Eyes on the Competition : Baltimore Ravens

 

The Ravens almost stopped the Patriots' Super Bowl run before it got started in 2014.  Have they done enough to get over the hump?

The Ravens almost stopped the Patriots’ Super Bowl run before it got started in 2014. Have they done enough to get over the hump?

NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa

In the past it was the Colts.  The natural geography and Rex Ryan would scream it was the Jets.  But in recent playoff years, the Baltimore Ravens have been the Patriots’ biggest rival come January, and arguably the Pats’ biggest competition to earn the AFC crown.

Last year’s divisional round playoff game was arguably the greatest in Gillette Stadium’s history.  The only game to compare in my opinion was the 2011 AFC Championship game against…the Ravens.

I’m not sure if Joe Flacco is in cruise control throughout the regular season, or just simply doesn’t care.  Maybe he plays against himself every week in some undisclosed fantasy football league.

But in the playoffs he transforms into a different animal.  Fun fact coming.

Peyton Manning has gone One & Done an astonishing nine times in the post season, most of which coming as the higher seed.

Joe Flacco has never lost his first game in the post season.

Last year Joe Flacco looked something more like Joe Montana in the postseason.  After an abysmal Week 16 performance vs Houston posting just a 41.7 quarterback rating, Flacco torched the Patriots for 292 yards and four touchdowns.  He did toss up two costly interceptions late, which was a huge factor in the Patriots’ narrow escape.

The 2014 Ravens could have easily played the Seahawks in Glendale if they held on to beat New England.  As for 2015, I have some concern with the Ravens.

Free Agency – Or Lack Thereof

For starters, the Pernell McPhee loss to Chicago may prove to be massive.  The Ravens normally draft pretty well in the early rounds, and I expect an edge rusher or two in the near future coming.  Nonetheless, McPhee was a key cog on the front 7 and could prove to be a huge blow.

It’s not like McPhee was this unstoppable force who accounted for all of the Ravens’ pass rush last year. He was just third on the team posting a career high 7.5 sacks.  But his presence will surely be missed, and will be tough to replicate from a rookie or veteran free agent.

The other big name to leave town was wide receiver Torrey Smith.  Personally, I don’t view Smith’s departure to San Francisco as a major loss that some make it out to be.

I know that if the season started today Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro would start behind Steve Smith Sr.  But it doesn’t, so be patient.

Smith was always the “Not really a #1 but probably more than your average #2” kind of guy.  The Ravens never fully committed to Smith as their #1, and didn’t make a major push to keep the former second round pick around.

For the money Smith got (5 years/$40M/$22M GTD), it is justifiable to the Ravens to let him walk.  It is without question however that the Ravens will be attacking the deep wide receiver class this year, likely early and often.

A somewhat surprise loss for the Ravens in my eyes was the departure of tight end Owen Daniels.  Daniels was a key weapon in the playoffs last year, especially vs the Patriots.  He seemed to fit well with Joe Flacco and I expect Daniels to have a big year next year for Denver.

Some other losses include the electric Jacoby Jones, Bernard Pierce, Darian Stewart, Tyrod Taylor and Terrence Cody.

The Ravens were able to resign running back Justin Forsett, a big signing in my opinion, and bring in Kendrick Lewis and Matt Schaub.

As you can tell, when Matt Schaub is the second biggest free agent brought in, there hasn’t been much activity going on in Baltimore.

Ravens Draft Plans

As I said earlier, wide receivers are the biggest need on the team.  Lucky for them, the 2015 class have plenty of solid early to mid-round guys who can and probably will ultimately start for them.

The Ravens normally kill it in the early rounds.   Going back to 2006, their first round picks have been exceptional.  Haloti Ngata, Ben Grubbs, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, Jimmy Smith, Matt Elam and C.J. Mosley have all been first round selections. Outside of maybe Oher, I would consider each of those picks a big success considering a variety of factors including the overall league’s hit / miss ratio and overall draft position.

The Ravens have not selected an offensive player in the first round since 2009, when they took Ole Miss LT Michael Oher.  I expect that to change this year, but owning 10 picks makes anything is possible.

At pick 26, if they stay put, a few names stand out to me.  He’s received a bunch of Aaron Dobson comparisons for good reason, but Jaelen Strong could be the play here.  He is so similar to Dobson on tape.  Good speed but not excellent.  Struggles to create ideal separation, and doesn’t show great burst off the line.  He does show great ball skills and is a tough 1v1 play for most college corners.

