We did it baby! Champions of the world! I am a pretty active poster during the off season, as this is the best place to
get my Ravens Itch fulfilled outside of Sundays themselves. I hate to be a downer, but it is time to think about the off
season. For those who think I'm moving to fast, that I should enjoy our victory, I should tell you that in franchise
mode on "Madden" I would sometimes sim the entire season, just to toy around in the off season. So yes, I can't
express how happy I am that we are champions, AND the off season is here.
So first, there's no looking over it, we will have a tough free agency this year. Below are our free agents, and my thoughts on them.
Joe Flacco: Most Important of our free agents, I mean he really played his way into the contract he will be receiving, like it or not. It's tough giving anyone the amount of money he's asking, but he has more leverage then almost anyone. The Ravens will not let him go, there will be articles saying we'll let him walk and trade for Alex Smith, or draft a QB, but lets be honest He's a Raven, whether it be through a franchise tag, or a contract. I suggest a contract with a hefty signing bonus, trying to lower the cap hit.
Dennis Pitta: According to KFFL.com, Pitta is a restricted free agent. This will play into our favor. Rarily, do teams give up draft picks for free agents unless they are low picks, or its a stellar free agent. Just look at Mike Wallace. I think we should be fine, and he will get a long term contract in 2014, in order to fit under cap
Ed Dickson: See Dennis Pitta
Bryant McKinnie: What is there to say about this dude? He's fat, but who cares? He is a serviceable left tackle, when they are not at a surplus around the league. He didn't get much playing time outside of the play offs, which will scare away teams. It may have been a move by Ozzie, so he could resign him at a cheap price. The fat label will scare teams too.
Art Jones: I believe he is really an unsung hero. Solid, but doesn't excel in the money maker area for defensive ends of pass rushing. Stout against the run, fits well in our system. Since he isn't very flashy I can see him returning on a reasonable contract.
Danell Ellerbe: Highly important free agent in my eyes. Most important after Flacco. Really became a monster this season, and would really play well along side Jameel McClain to help the loss of Ray Lewis. I sure hope we can keep him, and believe we can. The only hang up would be a suitor overpaying him.
Cary Williams: He's gone. Not much to say. No chance he stay for less. He's looking for his payday. We should be fine though, as we will have LarDarius Webb coming back, Jimmy Smith playing well, and Corey Graham still under contract. Chykie Brown didn't look terrible either.
Ed Reed: Hate to say it, but I just don't see him fitting into our cap. He may be committed to taking a lesser salary to remain with Baltimore, especially after a championship. However with the suitors he will receive, I fully expect him to suit up in a different jersey. I must admit that it will be tough. He could also retire, lets not forget he hinted at it earlier.
Paul Kruger: Got hot late, in the limelight. Teams will be drooling over him. I'm sure Ozzie would love keeping him, but he will be swooped up. Ozzie won't overpay for him.
Ma'ake Kemoatu: Getting old, but was a quality starter. Terrence Cody has under-preformed so far, but could break out. Maybe Ma'ake's age scares off teams, and his loyalty may be valued for the Ravens. May sign for less, in order to stay.
Micheal Oher: He shouldn't be back. Bearing a very cheap contract he will suit up for a team wanting to cash in off his "Blind Side" fame. I may be being tough on him, but I really don't like him...
So, Where does that leave us? Well, this highlights the holes left in our team. It leaves holes at the spots of Offensive Tackle, Free Safety, and Pass Rusher. Interior Linebacker should be fine, as McClain will be back from injury, and same goes for Corner. In free agency, I see us focusing primarily on our own free agents, but as always Ozzie will make an under-the-radar splash that will end up paying dividends.
Now, This puts us at the draft, where we will finally be picking 32! This is my favorite part of the off season, and I spent countless hours wasting time on highlights and all that junk. so here is my Ravens mock! I am factoring in compensatory draft picks for our losses of Jarret Johnson and Ben Grubbs. To be conservative I'm giving us a 3rd and 4th
First Round: Kyle Long OT/OG Oregon. Kyle Long is an athletic Offensive lineman with a strong bloodline. He is the son of Howie, and brother of Chris. He has great footwork, and long arms. However he seems a tad raw. He only started playing football after a failed baseball career, so he is athletic. He has had DUI's, which makes it likely for him to fall to 32, or maybe into the second round. If he plays G, Osemele can play T, or vis-versa.
Second Round: David Amerson DB North Carolina State. Amerson was once touted as a top 10 talent. However a lackluster year has Amerson dropping. Ozzie, will still value him, seeing him like he once was. He lacks the top line speed to cover one on one, but his ballhawk skills and play in space make him a great candidate for a safety switch. His workouts will be very important for him
Third round (A): Lavar Edwards DE LSU. LSU's starting defensive ends are both likely first rounders. Edwards Played DT on obvious passing downs, showing good penetration. Could fit well as a hand in the ground player in the 3-4
Third Round (B): Kasheem Green OLB Rutgers. Originally played safety, moved to OLB. Plays in a 4-3 but versatility would allow him to serve as both an interior linebacker, and a pass rushing specialist.
Fourth Round (A): DJ Swearinger FS South Carolina. I love this kid, Hard hitter, who gets knocked for being alittle bit of a hot head. South familiar?...Pollard... Anyone his knock is that he is a hot head, and doesn't excel in one area. Hard hitter but doesn't wrap up, and average in coverage.
Fifth Round: Denard Robinson ?? Michigan. Doesn't really have a single position, just drafted on idea that one of the coaches could mold him into some sort of specialist. Talks have it he could also play DB.
Sixth Round: Brad Madison OLB Missouri. Played the outside rush position at Mizzou. Injury riddled, but still racked up 4.5 sacks
seventh Round: Tallest player Available. Why? IR him and have him workout intensely for a year. in all goes well he will be a stud tight end in years to come.
I apologize for any grammatical errors, I've always been bad at it. I appreciate feedback. And as frustrating and disappointing as the off season and draft can be, I'm always fine once I remind myself "In Ozzie we trust"