Late for Work 4/28: Questions Heading Into Ravens’ Draft

Plus Hillis tabbed for Madden cover and a former Raven goes to the UFL.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 9:44 am | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Questions Heading Into Ravens’ Draft

If available, should the Ravens take a chance on character-questioned Colorado CB Jimmy Smith, especially after Sergio Kindle never stepped foot on the field?

“I would jump at the chance of taking Jimmy Smith,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley. “Of course, I’m not giving him millions of dollars, either. I understand that the Ravens gambled on Kindle and that didn’t turn out well.

But it would be a mistake to pass on Smith.”

If Smith isn’t available, what is Plan B for pick No. 26?

"If Smith’s gone and you’re sitting there at 26, I’d get out of there. I’m not reaching," ESPN’s Mel Kiper advised. "In this draft, I think that could be a great scenario for the Ravens."

He added, “However, the good news for them is that the defensive end-outside linebacker class is pretty deep this year. If they have to sit at 26, and if Jimmy Smith is off the board or they decide not to go that way, that defensive end-outside linebacker guy is an interesting [pick].”

If the Ravens keep their 26th pick, Kiper has the franchise selecting UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Why do the first-round choices come down to Smith, pass rushers or trading back? The Ravens need help at offensive tackle with uncertainty surrounding Jared Gaither. What about taking a tackle in Round 1?

If the OT prospects were better this year, the Ravens would consider taking one,” wrote Hensley. “The best of this class — Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo — will be gone before the Ravens pick at No. 26.”

That means tackles that could be available at the end of the first round include Mississippi State’s ¬†Derrick Sherrod, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi and Colorado’s Nate Solder. But NFL Network’s Mike Mayock doesn’t believe Sherrod nor Carimi are an upgrade to the Ravens’ current left tackle Michael Oher and may not be a good fit for Baltimore at 26.

For those looking to bolster quarterback protection, the good news is that Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz believes depth at offensive tackle is “pretty solid,” which means the team could find help in later rounds.

In the second round you’re going to get an opportunity to take a good one,” said Hortiz. “In the third round [you will have a chance]. 

Which receivers can the Ravens select in the second or third round that could make an immediate impact?

“After A.J Green (Georgia) and Julio Jones (Alabama) come off the board, most likely, somewhere in the top 15 picks, it’s just hard to feel entirely comfortable investing a first-round pick in what will be left at the wide receiver position,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s Matt Zenitz.

Behind Green and Jones, Kiper believes the next best three receivers are Boise State’s Titus Young, Miami’s Leonard Hankerson and Maryland’s Torrey Smith.

“I think the Ravens would be interested in Torrey Smith in the second round,” wrote Hensley. “I would be shocked if Torrey Smith didn’t get picked in the second round. The Ravens would see value in him with the 58th overall pick.”

“I really like Boise State’s Titus Young. But he won’t be there when the Ravens pick in the second round. He will be a playmaker at this level. The receiver that I have my eye on is Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin. Yes, he has the ‘immature’ label. But he is big (6-4) and athletic. I can see him having that ‘steal’ potential late in the second round.”

Hillis Madden Cover Winner; Next to Experience Curse?

No. 10 seed and Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis upset Ray Rice, Matt Ryan, Jamaal Charles, Aaron Rodgers and now Michael Vick to win the Madden NFL 12 cover tournament.

While the victory is a great honor for Hillis, ESPN’s James Walker points out that the infamous “Madden curse” is a perfect 2-0 against AFC North players.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, the only two AFC North players to be a featured, sustained injuries the year after they donned the cover.

Coming off a Super Bowl victory in 2009, Polamalu injured his knee the next season, missed 11 games, and the Steelers failed to advance to the playoffs. Meanwhile, Lewis broke his wrist in 2004. He only missed one game, but the Ravens also came up short of a postseason berth.

Hillis doesn’t seem worried.

"For people to believe in this so-called curse, I can’t wait to prove people wrong," Hillis told ESPN. "From what I believe and where I am in my spiritual life, it would be good to prove them wrong in that sense.”

Quick Hits

  • Building a team with the best draft picks in Ravens history [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Here we go again with the big debate about who is the best safety in the league: Ravens Ed Reed or Polamalu? ¬†You can vote now as NFL writers prepare their safety power rankings list, set to be announced next week. [ESPN]

Tags: , , , ,