I haven’t given up on Dobson yet, so I’m certainly not saying Strong isn’t going to be a productive NFL player.  Just making a simple comparison here of two very similar players.

Devin Smith could also be a good fit here.  In my opinion he’s the best deep threat in the draft and could help Ravens’ fans forget about Torrey Smith in a hurry.  #26 could be a stretch to some, not to me.

I’ve mentioned him before for other teams, but Dorial Green-Beckham could also be intriguing here.  A big bodied receiver paired with Steve Smith Sr. could be a nice 1-2 combo, and if slot a guy like Phillip Dorsett could be added later that would make a pretty formidable grouping that balances each other nicely.

A pass rusher or two must be added as well in my opinion.  This may be a pipe-dream for the second round as he could be the play at #26, but I think Virginia’s versatile Eli Harold would be a beautiful fit.  The Ravens are like the Patriots and want their defenders versatile and dangerous from multiple areas of the field, and that is Harold in a nut shell.

Arkansas’ defensive end Trey Flowers may not be as an ideal fit as Harold, but would certainly fit the bill as the situational pass rusher the Ravens are looking for.  Flowers has proven he can line up all over the defensive line and can cause havoc in the backfield.  Another thing I love about Flowers? Durability.  He missed just one game during a four year career where he appeared in 49 games, starting 39 of them.

A less talked about guy who I’m higher on compared to most is Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith.  He’s played some five-technique in a 3-4 as well as a traditional 4-3 end.  The kid has a never-ending motor who consistently makes plays in the backfield.  Sure, Bud Dupree is the better Kentucky prospect.  I just don’t think the gap between Dupree and Smith is as big as most make it out to be.

A positional grouping not talked about yet that could use some late round help is running back.  We all know the Ray Rice story, so no sense even talking about it.  Past Justin Forsett the Ravens currently have  Lorenzo Taliaferro and Fitzgerald Toussaint.

If you have read any of my articles during the season, you know that I am personally driving the Josh Robinson Bandwagon.  I think he’d be a solid fit for about 22 NFL teams, the Ravens are no different.

How about Jeremy Langford?  He isn’t overly shifty but turned heads at the combine running a 4.42 40 yard dash.  What do I love most about Langford?  He understands blitz pickups in a way that most young backs don’t.  He can catch the ball a little bet, and could be the perfect spell to Forsett.

Similar to Langford, I think Auburn star Cameron Artis-Payne could be an ideal late round spell.  I know, anybody who plays RB for Gus Malzahn at Auburn will rush for 12 touchdowns and 1,000 yards at least.  But I like Artis-Payne.  He is quick too & through the hole with a decisive running style.  He isn’t going to rival 2011 CJ2K as far as home run capability for sure, but my goodness the guy is productive.  He led the SEC last year with 1,608 rushing yards.  Both Artis-Payne and Langford can be bell cow type backs who could carry the load should anything happen to Forsett.

Cornerback is the last pressing need I see with the Ravens.  I like their starting combo of Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, but they need depth for sure.

I think some mid-round options who can be intriguing and be a nice fit are FAU’s D’Joun Smith and TCU’s Kevin White.  More so Smith, but I am confident both could start for the Ravens next September in a nickel situation and could be nice developmental guys into a potential starting role.

Later round options for the Ravens I like include Senquez Golson and Lorenzo Doss.  I think both are pretty underappreciated and could turn some heads.  If Lorenzo Doss would get this “I need to pick 6 every ball thrown my way” mentality out of his head I think he could be a really good player as I think his actual technique is better than advertised.

General Outlook

Personally, I think Pittsburgh will be kings of the North next year, except not lose to a divisional rival at home in the playoffs.  The Ravens always seem to be a thorn in the Patriots’ side no matter the circumstances, but I just see a roster who has a lack of talent at some key positions and will have to rely on some rookies to fill in the holes.

To an extent, that is a direct product of Joe Flaccos whopping 6 year $120.6M contract (2nd highest in the league).  Listen, the Ravens were handcuffed and had to pay Flacco the king’s ransom.  It’s just unfortunate and it causes an overall weaker team.  The contract is less ridiculous however when you consider Jay Cutler’s 7 year $126.7M deal and Colin Kaepernick’s 6 year $114M abomination.

Can they make the playoffs?  One would assume the AFC West will get at least two teams in the playoffs with Denver, San Diego and even Kansas City.  The AFC East will be vastly improved with Miami, Buffalo and New York all making some legitimate noise in the Free Agency period.

