2012 NFL Draft Grades: Baltimore Ravens
We all know what the Ravens are good at, physical in your face kind of defense with a steady dose of Ray Rice on the offensive side of the ball. With future Hall of Famers like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed returning to their defense for what looks like one more season. Coming into the draft, general manager Ozzie Newsome wanted to added depth to the defense and ultimately get younger. They managed to do just that while also adding some nice pieces to their offensive line plugging the hole from the departure of Ben Grubbs. The Ravens also wanted to add to their receiving group, preferably adding a permanent fixture opposite Torrey Smith for Flacco to have in the long run. The Ravens ultimately are becoming a bit long in the tooth as players continue to get up there in age. They could have had a better draft if they moved up for the player that they really wanted, like Dont'a Hightower who could have been the heir apparent to Ray Lewis, but instead they decided to add more players to their roster. The players they did get were good value for where they got them but some of them are bigger projects then others. This Ravens team could win it all now, and to ensure that they could have gone for broke.
Ravens Draft Grade: B-
35. Courtney Upshaw, OLB Alabama
For the Ravens to slip back into the second round after missing out on the other Alabama prospect that they wanted in Dont'a Hightower and be able to get one of the top twenty five players in the draft is an absolute steal. Upshaw can come in right away and start at outside linebacker for the Ravens providing them another talented pass rusher. His style of play fits with the Ravens aggressive play like a glove and I don't think many envisioned Upshaw falling all the way to the second round. Upshaw is one big boy to boot at 6'1 and weighs in at 275 pounds while he is also able to surprise people with his athletic ability. In college his numbers didn't completely illustrate how disruptive of a force he was, despite the fact that he still managed to have 9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. It is a shame however that Terrell Suggs just recently went down to a potentially season ending injury, but the Ravens do have great depth at the position and with a pick like Upshaw it provides even better depth.
60. Kelechi Osemele, OG Iowa State
Kelechi Osemele is one of the highest rated offensive guard prospects in the draft and the Ravens are elated to have him fall to them considering the departure of Ben Grubbs. The Ravens attempted to pry OG Evan Mathis away from the Philadelphia Eagles in the off-season but ultimately he stayed. Osemele fits the Ravens offense like a glove though as he is extremely long armed and surprisingly quick for his size. Osemele is a terrific run blocker that Ray Rice and the Ravens running game will absolutely love. A majority of the Ravens offensive line is already terrific in their run blocking technique, but luckily Osemele is a capable pass blocker as well.
84. Bernard Pierce, RB Temple
The Ravens sought out Pierce as they believe he can be a tremendous back up to star Ray Rice. Pierce's skill set is just about the same as Ray Rice as he has a great mix of power and speed but he has a question mark when it comes to his durability. He has a big frame at six foot, 220 pounds and has done a good job of adding muscle of his three years at Temple. He has tremendous vision complemented by his ability to run between the tackles and outside the numbers. Not only is this a good move due to the fact that the Ravens like to use two running backs to wear down defenses, but with Ray Rice holding out for a contract, it makes even more sense. However, I don't think anyone truly believes that Rice will miss the regular season.
98. Gino Gradkowski, OG/C Delaware
Gino Gradkowski is an insurance pick for this season that could pay huge dividends in a few years with him, Michael Oher, Osemele, Jah Reid and Marshall Yanda on the line. The Ravens have set up themselves very well for the future by solidifying their offensive line for many years to come. Now granted, Gradkowski most likely will not start this season it is a tremendous pick up to pick up a talented offensive lineman with starting potential. He has a nasty mean streak to him while also having an excellent work ethic, all of which the Ravens organization admires in their players.
130. Christian Thompson, S South Carolina State
This is simply a depth draft pick once again by the Ravens as they lost quality players at the position in Tom Zbikowski and Haroki Nakamura. Thompson is a physical tackler which will serve him well on special teams and when he occasionally playing in nickel packages. Could he be an eventual replacement to Ed Reed? I don't know, safe money is on no because no one can replace what Ed Reed has done for the Baltimore Ravens. However, if he can be a sound tackler and be serviceable in coverage then the Ravens will have made a great decision in draft Thompson. The question with this pick is that there were other safeties still available that were further along in their development like Markelle Martin. Thompson is lucky to have a mentor of the likes of Reed in front of him.
169. Asa Jackson, CB Cal Poly
Asa Jackson is not a big name or a player that will stick out to you on the game tapes due to the fact that he isn't exactly a flashy player. He is a decent enough kick and punt returner but also could step in as the slot corner for the ravens. Jackson uses his height to make up for his leanness while having great ball instincts, footwork and speed. With his small size in mind, it is surprising to see how good he is at tackling. With his height and tackling ability he looks to make an impact as a slot corner or even at worst, a special teamer. This is yet again another move that adds depth to a roster that lost a few supplemental pieces in the off-season.
198. Tommy Streeter, WR Miami
Tommy Streeter has tremendous size at 6'5 and great speed as he ran a 4.40 forty time. The big surprise of this pick is that with his skill set he could have been a fourth or fifth round pick in the draft and instead falls to the Ravens in the sixth round as they were looking for a tall wide receiver to pair with rookie sensation Torrey Smith. With his size and speed he could emerge as a dangerous red-zone target for Joe Flacco, but he needs to refine his route running ability in order to be a steady starter in the NFL. However, he does a terrific job of using his size and speed to his advantage to gain an advantage over his man when the ball is in the air. Flacco will have fun being able to go over the top to Torrey Smith and then throw jump balls to a player like Streeter, but for him to be an every down receiver he needs a little refining. It wouldn't surprise me if Streeter catches on quickly and has a strong second half of the season.
236. DeAngelo Tyson, DL Georgia
This is your typical seventh round pick. It is unlikely that Tyson will see any significant time on the line but he does have good size for his position. With the loss of Cory Redding, they needed to add more depth to the defensive line but the starters are set. There is even a chance that Tyson may not even make the team, but if he does don't expect much. He would back up Haloti Ngata, who hardly comes off the field as it is. Tyson has some experience at the nose tackle position as he is a solid single gap defender, but struggles at getting off of his blockers. He will have to improve significantly to see steady playing time, and with a player of Ngata's skill level in front of him, you would hope he would be a sponge.