The Next Step In Ozzie's Plan To Restock The Shelves In Baltimore
By Cian Fahey
On February 3, 2013, the Baltimore Ravens shocked the world as they completed their unlikely playoff journey to Super Bowl glory. That fateful day brought an end to the 2012 chapter in Ravens' history and the 2013 version is well underway.
This year’s Ravens are going to look very different from the last season’s version. In fact, they already do. Marquee additions in OLB Elvis Dumervil and FS Michael Huff have replaced big-name departures in WR Anquan Boldin and S Ed Reed. While the majority of signings have taken place already, there are still plenty of moves that GM Ozzie Newsome needs to make ahead of the beginning of next year's training camp.
Much work has been done on the defense's spine – most notably the signings of DE Chris Canty, Dumervil and Huff – but there are still gaps at inside linebacker and strong safety that need to be filled.
Former Miami Dolphins' ILB Karlos Dansby should be a target to fill the linebacker spot. Dansby was released by the Dolphins after they signed ex-Ravens' ILB Dannell Ellerbe. Dansby's release was a surprise to most that watched him last season and could potentially have been a result of his vocal nature in the locker room. He was part of the leadership council that had been established in training camp, part of a trio who that has left Miami since it was formed.
The Dolphins had a rookie head coach and a relatively young core. Dansby, a 31-year-old nine year-veteran, assumed a leadership position that never appeared to fit with the overall philosophy of the team. His fiery approach to playing the game would fit perfectly with the Ravens, who are looking for someone to fill that void with the retirement of Ray Lewis.
Considering the style of safeties the Ravens paired with Ed Reed during his time as the franchise's starting safety, the expectation will be that they find a hard-hitting presence to play ahead of Huff. Fortunately for the Ravens, there are a handful of safeties in this month’s NFL Draft who fit that mold from Florida’s Matt Elam to USC’s T.J. McDonald to South Carolina’s D.J .Swearinger.
On the other side of the field, the Ravens could consider adding a starting caliber left tackle to keep Michael Oher at right tackle and Kelechi Osemele at left guard. However, their top offensive priority is to add another wide receiver.
Although Tandon Doss has some potential, the Ravens will be looking to create more competition for the third wide receiver spot. Doss behind Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith isn't enough after losing Boldin, who was QB Joe Flacco's go-to-guy in the playoffs and offers the team a physical presence that nobody else on the roster does.
Newsome wouldn't have traded Boldin if he didn't have a plan, and that plan likely includes finding a receiver in this year's very deep draft class.