The NFC North didn’t necessarily get any more interesting on draft day, instead it just got more impressive, and that started at the top with the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens lost some integral parts so far this this off season, including starting offensive guard Ben Grubbs as well as starting outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.
How did the division champs do? Were they able to regroup and continue to be a contender? Here is my 2012 Baltimore Ravens Draft Grade.
If you don’t understand how I grade my drafts, check out the 2012 AFC North Draft Grades, and sorry, you don’t get a letter draft til year 3, when we actually know how you did.
You draft a starting caliber player like Courtney Upshaw and someone who should have been drafted in the teens in round 1? That’s a win. Upshaw should step in and replace the departed Jarrett Johnson and the Ravens won’t miss a beat.
Upshaw is a dominant type OLB with great strength and a good base to set the edge in a 34 alignment. He has some pass rush potential, with good size/speed moves, but most importantly is a versatile and willing defender.
One trouble spot could be his inability to drop into coverage, but the other things he brings to the table make that possible slight something you can overlook.
Again, you are able to replace a departed starter without blinking and that is exactly what the Ravens did with the addition of Kelechi Osemele. Is Osemele going to be as good as Ben Grubbs, maybe not, but he has the talent to get there, and that is all you want as a coach.
Osemele has great bend, is an explosive, attacking type offensive lineman, who looks to overpower and bully his opponents. He is going to have to learn not to get overextended, which cause him to lose that base strength, but if he can do that, he will be a solid, 10 year type starter at RG.
Adding to an already loaded spot, the Ravens picked up Bernard Pierce. Pierce offers a nice compliment type piece to what Ray Rice already is in Baltimore.
Pierce has an amazing combination of vision and power, the exact compliment that is needed for the shifty Ray Rice, but more importantly he can be utilized on a small basis, especially with the injury history.
Although he doesn’t possess game changing speed, the Ravens don’t need him to, he just needs to get his 8-12 carries a game, spell Ray Rice, and not fumble the ball.
Gino Gradkowski is a depth type addition with starting potential, but he has great swing possibilities as he can play either guard spot or center.
While Gradkowski doesn’t have the look to be more than a great back up at three spots, he does possess a great awareness at the line, makes good reads on his blocks, and always gets himself in a good position. He is limited by his size and athleticism, which is the major concern if he can ever become an every down player.
Christian Thompson, Asa Jackson and Tommy Streeter are all high reward prospects who can come in, sit behind veterans and learn and grow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all three players make an impact within their first three years with the Ravens, but the way the draft works, it is likely only one will.
I group these players together because they are all the same, good prospects with really high upside.
Thompson has the size and speed you want in a safety, but he has slow reaction timing and doesn’t process and breakdown plays well.
Jackson is a small, feisty nickel back prospect who needs time to refine his technique, but he has the speed and ball skills you look for in a nickel.
Streeter is the most intriguing; the definition of a developmental prospect is what Streeter is. He has game changing size and speed, but is only a vertical and red zone threat at this time, as he only has one year college experience on him
Is a legit 4.4 player, with the ability to go get the ball, but needs help running routes, and is inconsistent with his hands.
While DeAngelo Tyson doesn’t appear to be more than a camp body, who has the size and strength potential to make the roster and maybe even become a competent back up at all three defensive line positions for the Ravens.
Overall: Why did the Ravens work their way into The Great, category of this “draft grade?” Simple, they didn’t reach anywhere, except maybe for Gradkowski, but more importantly, they added fantastic pieces of need, without over drafting.
That’s what makes a draft great, at least to me.
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