The first round of the 2017 NFL draft will commence in exactly two weeks. As the draft process winds down, some macro thoughts...
Fact: Soloman Thomas and Takkarist McKinley have been praised for their superior effort while Malik McDowell and Taco Charlton have been criticized for taking too many plays off.
Opinion: “Motor” is the most overrated pass rushing trait.
The very best pass rushers in the NFL impact the quarterback on less than 15-percent of all dropbacks. Realistically, it does not really matter if the defender stalemates with the man blocking him or is pancaked, a loss is a loss. Total pass rush productivity is the important part.
Work ethic is definitely essential and lazy players can infect the team culture. But the motor college prospects show on tape is not necessarily indicative of their effort in the pros. Players can improve their stamina and good coaching can improve their motivation. A pass rusher who has the talent to dominate best-on-best is the sensible investment.
Fact: Christian McCaffrey, Evan Engram, Obi Melifonwu and Jabrill Peppers are regarded as some of the most versatile prospects in the draft.
Opinion: Versatility from offensive players is more valuable than defensive.
The offense dictates the play calling. Therefore, the offense can put their weapons into advantageous positions and target the specific vulnerabilities of the defenders. The offense also controls substitutions, making it simpler to accentuate the positives of their versatile players while hiding their weaknesses.
Running back committees and specialized receiver packages are probably the preferred way to organize an offensive game plan these days. But on defense, teams need players who can read, react and make plays from their position in any situation.
Fact: Two-thirds of Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects play defense.
Opinion: The Ravens should take advantage of the abundant defensive talent with their early selections.
Baltimore has been searching for a young pass rusher and cornerback to groom since 2014. One of the better defensive crops in recent memory is not the time to be clever and pass on premium positions because of late round value. Early defensive starters with Pro Bowl potential will be on the board in the second and third rounds.
From a broader perspective, the Ravens best chance to win the Super Bowl is with a dominant defense. After considerable investment in the defense this offseason, that side of the ball is close to a championship level. And the 2012 Ravens seem to be a bit of an outlier as a balanced champion.
They are one of only three teams over the last decade to win the Super Bowl without an offensive or defensive unit that finished the regular season ranked in the top five overall.