The AFC North themselves have three playoff contenders with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

The Colts will be there in the AFC South, and while the Texans may not make the playoffs they certainly won’t be any fun to play with Watt & Clowney barreling in at opposing quarterbacks.

As you can see, there are about ten teams playing musical chairs for six spots.  I think Baltimore will be in contention come Week 16 and Week 17 for a wild card, and that’s as bold as I’ll get as we still are in April.

If they can reach the playoffs, Joe Flacco will transform into Joe Cool and all bets are off.  Truly, Baltimore will be one of the more interesting teams to follow in the coming season.

 

Up next on Eyes on the Competition : we bounce it back into the division – Miami.

 

Previously on Eyes on the Competition : Colts, Bills, Chargers, Texans

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52 Responses to “Eyes on the Competition : Baltimore Ravens”

  1. KNOWLEDGE says:

    As far as TE’s go, Blake Bell would be in an ideal fit. He is raw at TE, but he has plenty of time to develop. I also think he could be used this year in multiple roles, such as red zone or short yardage situations as an H-Back, or even direct snap packages out of the gun. At Oklahoma he was unstoppable inside the 5 yard line. At 6’6 260 he is a load. Even if they only use that shotgun formation twice all year, it gives your opponents to spend time preparing for it.

    KNOWLEDGE MOCK DRAFT

    1. Jaelen Strong WR- Bill has seemed to fall in love with Devante Parker. I can’t blame him, I have Parker as the best offensive player in the draft. But it will take alot to move up to the 11th pick. So I see him drafting Strong or DGB. I think Strong is the pick that is more safe. Even though they might have to move up a few picks to draft him.

    2. Eric Rowe CB – At close to 6’1, he is long and athletic and would be a steal in the late 2nd round

    3.Grady Jarrett DT- Can play both the 1 technique and 3 techniques. Fits perfectly into what BB is looking for in a DT. Someone with great burst and get pressure up the middle. Jarrett fits the bill.

    3. TJ Yeldon RB- At 6’2 220, he is powerful runner that can also catch the ball well. I see alot of Eddie George in Yeldon.

    4. Laken Tomlinson G- Consensus 1st team All-American and fills a huge position of need. In a draft with a ton of guards, a plug-in play can be picked in the 4th round.

    4. Markus Golden DE/OLB- Shane Ray gets all the attention but Golden has 33 TFL and 16.5 sacks the past 2 years. Better in a 4-3 with his hand in the dirt. Regardless, the kid can cause havoc in the backfield

    6th. Blake Bell TE- Read above

    6th. Austin Hill WR- In 2012 caught 80 passes for 1400 yards. Missed 2013 with torn ACL. In 2014 his numbers dropped. I think he is worth the risk in the 6th round pick hoping he can regain his form prior to his injury.

    7th. Xavier Williams DT- Another big body to strengthen the middle of the defense.

    • Rob says:

      Jarrett is undersized

    • steve earle says:

      I have to admit I have no idea what BB is going to do with his draft I just hope it isn’t what you did with your mock. Taking two WR’s one at #32 at a position already well stocked is not smart or cost effective. I’d be okay with a WR on day 3 I even have a couple on my board But… Then I’d argue some of the placements your picking at. Rowe may be taken in the 2nd though I’m thinking he will likely end up a saf in the pros so his value is likely better as a 3rd. I also like Golden as do you but I’m convinced we should make him our 2nd at # 64 after that slide Rowe in as a 3rd even if we need to move up some in that round. I don’t like the DT Jarrett I feel there are better choices because he’s not going to be very good against the run imo. There are better all around d-linemen still on the board. If you want Tomlinson you will have to move him up but that means making some decisions that you may not like. I just don’t think this mock is very realistic or well thought out but I may be proven wrong yet. BB has a way of doing that to me.

  2. Ryan says:

    There are two massive guys who play different positions who I have some questions on: FS Durell Eskridge and WR Darren Waller. Both seem to be candidates for our picks at the end of the 4th and the top of the 6th.

    The knock on Eskridge is that he is unpolished to a certain degree, and despite his good stats in terms of tackles and interceptions scouts are unsure if he can play any kind of well-rounded game. Do you guys know much about Eskridge and if so, do you think that he is worth an investment due to size or not due to technical failings?

