The Baltimore Ravens are the world champions but that doesn't mean they don't have a boat load of needs heading into the 2013 season. Their biggest need, quarterback, was recently filled. Now, the organization needs to figure out what their next big project will be.
The Ravens are extremely this at inside linebacker. They could use some help at rush end and nose tackle. They could possibly need another starting safety if they cannot work out a mutually beneficial deal with free safety Ed Reed. Not to mention the fact that they have a giant hole to fill at left tackle. A position in which, sadly, Michael Oher has shown he is just not the answer.
Many of the local Ravens media have labeled the re-signing of Dannell Ellerbe the teams next big move and I am inclined to agree. Not that Ellerbe is the best player they may lose but he just may be the best player at the right price at a position of need for the team. Middle linebackers just don't fetch the huge contract offers that successful edge pass rushers and "supposed" number one corners. That's what the Ravens would be facing in the battles for Paul Kruger and/or Cary Williams. There is a chance that Williams might not like the offers that he sees on the open market considering he is no where near a true shut down corner but there are a lot of teams out there with boat loads of money to spend and Cary's numbers looked good on paper last season so a team like the Washington Redskins, who love to over-pay middle of the road talent, could price the Ravens out quickly even if that price isn't exactly what Williams was hoping for.
The position in which the Ravens should set their sights on now could and maybe should be left tackle. Last season the one move to put Bryant McKinnie back at left tackle solidified the Ravens offensive line and propelled Joe Flacco to Super Bowl MVP, "elite" stardom.
The team could focus on this area in the draft but to get anyone that could step in week one and contribute they would need to trade up in the first round most likely. This is an option I could really see happening if the right player falls to a certain point, see Michael Oher a few years ago, although I'd hope for better results. We have enough right tackles.The Ravens have 11 picks in this years draft and I'm sure they wouldn't mind sacrificing a few here and there to get players they covet.
Their other option would be to pick up a more raw talent later in the draft and perhaps try and hang onto McKinnie for one more season. I like this idea, that is, if McKinnie can somehow grow an off season workout plan. The offensive line has already lost their leader in Matt Birk. They may need McKinnie to help glue the current group together as they transition to their younger squad.
I know safety Ed Reed is, and very well should be a high priority on this list. I'm just afraid nostalgia may be playing more of a role with many people around the organization than actual play on the field. The Ravens will make a valiant effort to keep Reed here in Charm City but in the end I don't think they will choose giving him everything he wants if it will hurt their attempts to sure up the left tackle and inside linebacker position. As important as Reed is to this organization, left tackle is more a priority in what the Ravens wish to do moving forward and where else can you find the quality of play that McKinnie is capable of for the price he will settle for? Ellerbe on the other hand is a young player who has shown dominance at times and still has his best years ahead of him. He also plays a position that the Ravens need badly at the moment.