What Position do you think the Ravens need to focus on early in the draft?
The Baltimore Ravens will head into the 2013 NFL draft with many needs. However, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and the rest of the Ravens draft team usually like to stick to their "best player available" mantra. With the team needing depth at such a variety of positions, could that mantra turn more to "the best player available at the position we need"? Which is basically how 90% of the teams in the NFL already draft. The Ravens have done it before, recently even. In 2008 they traded up in the first round to grab quarterback Joe Flacco. They did the same in 2009 to draft left tackle Michael Oher. Tackles are hard to come by at the end of the first round, at least "elite" tackles.
This season the Ravens will need depth at inside linebacker, safety, defensive and offensive line and you can never have enough corners and pass rushers as well. When you really get down to brass tax the team could use another wide receiver as well.
The team may choose to move out of the first round completely to acquire more picks considering they are basically picking in the second round to start with already. However, obviously they will need to use some of their earlier picks on positions of need to help ensure quality over sheer quantity.
The most glaring needs heading into 2013 have to be inside linebacker and offensive/defensive tackles. One would hope that the team chooses to use at least one, if not all of their first three picks to address these issues. Then, you have the Ed Reed and Paul Kruger situations. If Reed chooses to take a bigger payday with another organization the Ravens will have a huge hole to fill right in the middle of their secondary. Some fans speculate that the answer may already be on the roster in oft-injured star corner Lardarius Webb but I am skeptical that the team would take their best corner and move him to a different position unless his surgically repaired knees hinder his play at corner, which is something we will not find out until training camp or later. So even if that is the answer there is no way of knowing that on draft day. Knowing this the team may feel the need to take a longer look at the corner position as well.
Paul Kruger will most likely be too expensive for the Ravens to retain, especially if they plan on keeping Danell Ellerbe which seems like the more probable situation currently. Ellerbe will come at a cheaper cost simply because of the position he plays and the Ravens are very thin at that position already. Danelle has arguably been the Ravens best linebacker for the past two seasons. They can not afford to lose him. So, Raven fans can probably bid a fond farewell to Mr. Kruger and hope that Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee are able to boost their pass rushing prowess' in the upcoming season. Or else the Ravens may have yet another tough decision come draft day. Perhaps, if they could find an interior lineman early on that is also a capable pass rusher that could be their best option.