    As for Waller, the problem could simply be volume of targets and coaching. In Georgia Tech’s run-first, run-second, and run-third offense he probably lacked advanced coaching. However, he compares well to prospective first-rounder Dorial Green-Beckham. In reference to Green-Beckham, Waller is 1 inch taller, 1 pound heavier, has arms 3/4 inch longer, and has the same size hands. Also, Waller outperformed Green-Beckham in every event except for the Bench Press and the Short Shuttle, so the athleticism is there. Do you guys feel that he is worth picking at the end of the fourth or earlier as a high-ceiling player or not?

    • steve earle says:

      I’d like Waller in the 4th but not interested in Eskridge very much. Waller’s size/ speed combo would make for some great mismatches. He may take some work to get up to speed but I like the perceived upside. Good eye Ryan.

  3. Russell says:

    #32- Laken Tomlinson, OG I have Tomlinson starting at ROG, with Wendel moving to LOG. IF Connolly resigns he backs-up at OG/C.
    #64 – Zadarius Smith, DE IF Chandler Jones is not resigned next year, Smith is my guy to replace Jones. I watched alot of tape on him, and I had him in my Oct. Patriots Mock. Similar player to Jones.
    #96 – Charles Davis Tull, OLB Future starter at LB, day one starter on speical teams. Bye bye LB Chris White
    #97 – Adrian Amos, S /CB At 6’+ and 215 lbs running a 4.38-4.40 40yd,IMO, Amos is a GEM in this draft who is over looked, solid tackler, smart , lots of experince, and I like him as Chung’s replacement, next year.
    #101- Kenny Bell , WR 6’1″ 197lbs 4.4 40yd, good hands, speed, outstanding blocker. Bye Bye WR Dobson.
    #131 – Kristjan Sokoli, DT Outstanding prospect, with a strong future on the Patriots D-line.
    #177- Julian Wilson, CB 6’2″ 205lbs nice size, A prospect who will need work, but he looks like he has a future, ran better at his pro day 4.46, combine 4.52.
    #219- Jeff Luc , LB This is a prospect IMO , has a bright future in the NFL 6’+ 256lbs, a solid tackler, needs work in coverage, but is a smart football player.
    #253 – Brey Cook , OL A prospect I like very much, at 6’6″ 315lbs has played both OT spots, as well as OG . Bye Bye OL Davey.

    • Thomas says:

      Laken Tomlison is a second rounder maybe a third.

      Why use a second and third choice in position where we already have players instead positions where we are thin? Just because you like the player…

      Thank god those are only mock drafts

      • Russell says:

        I HIGLY doubt Tomlinson is available at #64, let alone the 3d round. I feel BB could tade back into the early second and get Tomlinsn. Cameron Erving is on my Patriot draft board at #32 as well, I doubt he drops there, however.

      • steve earle says:

        I have to agree with Russell that Tomlnson will be gone before #64. Though if BB wants to start his draft addressing the o-line he could be expected to trade back into a high 2nd and high 3rd for # 32.

    • Rob says:

      Lol, I completely agree with Thomas.

      First things first kid. IF Jones isn’t resigned next year, next year we deal with this problem, because we have a lot of other problems, like Thomas said below, offensive and defensive line and secondary. If we would be in a better position then we should think in next year problems.

      That theory: let’s improve our pass rush!!! will improve our hurries and sacks, but we gonna complain with a shit secondary, a shit run defense (Branch is a fat old) a lot of touchdowns and yards

    • Ryan says:

      My thoughts on this mock:

      It seems like Tull’s stock has risen above where we would take him as an obvious upgrade at backup linebacker. With the pick that he is taking up we could grab a corner who could contribute immediately or a defensive tackle who could start year 2. Finding starters at these positions should trump linebacker depth.

      Is Z’Darius Smith really the best pass-rusher available at the end of the 2nd? He seems like a mid-3rd rounder to me value-wise. If Nate Orchard, Preston Smith, and Danielle Hunter are gone he probably is the best option at DE available, but why not use this pick to take advantage of talent available rather than reach for a guy who might not be worth the slot? Smith might even last to pick 96, and if he doesn’t then Anthony Chickillo, Lynden Trail, Lorenzo Mauldin, and Markus Golden all could.

      I really think that there will be an impact defender like Odighizuwa, Peters, or Thompson who falls to us in the first. I think that we should take a chance and leave the need at guard for the second round.

      • Ryan says:

        All of that said, the last 6 picks look great to me. Amos and Wilson are guys that I believe have big futures and Luc might just be polished enough (albeit physically limited) to contribute immediately. I’d like to use our later picks to trade up for impact guys but if we them in this fashion I would have zero complaints.

