To the Ravens news...
“If you’re a coach, it hits you right in the heart,” Martindale said at a Thursday news conference at the team’s training facility. “I’ve been preparing for this job all my life and I understand what comes with this job with this great organization. I think it’s one of the great challenges there is in the National Football League.”
Martindale, the Ravens linebackers coach for the past six seasons, was hired to succeed Dean Pees, who retired a day after the conclusion of the team’s 2017 season. On the job for a little more than a week, Martindale said it’s been a humbling experience. He also acknowledged that he wasn’t sure that he’d get another chance to lead an NFL defense.
It’s pretty clear the Ravens have the best collection of not-so-hidden talents in the NFL.
Three Ravens – kicker Justin Tucker, running back Alex Collins and defensive tackle Brandon Williams – will compete on the CBS talent show “MVP: Most Valuable Performer” a week from today, Thursday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. in Los Angeles.
After a nationwide vote, the three players were named finalists to compete to find the current NFL player with the best off-the-field talent.
Could drafting a safety be the best use of the first round pick? Potentially. Elite prospect Derwin James may be the exact player the Ravens need to elevate their defense from good to great.
James is a hyper-athletic specimen in the tradition of the late, great Sean Taylor. He burst on to the scene in 2015, earning Freshman All-American honors with 9.5 tackles for a loss, five pass breakups, 4.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. A torn lateral meniscus ended his sophomore season after two games, as Derwin opted for stitches instead of the scalpel to preserve the cartilage in his knee for his professional career. Returning in 2017, James posted eleven pass breakups, 5.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, a sack and a blocked kick in route to first-team All-American recognition.
However, in this scenario, the Ravens would be selecting O’Neill over Connor Williams, Derwin James, Billy Price, Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton and Rashaan Evans.
O’Neill is an intriguing selection because of his versatility, as Kiper mentions. He can provide depth to the Ravens’ offensive line and could be a starter from day one. The decision to select O’Neill over Williams is up for debate, but this is definitely not a bad selection, in terms of need.