In what seems to be a yearly occurrence now during the Ravens OTA's, fans are getting their first glimpses of their new Ravens, not just draft picks and undrafted free agents but new comers from around the NFL brought in to help fill the voids left by free agency or upgrade at positions they were not happy with last season . There are currently open spots at right left guard, both outside linebacker positions, back up safeties, back up running back and even some tough competition for the final two corner positions.
Baltimore will use a combination of rookies, free agents, draft picks and in house developed talent to fill the void. Ravens in house veterans and sophomore players will get their shot this year to step in and fill the open positions. Paul Kruger will have a chance to play a full season and prove his second round draft status for an outside linebacker.
Kruger's main competition will be with second year undrafted free agent Albert McClellan, who seemed to have earned the trust of the coaching staff after filling in admirably at inside linebacker last season when Ray Lewis went down to injury. Also competing for the job will be rookie OLB Courtney Upshaw who was drafted to start right away. There are also two long shots to crash Kruger's coming out party are concussion case Sergio Kindle and little known Michael McAdoo out of UNC. Luckily for all other players involved, even if Kruger does end up with one of the starting positions, one of their other young players will still get their chance to start with the "big boys".
At wide receiver the first tree positions are all but locked up at this point but there will also be a strong battle between second year players Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams, rookie sixth round pick Tommy Streeter and the long shot at this point David Reed. I would have to lump Doss, Williams with Jones into the new comer category, only because we have not seen them enough to know exactly what we may be able to get out of them. Jones and Streeter represent back ups at the speedy, down field receiver positions, while Doss and Williams will be waiting for their turns on the field behind Anquan Boldin in the slot. That's not to say they can't play those outside positions but I think the coaches know exactly what they want from them.
Kelechi Osemele will most likely be the Ravens left guard week one in 2012 and it will be quite interesting to see how the offensive line works as a unit. Last season, when Ben Grubbs went down with an injury the line all but fell apart for those games in his absence. That was with a former Pro Bowl player stepping in right behind him. (Andre Gurode)
Another new Raven that could potentially make an immediate difference is Delaware product center, Gino Gradkowski. Like Osemele, Gradkowski is a versatile lineman and could end up playing with the one's before the season is over. Especially with Matt Birk's advanced age.
In the secondary there is a slew of new Ravens that are looking to make their mark on the team. Safety Sean Considine, rookie safety Christian Thompson, corner Corey Graham and corner Asa Jackson will all be fighting to get on the field on defense behind the heavily entrenched backfield of Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, Danny Gorrer, Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard. However, most of them will be playing on special teams and will be forced to show their stuff in that area at first.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the draft for the Ravens was when they traded their fifth and third round picks to move up and snag running back Bernard Pierce. Pierce will be more than a capable back up to Ray rice and could possibly challenge for a starting role at some point
Some of there guys will find ways to make an immediate impact and the trick to that is to earn the trust of the coaches in training camp and the preseason