    • steve earle says:

      If Bill were to take Tomlinson at #32 I wouldn’t have a problem though at that point it might be smarter to trade down the #32 for a high 2nd and high 3rd. There are or will be 5 or 6 likely year 1 starters at OG’s still on the board at the end of the 1st rd so no rush if he wants to go that route early. As for Windell moving to LG that makes me shudder. We really need two OGs either by the draft, FA, or maybe if Fletcher or Cannon can step up though not holding my breath there.

  4. Dan Sullivan says:

    The three CB’S pats signed with give them more flexibility in draft.
    Patriots Mock Draft
    1 Landon Collins SS Alabama
    2 Anthony Chickillo DE Miami Florida
    3 MyCole Pruitt TE Southern Illinois
    3 David Cobb RB Minnesota
    4 Chris Conley WR Georgia
    4 Amarlo Herrera ILB Georgia
    6 Derrick Malone OLB Oregon
    7 Quinton Spain G West Virginia
    7 Antoine Everett G McNeese St.

    • Thomas says:

      Awful mock

      Three CBs signed, but none of them are truly starters and there is a real chance they will not make the final cut.

      Our main needs: cornerbacks, defensive and offensive line. None of them truly addressed in your mock, but you draft a TE.

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        Hello Thomas,

        First I think you are going to be very surprised with Fletcher, McClain and Chekwa.
        Drafting just for position can really hurt you say if you take a position player and you passed on a Jerry Rice. What would your Patriots Mock Draft be?

        Enjoy the Draft!
        Dan

        • steve earle says:

          Surprised will be the right word Dan though I would welcome that kind of surprise. I like Fletcher as a swing OT who can come in as a power blocking TE in short yardage/ goal line plays. He did that very well last season and as he develops could eventually fill a starting OT roll.

  5. John says:

    Heard BB is looking for a WR early. If that’s the case, this is what I would prefer:

    1. Breshad Perriman WR
    2. Grady Jarrett DT
    3. Jarvis Harrison OG
    3. Daryl Williams OG

    • John says:

      Or something like:

      1.) Goldman DT
      2.) Dorsett/Coates/Conley WR
      3.) Harrison OG
      3.) Williams

      I think you have to take the OVs, interviews, and workouts all into consideration. BB has been pretty straightforward with all his prospects he’s interested in. I know that a lot of people are clamoring for guys like Greene, Hardy, etc., but I think that Coates, Conley, Perriman, and Dorsett are more plausible options. Worth-noting, too, is that Conley and Coates are both viewed as extreme high-character guys, especially Conley.

      • Ryan says:

        I don’t value Conley as a second-round pick. Sure, he’s extremely athletic and has good size but his actual receiving ability is in question. Assuming that Cooper, White, Parker, Green-Beckham, and Perriman are all gone, here is how I would rate receiving options in the second round:
        Jaelen Strong
        Nelson Agholor
        Devin Smith
        Sammie Coates
        Tyler Lockett
        Philip Dorsett

        I tend to value the developed receivers over the project talents in the second. The third round is where I’m willing to compromise on that.

        Overall we can still net an impactful receiver in the 2nd unless there is a huge run of them before pick 64. It will not be the position of most need but could add an explosive player to our offense.

      • Russell says:

        IMO, if BB drafts a WR he would look at a prospect like Kenny Bell 6’1″ 195lbs. 4.4 40yd. A solid route runner, catches the ball well, and maybe the best blocking WR in College football. Bell could be drafted in the 3-4th round I think.
        I would be shocked if BB drafted a WR #32, BUT do think he drafts one some were in this draft.

      • acm says:

        I agree with you on the WR options. Prospects like Greene, Hardy, Bell will be the better NFL players down the line, imo. However, at the WR position BB has exibited the tendency to go for the high character athlete with upside, who usually don’t have much of a grasp on the intricacies of the WR position (even at the college level, forget about the NFL). Thus, I think prospects like COates, Conley, Perriman, Williams are more likely targets for the Pats at WR and unfortunately also very likely to join the WR Bust HOF at Gillette.

        • John says:

          Out of all of them, I actually think Perriman and Dorsett will both be really good in the NFL. I love that Conley has high character, and Coates is as tough as they come, but I just think Conley will struggle. He’s just a pure vertical threat. Coates is just raw. He’s great after the catch but the key is just getting him the ball, which means he has to run better routes for separation. Could be a monster in time, but, unfortunate, we can’t develop WRs.

        • John says:

          In your opinion, which would you rather have?

