Baltimore Ravens 2012 NFL Draft Review

Courtney Upshaw

The Ravens won the AFC North title last season, sweeping the division for the first time in team history and going undefeated at home. Baltimore is the only NFL team to win a playoff game four years in a row. Coach John Harbaugh has led the onfield operation and consistency while General Manager Ozzie Newsome keeps Harbaugh loaded with youth and depth from the draft and free agency. The Ravens had the NFL’s third ranked defense a year ago, but was first in the all important redzone defense and second in third-down defense. The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs, is most likely out for the season. The rush linebacker tore an Achilles tendon but the Ravens drafted Courtney Upshaw a few days before the injury. Upshaw has the talent and the skill to soften the blow of Suggs’ loss. Upshaw, Paul Kruger, and Sergio Kindle all got work at the Sam linebacker spot during OTAs. A quick twitch athlete who plays well on his feet, Upshaw plays with good knee bend and explodes from the ground up. In mini-camp he demonstrated good instincts and should prove to be an upgrade over the departed Jarret Johnson. Kelechi Osemele will have a shot to start at guard or tackle after showing his athletic ability and explosiveness in mini-camp. Jah Reid will compete with Osemele at filling Ben Grubbs’ starting guard position. The former Cyclone received numerous reps with the first team in recent OTAs with the veterans. Bernard Pierce was drafted to back up Ray Rice. He is a patient runner who does a good job following and cutting off his blockers. More powerful than elusive in his play, he scored 53 touchdowns in his career and most of his production came from between the tackles. He will need to work on all phases of his game, including pass protection and receiving. Gino Gradkowski got repetitions with the first unit during OTAs and should develop into one of the top eight offensive linemen. Like his brother Bruce, he is smart and tough. He may also be the future at center when Matt Birk retires. Christian Thompson is a developmental safety who will back up Ed Reed. He is raw in technique but is big and fast for the position. The best thing he does is support the perimeter runs and sweeps. He has the speed to run with the tight ends and backs and should be an asset on special teams. Asa Jackson is another small school talent with quick feet and a burst. Smooth and athletic with good stop and go quickness, he is a competitor who is shorter than ideal but has loose hips in his turn and run transition. He may contribute as a punt return specialist. Tommy Streeter was projected to go higher in the draft and may prove to be a steal for the Ravens. He is a big, fast, and athletic receiver who is a developing size and speed project. His overall strength and route running need to be improved. DeAngelo Tyson is a developmental nose tackle who will be battling to work into the front rotation. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

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