The Baltimore Ravens currently do not have a dominant identity. Once known as a defense centric franchise, the Ravens have become a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of team over the last several seasons. Pass offense, rush offense, run defense, pass defense - in four of the five phases the Ravens are pretty good but not great.
In reality, the team has been well balanced for the majority of John Harbaugh's eight season tenure as head coach with the Ravens. That is by design and a smart way of winning football games. The early teams under Harbaugh featured the trademark Baltimore dominant run defense, the rushing offense has had some very good stretches mixed in with some mediocre seasons and the pass offense was epic during the 2012 Super Bowl run. But overall, most of Harbaugh's teams end up being ranked in the #5-#15 range for the four major phases and win games based on balance, excellent special teams and in-game coaching.
Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office have taken a similar course in building the roster this offseason through the free agents additions they have signed. Sure, the linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley could use an upgrade, but the Ravens have options between the somewhat experienced Zach Orr and Albert McClellan along with Arther Brown, a player with untapped potential. The left side of the offensive line is a bit vulnerable, yet Eugene Monroe is a capable blindside protector when healthy and a competition between Ryan Jensen and John Urschel to fill the left guard spot vacated by Kelechi Osemele should produce an experienced starter.
Cornerback is a concerning position because Shareece Wright has a limited resume of success and the slot cornerback spot is unsettled, but the Ravens have some options here too with Kyle Arrington and Will Davis. A young rush linebacker would be a great luxury to bring in and groom, however, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Za'Darius Smith should form a potent trio for at least another season. Defensive end has Lawrence Guy and Brent Urban to rotate as Chris Canty's replacements. And if the Laradrius Webb at safety experiment fails, Matt Elam, Terrance Brooks and Kendrick Lewis are all waiting in the wings.
Despite the narrative, Ozzie has rebuilt the roster this offseason and there are currently no absolutely glaring positional needs. The Ravens do need another difference maker, another player who creates a matchup advantage every week, or preferably more than one if they want to make a deep postseason run in 2016. However, the early draft picks could be utilized at several different positions. As long as the Ravens find a few early impact contributors, it does not particularly matter what side of the ball they are on if the Ravens add players to keep up with the passing orientation of today's game.
Depending on how the board falls, the Ravens could go for an offensive tackle in the first round and then follow up with a few pass rushers, reinforcing their identity as a team that wins in the trenches. Or they may decide on cornerback early and add a dynamic offensive playmaker on Day 2, attempting to become more of a speedy big play team. Maybe they will pick an inside linebacker in the first round and then bolster the safety spot later on, scrapping their 'bend don't break' strategy by eliminating the middle of the field as an area for opponents to attack.
The Ravens could go in quite a few different directions with their first few draft picks. They are truly in a position to select the best player available at many different positions. The 2016 draft will define the identity of the team for the next several seasons. They could transform into an offensive juggernaut with a focus on the line and weaponry for Joe Flacco. Or they could find the playmakers needed to begin imposing their will and intimidating other teams again with a turnover producing defense.
Most likely, they will continue to field a balanced team and let the board and 'BPA' determine the Ravens identity. Hopefully the draft unfolds in a way that enables the Ravens to select elite players at the most valuable positions who impact the passing game on both sides of the ball.