          Scenario 1: Perriman and Jarrett
          Scenario 2: Goldman and Dorsett (or Coates)

          I personally like Goldman and Dorsett. Dorsett is sneaky good. He’s not just a slot guy, although he’s a killer on short-crossing routes. Great speed, can run a route-tree, etc., it’s just that he’s small.

        • acm says:

          to be perfectly honest, neither. I like Goldman, just not sure I like him enough as a 1st round pick. This is a draft class deep at the DT position; not sure Goldman in the first represents enough of a value as opposed to a number of other guys later on.
          Perriman is an athlete with upside but see him bust out in the Pats system. He ran a good tree in college but needs to improve in many areas and as you said, Pats just don’t seem to be able to develop these guys. Coates is similar, with less of an athletic upside and less polished of a route-runner. As for Dorsett, I struggle to see how he is any different than Josh Boyce.

          WRs I’d go for are Hardy, Bell, Smelter(could be a great value if he falls as expected) or McBride, starting from late 3rd/early 4th round range. Best guess is, they don’t draft either of these guys.

    • steve earle says:

      No reason to think a WR early would be a smart pick we already have an abundance at the position. Better to go to a position of actual need like CB, d or o-line all three of which need two each.

  6. Kevan says:

    What is the most likely position BB and pats double dip at? I could see 2 Guards and 2 DTs as a possibility. Maybe one early one later on. My question is, is anyone else worried about Chung now that Revis and Browner are gone? Is T.Wilson or Harmon ready to play SS if need be. Obviously pats need a CB, but is there any chance pats take an Eric Rowe or Damarious Randall to play SS. I’m interested to see if they take a one gap penetrater at DT, or a more run stuffing 2 gap guy. This draft has the potential to be pats best.

    • Greg says:

      I believe it’s guard. We already have Siliga and Branch as run stuffers and Easley and Chris Jones as gap penetrator. At guard our depth is more thin. Surely he will draft a run stuffer capable to create a havoc like Wilfork because Branch isn’t getting younger, but remember, last year 1st was a gap penetrator.
      I’m worried too. Chung made a great season, but he is better in a man coverage. We probably will play a hybrid or even zone coverage. But I believe Eric Rowe is being overhyped, if we gonna draft a SS, I prefer Jaquiski Tartt.

      • Kevan says:

        Greg who do you like more Malcolm brown or Eddie Goldman? Browns film shows he can do a lil bit of run stuffing and penetrating. No way he is there at 32 though. I think a Xavier cooper, Michael Bennett, Grady Jarrett type is on the way. Yes we drafted Easely but in a year you lose Revis, Browner you could add Sheard,Easely,X to the pass rush. I agree I think Rowe is over hyped but I like his game, he moves good for a guy 205-210, Safety/corner experience, pretty versatile. Same for Randall to a lesser extent. I’m all for gettin a DB with size though if Tartt is the real deal. We’ll see. I just like the safety corner experience, in today’s game you almost need all the Dbs able to play corner, lol.

        • Greg says:

          I prefer Goldman, but I believe both will be gone at 32. Maybe Carl Davis is a more plausible option.
          I see this in a different way. Improving our pass rush will make the secondary’s job easier, but how much will a rookie contribute to this? I believe that now, a rookie will be a instant starter at CB but not at DT, so I prefer to see our 1st pick used in a cornerback. Even the players, at 32 we can get a Jalen Collins, a better player than all DT probably available.
          I agree that in today game all DB must have ball skills, but I prefer a corner safety and a hitter safety, like Chancellor and Thomas in Legion of Boom. We already have a corner safety type. You prefer the corner safety experience, I think it’s too passive, I prefer more agressive, like the best secondary of the last years.

        • Kevan says:

          I like brown man, but I agree both will be gone. I also like the idea of takin corner 1st pick. With the hitter safety thing I just see it being considerably more difficult to find one of those guys. There is only one Can Chancellor that’s why there is only one legion of boom. If Tartt can be that dude then heck yea but the game is just so much more spread out and yea more finesse but it’s easier to get hybrid to jump down on a slot WR than I hitter safety type. Also when you have 2 studs at Cb then it’s easier to have that big dude cuz u don’t have to rely so much on coverage. Which goes back to being worried bout Chung again now that Revis and Browner are gone.

