NFL Draft Focus: Baltimore Ravens

talks Ravens football with beat writer Ken Murray, who has covered
the NFL for over 30 years. Murray dishes on the draft, free agency,
the CBA, and Joe Flacco. Baltimore finished 12-4 in 2010 and will
pick 26
in the 2011 NFL Draft.


     22nd (322.9)

Yards:  14th (114.4)

  20th (208.4)

  17th (22.3)


    10th (318.9)

5th (93.9)

Yards:  21st (224.9)

  3rd (16.9)

Interceptions:     T-8th

Sacks:             T-27th


Passing Yards:    Joe Flacco (3,622)

Rushing Yards:    Ray Rice (1,220)

Receiving Yards:  Anquan Boldin (837)

Sacks:                Terrell Suggs (11)

Interceptions:       Ed Reed (8)

Tackles:              Ray Lewis (139)


2010 No first-round selection

2009 Michael Oher, OL (2010 stats:
Started all 16 games for second straight year)

2008 Joe Flacco, QB (2010 stats: 3,622
passing yards, 25 TD, 10 INT)

2007 Ben Grubbs, OG (2010 stats:
Started all 16 games at guard)

2006 Haloti Ngata, DT* (2010 stats: 63
tackles, 6 sacks)


DA: The Ravens have long been known for their aggressive, best-talent available approach in the draft. Do you expect GM Ozzie Newsome to continue that trend this year? And what is their biggest need?

KM: They
go on need, but they go on need in a very different way. Ozzie will
take the best players at the positions that he needs to improve at
the most, and he’ll put them all on this big board and he’ll write
them and give them all grades… They’re biggest need this year is a
pass-rusher and or a cornerback I think. But I don’t think that’s
necessarily the first pick. I think if there’s a real good
pass-rusher that’s there in the first round that they have rated as a
first-round prospect, then they would take that guy unless there is
an overwhelming better player at another position. I don’t believe
they’ll draft a quarterback. There are a number of positions where
they need help though. But from what we saw this year from the team
is that the defense is getting older, it needs some youth to it, some
young blood, they need a pass-rusher in the worst way. Suggs was the
only pass-rusher that got close to the quarterback… They need a
young cornerback and they have several cornerbacks now but they’re
all a little older, they need some help in the back end depending on
when Ed Reed decides to retire. But those are the two places on
defense that they want to go.

DA: Is the Ravens’ window
closing? And will the offensive line be addressed?

think they will [address the O-line]. That depends how they emerge from a new CBA and how
it protects or doesn’t protect Jared Gaither. If he becomes an
unrestricted free agent I think they have no chance to keep him. It’s
not acrimonious it was a bad situation this year he couldn’t play
because of a back injury that they could never quantify. In an ideal
world they would bring him back and he would resume his position and
left tackle and they would move Michael Oher back to right tackle and
Marshall Yanda to right guard and they’d a very stout, very physical
offensive line. I think they need a free agent to come in who can
play left tackle, or they can keep Oher at left tackle. The other
position on the line they do need to address in center in the sense
that Matt Birk has played 13 years. He’s still a very competent, good
center but he struggled to get through, 16, 18 games this year
because of a knee he had to have drained at least once a week. I
think he might have trouble coming back under the circumstances they
have now. They want to get more physical on the offensive line, they
want to get stronger. It would be hard for me to imagine Matt coming

DA: Is it far-fetched to think the Ravens should have benched Joe Flacco in the playoff game?

KM: There
were several games this year they should’ve pulled Flacco and put
[Marc] Bulger in. Bulger knows this offense like the back of his hand. He
would have operated the offense much better in times when Flacco
couldn’t handle it. Why that didn’t happen I’m not sure. There’s been
some discussion about Jim Zorn who just got fired, he said Flacco
couldn’t take it mentally. That goes against everything I know about
Flacco myself, Joe’s a very tough guy and I don’t think he would have
cracked. I think they made a huge mistake this year in not saying
Marc Bulger is gonna have to come in for you Joe when you’re not
doing well. Bulger never saw the field and that’s a mystery to me,
because Bulger is a known commodity. He has a much quicker release
than Joe does, he reads defenses much faster than Joe does… Joe has
pretty much used up his slack as ‘this is a rookie guy learning his

DA: Will the Ravens be aggressive in the free agent market as they were last year?

KM: There’ll
be very active if there’s an agreement in the CBA before March 3.
They can sign their own players. They pretty much have a deal agreed
to with Billy Cundiff. It will all be contingent on how the CBA talks
go. Ozzie fills in with the free agents, and he really gets the
players that are going to play in free agency and then he gets the
guys that are going to fill in on special teams and help out and move
into a starting position in the draft. With the exception of some of
their great first-round picks they don’t really expect to get guys
that are going to play [right away]. So it is really going to come
down to the CBA. It’s going to impact a lot of teams, but the Ravens
probably as much as anyone because they like to operate in the free
agent market. They like to fill their major holes there and they the
best young guy they can get out of the draft.

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