’t feel like clicking:
During the first half of the 2009 season, most Ravens fans would be overjoyed if you told them Ozzie & Co. would end up taking Robinson in the first round. The Ravens’ secondary was dismal up until the bye week. However, they really turned things on after that, as Dominique Foxworth picked up his game, and they started getting significant contributions from guys like Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Dawan Landry, and even Frank Walker (to an extent). Pass defense doesn’t look to be as high a priority for Owings Mills as it would have seemed in early October. The health of guys like Webb and Fabian Washington will also have to play into this equation. Foxworth’s big free agent contract is another issue, as the Ravens may be hesitant to tie up more first round money in a CB.
On the other hand, a strong young cornerback duo of Webb and Robinson could have the Ravens set at the position for years to come. Not to mention, Robinson rocks the dreadlocks like Webb does, and nobody can say no to having TWO be-dreaded guys in the defensive backfield.
Scout.com’s Chris Steuber
Brandon Lafell, WR, LSU
The Ravens need a big WR who can be a game breaker on offense. Golden Tate is rated higher, but LaFell gives Joe Flacco a larger target.
Like last year, a lot of these mock drafts have the Ravens taking a WR in the first round. Obviously, it is still an area of need for the team. However, as Eric Decosta and Ozzie Newsome have continued to beat into our heads, they refuse to draft on need, instead sticking with their tried-and-true “best player available” strategy. Ravens fans were clamoring for a WR in last year’s first round, and the Owings Mills brain trust instead blessed us with the talent that is Michael Oher. Nobody seems to be complaining about that.
In his argument for the Ravens taking Lafell, Steuber has already broken the Ravens’ rule of taking the best player available, by noting that Golden Tate is, in effect, the better player. Not that his opinion on these two is by any means the same as the current one at 1 Winning Drive…but I just get the feeling that Ravens fans shouldn’t get themselves too excited about the prospects of Lafell wearing a different shade of purple as his transitions from his college to his professional career.
Collegefootballnews.com’s Pete Fiutak
Biggest Needs: 1) WR, 2) CB, 3) S
3 Players To Consider At This Spot: Golden Tate, WR Notre Dame; Jermaine Gresham, TE Oklahoma; Rob Gronkowski, TE Arizona
The Player That Will Likely Be Taken Here: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
While its hard to argue with Fiutak’s list of needs for the Ravens, it goes back again to what I said before about drafting for need. The Ravens just don’t do it. Even assuming that the Ravens’ “big board” (the only one that matters) has Tate and Lafell back-to-back in some order, it seems unlikely that either of them will be the “best player available” when Roger Goodell comes calling on April 22. I’ll say it again – don’t just expect the Ravens to go WR in Round 1 because everyone pretty much agrees that they should.
That’s about enough of this mocking for now. To round up, this time we had 2 WRs and 1 CB projected to the Ravens. These draft gurus, of course, base their predictions on teams’ needs. I know I’m repeating myself here, but that IS NOT WHAT THE RAVENS DO. So, when you are surfing the net reading these things, just keep that in mind.