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Baltimore Ravens Team Needs

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Baltimore Ravens Team Needs
By: Staff

At this point in the Ravens dying season, Kyle Boller’s future with the team is still up in the air. He missed the entire first half of the season after suffering a foot injury in Baltimore’s opening day loss to the Colts. Since he regained his starting job from Anthony Wright, Boller has been far from impressive. With only a few games remaining in the season, Boller must prove to team management, coaches and to his teammates that he can be the Ravens starting quarterback heading into the 2006 season. If Boller continues his struggles, the Ravens will likely be looking for a new starting quarterback. Trading for a top quarterback, such as Philip Rivers will surely be considered during the off season. However, if the Ravens do in fact need a new starting quarterback and they cannot add through a trade of some sort, there are still a few options available in the draft. Obviously, any team with the slightest need for a quarterback would jump at the chance to take Matt Leinart. If the Ravens find themselves with the opportunity to draft Leinart, it is highly unlikely they would pass on such a gem. Vince Young and Brady Quinn, if they decide to declare eligible for the draft, could also be possibilities. If the Ravens pass on quarterback with their first selection, Ozzie Newsome could look to the second round and select a quarterback like Jay Cutler out of Vanderbilt.

Looking ahead to the off season, the Baltimore Ravens management will be faced with an intriguing dilemma at the runningback position. Jamal Lewis has been sputtering all season long has he plays through the worst statistical season of his career. After 11 games this season, Lewis has gone over 100 yards only once and has scored only 2 touchdowns. Chester Taylor who has played as the Ravens 3rd down back and occasionally spelled Lewis this season, has been the much more productive back when he has seen carries. Both of these players will be unrestricted free agents following the 2005 season. It appears the only way the Ravens will be able to keep both Lewis and Taylor would be to place the franchise tag on Lewis and sign Taylor to a longer deal. However, Jamal Lewis has already made numerous statements to the media saying he does not want the franchise tag. Another thing to keep in mind is the strained relationship between Lewis and Ozzie Newsome. Lewis has clearly been unhappy with Newsome this season, mainly related to the fact that Lewis claimed he was promised a new contract and did not receive it. Either way, it would not be a surprise if either Taylor or Lewis did not return to the team in 2006. The Ravens would certainly jump at the chance to take Reggie Bush, as just about any team would. There is a chance that the Ravens could take one of the other top runningbacks such as DeAngelo Williams out of Memphis or Laurence Maroney out of Minnesota, however that is probably unlikely. What would make more sense for the Ravens would be to take a back somewhere in the middle of the draft. Depending on who might be available, the Ravens could look at backs like Gerald Riggs Jr. from Tennessee, Michael Bush from Louisville, or DonTrelle Moore from New Mexico.

Offensive tackle
Offensive tackle is likely to be a major need for the Ravens heading into the offseason. Right tackle Orlando Brown is almost a sure thing to retire, and even if he decides not to retire, which is highly unlikely, Brown would probably be cut anyway. Jonathan Ogden is not what he used to be. Ogden is still a very good tackle; however age and injuries are clearly beginning to catch up to him. While it seems unlikely, there have been rumors that Ogden could contemplate retirement following this season. Ogden is no longer the best tackle in the game, he has suffered a rash of nagging injuries recently and Ogden is also unhappy with team management for cutting his younger brother during training camp. Retirement for Ogden seems unlikely, but it is certainly something that Ozzie Newsome must keep in mind. Another more likely scenario for next season would be moving Ogden over to right tackle to replace Orlando Brown. Ogden may not like the move, but it would probably benefit both he and the team more. If this occurred, last year’s 2nd round draft pick Adam Terry could take over for Ogden at left tackle. Either way, the Baltimore Ravens without a doubt need to add a young talented tackle. In such a strong draft class, there are plenty of opportunities available in the 1st and 2nd rounds such as D’Brickshaw Ferguson out of Virginia, Jonathan Scott from Texas, Joe Thomas from Wisconsin, or Darren Colledge from Boise State. Whomever the Ravens decide to select could either start immediately or wait a season or two before taking a starting spot.