        • Greg says:

          Of course!!! If we go to a zone coverage I believe that we gonna need this corner safety type or use Harmon instead Chung. I like Harmon, but for me he is a backup only. If we stay in a man coverage then Chung contract’s make sense. This will be decided by the type of CB that Belichick will choose, but even if we stay in a man coverage, I don’t trust in Chung. I think we need a safety, the type depends the scheme and players available, as only Tartt is a hitter in this draft…

        • Kevan says:

          What round do you think Tartt will get taken?

        • Greg says:

          3rd round

      • Ryan says:

        The safeties of this draft are actually quite an interesting crop. On my short list of safeties to take a look at are Jaquiski Tartt, Ibraheim Campbell, Anthony Harris, Cody Prewitt, Durrell Eskridge and Clayton Geathers. I do not believe that we should bother drafting a smaller coverage safety with McCourty firmly tethered (for this reason, Harris should only be considered if he has potential to bulk up). All of these guys have a slightly different skillset but some of them should be available in the 3rd-4th round range (the earliest I think that we should consider a safety) and all of them have the body type to deliver a big hit. Along with a pass rush, the right safety could rely push our defense to greatness. Belicheck has already failed on this twice with Harmon and Wilson, but a larger safety could provide what they lack.

      • MM-II says:

        REPLY TO Greg:

        I agree that the man-coverge/zone-coverage thing probably isn’t an either/or situation. It seemed to me that what the Revis-Browner combo offered more than anything was the opportunity to play more consistent PRESS-man against the X and Z, with one CB (Revis particularly) sometimes singled-up on/shadowing a specific WR, regardless where he lined up.

        But the Pats basic coverage scheme transitioned from almost exclusively zone-read to primarily man-coverage on the edges, with a disguised mix of zone and man underneath, back in 2011 (McCourty’s second season). Though this was only modestly effective at best through 2013, BB was persistent with it, so it seems unlikely to me that he’ll make a radical reversion to primarily zone-read across the board due to the loss of Revis and Browner. Dennard was pretty good in man at RCB in 2013. Ryan was pretty inconsistent in man, though, subbing for Talib, but seemed at least somewhat improved last season.

        What we may see mostly is a small step back from such consistent press/bump-and-run at the LoS (at least from the boundary CBs), and I’m not sure that any of the current group would be trusted to shadow a specific WR all over the field, though Butler showed some potential at this in 2014 and Arrington may continue to shadow a Y-type WR on occasion. McCourty seems likely to continue playing mostly deep zone-read while everyone else, including Chung/Harmon/Wilson and the LBs, may keep playing a mix of man and zone with a lot of pre-snap mis-direction.

        One other thing that Revis & Browner brought to the table that’s largely ignored in analyses, but seems of critical importance to BB, was their ability to diagnose run and play very effective edge-contain. Dennard showed good chops for this in 2013, but Ryan, again, was kinda inconsistent. Arrington excels at run-defense out of zone or man, as do Chung and McCourty. Harmon as been very good, as well. When evaluating boundary-CB prospects for this draft, THIS aspect of a prospect’s tape may be more critical than a lot of folks realize. I think a guy who’s exceptional in this area, but who has merely “good” coverage skills, will get a higher grade from BB than will a guy with “elite” coverage skills but who can’t (or won’t) play the run effectively.

        BTW, I also don’t think that Chung’s situation is exactly either/or. I think Chung has become better in man-coverage than in zone, but he wasn’t bad at all in the latter in 2014. I think that Chung’s overall focus and awareness has improved dramatically. Chung v2.0 is simply much more assignment-dedicated and much less inclined to gamble. Harmon was maybe slightly better than Chung in zone-coverage, but Harmon’s man-coverage still needed some work, I thought, so, for now he’s maybe better-optimized as a “back” safety than up front in certain situations.

        • Greg says:

          I completely agree with you.

          At the beginning, Patriots is gonna run a cornerback by committee approach, but as the season develop, I think Butler and the draft pick will dominate. As MM-II rightly said, Ryan was pretty inconsistent, but I liked him as a backup in the slot.

          I agree that we will see a step back from press at least in the beginning and if belichick doesn’t trust Chung even without Revis and Browner considering his flaws, he wouldn’t give him that contract. There are reports that Patriots are taking a close look at Tartt, but I don’t believe we gonna draft him, given Chung’s contract and how poor this safety’s class is this year, we gonna stick with him.

          My biggest concern is with a rookie corner and a sophomore, we gonna need more help from both safeties. McCourty is capable to cover all field, Harmon will take the charges in cover situations and Chung in Man situations, but again, given Chung’s contract we gonna stick with him but I don’t believe he is good enough

    • steve earle says:

      I’m thinking OG also. A DT and a DE or someone who could play either is also possible. If Easley comes back healthy and continues playing DE then a pure DT likely. Two CB’s also in the running and I see no reason Bill wouldn’t double up at both CB and OG.

