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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Columbia, Maryland
    Posts
    1,179

    The Draft Will Grade This Offseason



    With the Ravens current situation with the cap and allowing FAs to leave, I'd look for the following from this draft:

    1. The Ravens will focus on more NFL ready players. The Ravens drafted Dawan Landry in the 5th round and the thought on Landry was his maturity and readiness to "play now" instead of needing the 2 years to develop. That move payed dividens for us. I see us looking for more "Landrys" with picks in rounds 2 through 7. There will be no drafting "two or three year projects" like Devard Darling and Clarence Moore (and name the many others). Even Tony Pashos was a project of sorts.

    2. This offseason could be the future design of our offseason. The Pats, Colts, Eagles, and Steelers stay competitive each year by letting go of star players a little early and replacing those guys using the draft. With our draft success, I never understood why we did not do that. I think sometimes, we hold on to guys too long. Letting and AD (at 30) and Pashos walk is smart because both can be replaced with the draft. While AD's talent won't directly be replaced, we can draft someone to provide his own unique talent to keep the legacy of great defense going here. Pashos is just easily replaceable.

    3. This Draft's grade will also be 90 percent of our offseason grade. Listening to Eric Decosta talk of wanting to improve on our 75% stat (of players drafted that are playing in the NFL since 1999), really sounds as if the scouts and Decosta are putting in a super effort in amking this coming draft even better than the stellar 2006 and very good 2005 draft.
    It's a new season! It's a new day!




  2. #2

    Re: The Draft Will Grade This Offseason

    I couldn't agree more. If it takes Tony Pashos three years to sniff the field, then we are not grooming our players quick enough. I had no problem with his play. In fact, I had no problem with Terry's play once he gets to play.

    I feel there is a fine line between the staff saying this guy can or cannot play, vs. the player actuallt getting thrown into the fray and finally learning the game at NFL game speed, not preseason or practice speed. IMO, it has worked for all of our younger O'Lineman, once they have been given the chance.

    Whether that means better scouting or simply providing earlier opportunities, the same will happen to Terry and Brown, if we don't get practive. At least Chester saw the field as a rookie. This happened with Jeff Mitchell, Casey Rabauch and others. I would rather tie up Terry, Brown and Chester, grant it Chester is tied up a few more years, but Terry and Brown are in year three coming up....

    Cut bait with Kedrick Vincent and Mike Flynn and even the Mule. These three are older, more injury prone and certainly could be viewed as stale or dead monies towards our cap. Especially if Mike Rimph is doing well with his rehab.




  3. #3

    Re: The Draft Will Grade This Offseason

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleRulz View Post
    Pashos is just easily replaceable.
    Maybe so, but through the draft? This FO rarely drafts o-linemen who are ready to play right away.




  4. #4

    Re: The Draft Will Grade This Offseason

    That wasn't my point as much, as you have to give them a chance to get P.T. I feel part of our O'Line success this year was people felt pushed or the competition was at least offered.




  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Scaggsville, MD
    Posts
    769

    Re: The Draft Will Grade This Offseason

    In the ideal model of a football team under a salary cap, I think there are three roles for which the front office should avoid committing big money as best as possible: running back, interior lineman, and pass rusher.

    Running back is the most obvious. Good runners are found every year in the draft, and they wear out pretty fast. If the Ravens spent a draft pick every year on a RB (fullbacks included) and never gave one a contract past their rookie contract, I think we could still have solid rushing production without committing much money to getting it.

    For interior linemen, it's a little trickier, as many aren't ready to step right in as rookies. A good strategy might be to sign them to shorter contracts as rookies and then evaluate them as backups for a couple years while they get stronger and refine their technique. Then extend them BEFORE they become starters, giving them modest contracts but never offering too much. That way, they're locked up for a few years while they start for us, at the end of which time we can replace them, or extend them again to reasonable offers. There's a bigger risk involved, since all the evaluation in preseason and the offseason might not tell you that a player is ready to step in and perform. But with a relatively small signing bonus, the impact of cutting a lineman in this way if we make a mistake shouldn't be hard to handle. If there's an exception to be made, it's at center, where you have to find someone strong enough to handle the Casey Hamptons of the world, but smart enough to call out the right protections and manage the line well. When we find one of those, a big contract extension should be waiting for him.