The Ravens current center Mike Flynn has been miserable this season and the play of both guards have been far form what has been expected in the past. As of now, Flynn is a likely cap casualty for the Ravens. Edwin Mulitalo isn’t aas likely to be cut, but he needs to be in much better shape going into next season if he wants to keep his starting job. The Ravens would like to hope that last year’s 4th round choice Jason Brown could take over at center for Mike Flynn, however if the team feels he cannot, or if they want to keep him as more of a backup to guard, Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens could look to add a center in the early rounds such as Greg Eslinger from Minnesota or Mike Degory from Florida. The team could also add a guard as the eventual replacement of Edwin Mulitalo and it would be a bonus if the guard could also play tackle, such as Oklahoma’s Davin Joseph.

Defensive back
Going into the season, it appeared that on paper, the Ravens had the best secondary in the league, however injuries have quickly exposed the Ravens secondary and its lack of depth. Ed Reed has been injured since week 5, forcing Chad Williams into his first role as a starter. Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle have each dealt with various minor injuries so far, not costing them any entire games, but costing them valuable playing time in which the 35 and 38 year old Dale Carter and Deion Sanders had to take their place. When the Ravens played at Cincinnati, Will Demps was the next casualty going down with a torn ACL. The Ravens secondary has been blown open with such a lack of talent and youth. Dale Carter and Deion Sanders are both likely headed for retirement, not that it matters, because they probably wouldn’t be back anyway. However what does matter is that Will Demps and his backup Chad Williams will both be unrestricted free agents. If Demps and Williams both depart via free agency, the Ravens would be left with only 4 members of the secondary returning for next season in corners Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle and safeties Ed Reed and BJ Ward. The Ravens will be in desperate need of depth in their secondary and possibly a new free safety. At the very least, the Ravens need a young talented corner to act as a nickel back and also back up the safety position, the same thought process that lead to the Ravens drafting Gary Baxter in the 2001 draft. Although it may seem unlikely because of the money the Ravens already have invested in the secondary, Ozzie Newsome could look at cornerback Jimmy Williams out of Virginia Tech with the Ravens first round choice. Williams would give the Ravens 3 good corners and Williams could also play free safety. Another possibility could be Michael Huff of Texas. Huff is playmaker and can play both corner and safety. LaRon Landry out of LSU could also be looked at as a potential replacement to Will Demps, if necessary. Newsome could also look at cover corners like Tye Hill out of Clemson or bigger more physical defensive backs such as DeMario Minter out of Georgia and Jason Allen of Tennessee who would likely project to safety.

Ray Lewis is nearing the end of his storied career. Lewis will be 31 next season and age and injuries are beginning to slow him down. Whether the Ravens want to think about it or not, they need to find Ray Lewis’ heir sooner or later. Another problem that will face the Ravens this off season is that Tommy Polley and Bart Scott will both be free agents. Both have stepped up their play in the absence of Ray Lewis, particularly Bart Scott who received the first starts of his career this season. It could be difficult to keep both Scott and Polley, depending on how much money they ask for, so the Ravens could be in need of some help at linebacker. Even if both Scott and Polley are resigned, the Ravens shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to take future starting linebacker, possibly Ray Lewis’ replacement. In the first round, the biggest name is AJ Hawk. Hawk could start immediately at weak side backer for the Ravens and would be the eventual replacement for Lewis. The Ravens could also look at DeMeco Ryans of Alabama, Abdul Hodge out of Iowa or D’Qwell Jackson of Maryland.

Defensive line
One thing that has surely been lacking from the Ravens defense this season is a dominant pass rush. Perhaps it was because of the switch to a new defensive scheme or perhaps it was the personnel. Whatever it may be, the Ravens are going to need a better pass rush next season. The Ravens also have 2 starters along front 4 that will be free agents this off season in end Anthony Weaver and tackle Maake Kemoeatu. If Weaver departs, the Ravens would certainly be in need of a new defensive end, and if Kemoeatu departs, although the Ravens have Dwan Edwards, a 2nd round draft pick from 2004, it probably wouldn’t hurt to add a better player. No matter how the free agent situation plays out, games are won and lost in the trenches and adding a monster tackle in the middle or top pass rush threat would really give a boost to the defense. The biggest names that the Ravens could look at would be Haloti Ngata, a massive defensive tackle out of Oregon and defensive end Mario Williams out of North Carolina State, who has a freakish combination of size and speed. In the 2nd round the Ravens could look at ends such as Darryl Tapp of Virginia Tech, Ray Edwards of Purdue or Manny Lawson of North Carolina State. As for tackle, the Ravens could have interest in names such as Rod Wright out of Texas or Claude Wroten of LSU, both coming from big time defenses.

Discuss the Ravens team needs in our Baltimore Ravens Forum.

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