The Baltimore Ravens went from being Super Bowl champs to a shell of their former selves in less than half of a year. A lot of that had to do with shipping Anquan Boldin off to the 49ers, while they also lost several defensive veterans. Joe Flacco also played like crap due to Boldin’s absence and Dennis Pitta being out most of the year with a hip injury.
To make matters worse, Baltimore was shaky across the o-line and their running game was borderline pathetic for the majority of the season. Things should be better in 2014 and they have the core talent to make another deep run. However, they still need to add some key talent in specific spots. Let’s find out exactly where as we prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft:
Offensive needs: OT, WR, RB
Baltimore brought back Eugene Monroe but lost Michael Oher in free agency. They’ll need another tackle and should look to acquire one early in this year’s draft. Taylor Lewan could be a fit if he falls far enough, but buzz is starting to make it sound like he won’t last past the top 10 picks. If that’s the case, Baltimore might just wait until round two to snatch up someone like Morgan Moses or Antonio Richardson.
Steve Smith was a sound addition and Dennis Pitta will be a full go for 2014, but Joe Flacco clearly needs more help in the passing game. The Ravens will look to add another receiver at some point, with Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin and Marqise Lee as logical options in round one. Baltimore might end up waiting a round until the next round, where the underrated Jordan Matthews could be a fit.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were banged up and pretty much just terrible in 2013, so the Ravens might look to add help at running back this year. It won’t be a reach made early in the draft, but perhaps they snag someone like Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey in the second or third round. Jeremy Hill is a downhill runner that would also be worth a look in the same draft range.
Defensive needs: DE, S, CB
Arguably their biggest hole at the moment, defensive end is a major need after Arthur Jones headed to the Colts. This could have the Ravens looking at a 3-4 defensive end right away, which should put the likes of Ra’Shede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan on their radar in round one.
Matt Elam should still be able to be the guy at one safety spot, but the other one is still somewhat up for grabs and if Elam isn’t the guy, they’ll need another answer in their back pocket. The first round could be the spot for this position, as well, with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor likely being at the top of their draft board. The Ravens could wait until round two, as well, where there are several more options.
Corner and outside linebacker could both use some depth. Corey Graham signed with the Bills and Courtney Upshaw has been a disappointment. These needs aren’t as pressing as defensive end and safety, but Baltimore should add a body for both positions at some point in the 2014 NFL Draft.
*Photo credit – Jeff Weese wiki commons.