    Pass rusher encompasses a lot of positions, so I'll simplify it to four: two DEs, two OLBs. I'd say that at least two of these, at all times, should be working from their rookie contract or a similarly inexpensive one. Generating a great pass rush is very important, but the key is to find a pair of good line-cloggers in the middle (NT and one DE in the 3-4, both DTs in the 4-3) and line up one real threat at DE or OLB (again, depending on your formation). If you can line up a big threat on either side, that's even better. But the team shouldn't be spending veteran money on all of the pass rushing positions, because that'll dry up money from other needs.

    In a nutshell, that's why I think we did the right thing in letting AD walk. He's a tremendous player and he does more than just rush the passer. But we have a good start to this pass rushing model right now. Our big threat is Terrell Suggs. I'm certain we're working on an extension for him right now. Opposite him we can line up Trevor Pryce, another big threat, but one on the back end of his career. We're paying (or going to be paying) big money for both of them, which is fine and should be affordable. We've got two very good DTs between them in Gregg and Ngata who still have many years left between them. At OLB our pass rushers were Scott and Thomas. Scott was locked up to a good contract and plays both run and pass very well. That means our choice was between Suggs and Thomas, and we could only keep one. As much as I sometimes think Suggs is a punk, he's more valuable to us as a player, because he's younger and faster. He might not be more valuable this very next season, but looking at the rest of his career versus the rest of AD's, it's not really a question.

    Thomas can be replaced by someone who's not quite as good, but whose contract allows us to keep our other stars. We enjoyed the luxury of having him, but we didn't NEED him. Someone will step up to replace him (Cody? Jarret Johnson? A rookie we've yet to acquire?) and will play well, if for no other reason than he's got six other superstars in the front seven. And we'll be able to watch Reed, Heap, McAlister, Suggs, Clayton, and Ngata as the core of this team for the next few years.

    That's also why we might struggle replacing Pashos. We've always had trouble at RT and this is the first time we've gotten it fixed. I don't have any illusions that Pashos is a superior player, but he did the job, and behind him we don't have anyone. Can we get by with Terry there for a year or two, while he waits for Ogden to retire? Yeah, I think we could. But we need to find a replacement RT fast, so we're not stuck with someone else's discards.

    We've got to make sure that the "master plan" has money earmarked, at all times, for good players in key positions: QB, WR1, WR2, TE, LT, RT, C, DT1, DT2, PR1, PR2, MLB, CB1, CB2, S1. If we have a guy playing on an inexpensive rookie contract and excelling in one of those positions (Clayton, Ngata) then we'll have the money to extend him. If we have a hole at one of those positions, we'll have the money to go get a free agent to fill it. If there isn't one, we can do the best we can with what we have, and spread the unused money around as bonuses to our key players, giving out money now to ease their cap burden later. What NFL player is going to object to a small restructuring that gives them a couple million as a roster bonus up front and eases their cap hit the following season?

    With all that said, the Ravens do a better job than most of us realize. Few other teams are blessed with as much talent, player by player, as we are. It's almost criminal that that talent hasn't even sniffed the Super Bowl in six years now; that's the result of poor planning at key positions (most notably QB, WR, and RT). It's better to be us, loaded with stars and short on cap space, than the 49ers, lean on talent but with tons of money, or heaven help us, the Browns, full of overpaid draft busts and free agent mistakes. Still, I think we can do better. And we're making a good start right now, by letting AD walk and either getting rid of Jamal or forcing a cheap, short-term contract on him. I just wish we had a way to keep our most successful offensive line in history intact for the next couple years.




  6. #6

    Re: The Draft Will Grade This Offseason

    nice, maybe you could add a few more paragraphs




  7. #7

    Re: The Draft Will Grade This Offseason

    Unfortunately it seems that the draft WILL BE OUR OFFSEASON, we're not even re-signing our own guys.




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