  7. Gregory says:

    Hey guys,

    Which possibility do you think it’s better and which is more plausible for guard:

    Cedric Ogbuehi (Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly and many others played tackle in the college) or Laken Tomlison?

    Maybe we can even get Ogbuehi with our 3 rounder

    • acm says:

      I’d say Laken Tomlinson is more of a Patriots-type player. He is more of a road-grader type OG, bigger, heavier, not as mobile than what the Pats generally look for at the position but if they intend to change their OL scheme, then I can see him high on their board.

      Ogbuehi lacks functional strength and the right character for a NFL lineman imo. Can’t say I am a big fan be it for the OG or OT (down the line) position. And also have a hard time pinning down his draft stock. Not sure he drops to late 3rd, though.

    • steve earle says:

      Agree with acm because all our div opponents have beefed up their inside d-line to try to get up into TBs face. Bill needs to counter and get a power running game going too.

  8. David says:

    Joe Flacco has never lost his first game in the post season.

    he is the star of the season

    As for 2015,we all are more voncerned with the Ravens.

  9. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft.
    1 Bernardrick McKinney LB Mississippi St.
    2 Devin Funchess WR Michigan
    3 Marcus Hardison DT Arizona St.
    3 Jamil Douglass G Arizona St.
    4 Steven Nelson CB Oregon St.
    4 Ifo Ekpre Olomu CB Oregon
    6 Andy Gallick C Boston College
    7 Dreamius Smith RB West Virginia
    7 John Timu ILB Wahington

    Red Sox looking very good so far.

  10. Daniel R. Martin says:

    I know it isn’t a position of need, and I realize CB is a MUCH weaker position. But how much better is our team with Todd Gurley on it? Would anyone in the community be happy if he were selected with the 32nd pick? What kind of package would BB need to put together to trade up early enough in the 2nd to get him? I have a feeling the addition of Scott Chandler alongside Gronk is going to be nigh unstoppable! That duo, along with Julian Edelman, Amendola and Blount are going to be effective. But I wonder how many people think a dynamic, dual threat in the backfield, such as Gurley, would really put the Offense over the top. Is he even worth the risk with his bum knee? Also, could it be that he has been overly hyped, considering his replacement performed just as well.

    • Roxy Bob says:

      Hi Dan. Why would you want to risk taking a player who is not a priority and coming off a severe knee injury, mind you, with your #32 pick? Top backs like Murray, McCoy , Bell, Lynch, Charles and the list goes on; were all pick in the second rd or later. If you want a dual threat back, David Johnson from Northern Iowa is a more likely candidate for Bill Belechik’s “value” philosophy. He’s a 6’1″ 230lb converted WR who ran a 4.5 forty at the combine. He may be around for the compensatory pick #97.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Hey Bob. I’m not necessarily saying I would prefer BB to draft him there. I am just wondering how much more explosive our offense might be with a player that has Gurley’s skill set. That is if Gurley is indeed the special kind of talent many people seem to think that he is. Personally, I have doubts.

    • jim r says:

      I would be surprised if they took a running back before pick 101, then again I thought that about the QB position last year. He works in mysterious ways

    • steve earle says:

      Not much if the D can’t stop the other team. How many playoff and SBs did we lose because our D couldn’t get the other offense off the field? Gurley may be a great prospect the question is even if possible could we afford to take him over someone who would have a greater overall impact for the team?

  11. Roxy Bob says:

    Why no mention of them not having Nata or Codv in the middle of the defense anymore? I have the Ravens taking a run stuffer in the 1st rd. Eddie Goldman or Malcolm Brown if he slips thru the cracks.

    • CJ Sousa says:

      Thanks for the read, Rob. Certainly possible, but with Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams, with decent depth behind them, I view a more traditional edge rush as the true pressing need. I don’t think the Ravens trade Ngata without plans behind him.

  12. Russell says:

    I agree with the Eli Harold pick at #26, Danielle Hunter could be a possiblity as well. At #58 I have them taking WR Coates, or OL Ogbuehi. At #90 I have them , RB Javoris Allen, or RB Jay Ajayi. And at #125 OL Arie Kouandijo or OT Corey Robinson.

    • Jim R says:

      Ravens usually do a great job of drafting. They will be a tough out for the Pats again this year

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