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Ravens and Redskins 2013 Draft Preview

Apr 25, 2013 04:19PM ● By Anonymous

 



For the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and NFC East Champion Washington Redskins, this offseason has been a unique battle that has set them up for a lively draft.

The Ravens retained Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco at a hefty price, six years and $120.6 million to be exact. However, they lost team leader Ray Lewis and center Matt Birk to retirement, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe to huge contracts with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, respectively, future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed to the Houston Texans, and traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick. The team also lost cornerback Cary Williams to the Philadelphia Eagles and cut safety Bernard Pollard, who signed with the Tennessee Titans.

However, with the help of a fax machine, Baltimore was able to land stud linebacker Elvis Dumervil from the Denver Broncos. Also added were veteran safety Michael Huff, defensive linemen Marcus Spears and Chris Canty, and linebacker Rolando McClain.

Even with the additions of Dumervil and McClain, linebacker remains a top position of need and many mock drafts have them selecting Notre Dame star Manti Te’o or LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, though safeties such as FIU’s Jonathan Cyprien or LSU’s Eric Reid could be targets. With former University of Maryland star Torrey Smith as their only major wide receiver threat, that position could also be a priority when it comes time to make their selection.

With 12 picks in the draft, the Ravens will have plenty of opportunities to address their needs or stick to Ozzie Newsome’s philosophy of drafting the best player available on his draft board.

Baltimoreravens.com writer John Eisenberg is a proponent of the Newsome strategy.

“Needs come and go,” Eisenberg said. “Needs are sort of fleeting. You really have to stick to the principle of ‘Who’s the best player out there?’”

“When they drafted Haloti Ngata in 2006 their offense was terrible the year before,” Eisenberg said. “That’s where their needs were. Their run defense was good. Defensive tackle wasn’t a position of need but they took him because they loved him.”

With Baltimore holding the 32nd pick, Eisenberg prefers taking a safety over linebacker.

“I think Cyprien is a guy whose stock is really rising,” Eisenberg said. “I’m not sure he’ll be there. They need to shore up the back end of their defense having lost both safeties. They signed Michael Huff but he’s 29 years old. They can really use somebody to anchor [the secondary] for the long term. They brought up taking safety the last couple years and they haven’t done it.”

Eisenberg can even see a trade involving their plethora of picks.

“Twelve’s a lot. It’s probably more than they need so there’d be a trade probably somewhere along the line,” Eisenberg said.

“What they traditionally have done is use picks to move up in the third round, fourth round,” Eisenberg added. “If somebody’s falling to them that they really like, they’ll throw some picks in to move up six or seven spots to get a guy they want. That’s what they did with Bernard Pierce last year.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Redskins had to swallow their pride and endure the second year of an $18 million salary cap penalty. Despite the hindrance, the team was able to re-sign 12 of their own free agents, only losing Pro Bowl linebacker Lorenzo Alexander to the Arizona Cardinals.

Despite not having a first rounder this season due to last year’s trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up to No. 2 and select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 Draft, the Redskins still have a full deck of seven picks with two coming in the fifth round. The team still found a way to address positions from outside the organization, having signed former Dolphins quarterback Pat White, whose mobility will help hold the team over in offseason practices until Griffin is healthy while recovering from knee surgery. Washington also signed former Eagles linebacker Darryl Tapp, former Cleveland Browns tackle Tony Pashos as well as two former Tampa Bay Buccaneers: cornerback E.J. Biggers and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood.

Washington’s first selection comes at pick No. 51 in the second round and the glaring needs are at cornerback and safety. The team’s top three cornerbacks, DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers, have expiring contracts after the 2013 season. The Redskins also only have four safeties on the roster: Reed Doughty, who is known for his special teams ability, Jordan Bernstine, who suffered a torn ACL against the Saints as a rookie in the 2012 season opener, 2011 fifth-round pick DeJon Gomes, and reserve Jordan Pugh, who was signed to take Bernstine’s spot on the roster last season.

This year’s draft is not top-heavy with superstars but is heralded as very deep in the middle-to-late rounds, especially at cornerback and safety, which will help the Redskins immensely.

Despite the amount of depth at critical positions, 106.7 The Fan’s Redskins beat reporter Grant Paulsen doesn’t expect them to trade the 51st pick.

“I don’t see them trading back,” Paulsen said. “I see them trying to cure their defensive back problems with their first couple picks. I think they’ll go cornerback with their first selection and safety with their second selection. With the way the draft is going to play out, corners are going to be coming off at a rapid rate. I think 10 could go before the third round starts.”

Paulsen sees North Carolina State cornerback David Amerson and Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas as second and third round options. As far as the mid-to-late rounds are concerned, he feels the Redskins can address less pressing needs with those picks.

“I think they need to find themselves a slot receiver of the future behind Santana Moss,” Paulsen said. “That’s probably more of a want than a need. I think it’s something they’d like to have in the organization. I also think they could benefit from increased depth at inside linebacker, especially with [rookie Keenan] Robinson coming off an injury and losing Lorenzo Alexander. They obviously need offensive line help.”